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22nd Mar 2024

I don’t like playing with my son, but Lego is the one exception

Laura Cunningham


Exclusive: Ryan ‘Brickman’ McNaught chats to HerFamily

Making a statement like ‘I don’t like playing with my child’ is often a controversial one. I’ve made the admission before and discovered it’s something many parents struggle with, whether they’re happy to admit it or not.

Last week, one of my favourite online creators KC Davis caused an internet storm by simply stating that it’s ok to not enjoy playing with your kids.


Replying to @Vanessa Kay caveat: your own kids ages, unique abilities, siblings, developmental pace and personalities along with your home layout and environmental constraints will obviously come in to play when it comes to their ability to play independently. There are other factors at play but this is the factor that made the difference for us #strugglecare#mentalhealth#ADHD#autism#independantplay#parentingtiktok

♬ original sound – Kc Davis

It really is ok. After all, we’re adults – if we enjoyed playing, we’d buy ourselves toys.

“I’ve found a form of play that doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out.”

But we push through and do it when we can, for them. And, luckily for me, I’ve found a form of play that doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out.

One of my absolute favourite things to do with my son is build crazy Lego constructions, letting him create a fun narrative as we go. We’re still on Duplo bricks, as he’s only three, but together we’ve created Dragon’s layers, North Pole scenes, construction sites and classrooms – whatever his little mind wants. And it’s magic.

As someone who finds imaginative play a little arduous to say the least (do not come at me with an action figure, I beg of you), the addition of a creative element makes playing infinitely more enjoyable for me, which in turn makes my son far more engaged too.

Have you got a Lego mad kiddo in your house? Like many, I come from a family obsessed with the colourful blocks, even passing down sets from one generation to the next. My nephews have rooms filled with impressive street scenes featuring libraries, airports and police stations – all happily collected over many birthdays and Christmases.

It’s no secret that playing with Lego or other building blocks is a great opportunity to get creative, but this week I learned about the important learning play benefits when I chatted to Mr. Lego himself, Ryan ‘Brickman’ McNaught.

Every bit the celebrity to my Lego-loving clan, Ryan explained the value that the heritage toy can add to a kids’ life: “The great thing about Lego is its physicality. In the digital age, physically expressing creativity and having something to show for it is almost unique.”

“There is no right or wrong way to play.”

And luckily for parents like me who want to fuel little imaginations, Ryan says, every approach is the right approach to creative play: “The great thing about it is there is no right or wrong, but I’ve always found it easier if you are building around a subject matter that you love.

“For example, say your daughter wants to be a surgeon – then building hospitals, and all the stuff that goes around it, makes for really engaging play.”

I have no shame in admitting that this 43-year-old woman instantly wanted to go build a hospital out of white bricks. What is it about lego that makes it so universally appealing to both children and adults? Ryan explained: “Theres obviously the nostalgia part, where we as adults played with it as kids, but as we have gotten older, Lego has developed too, and its matured in a complexity way.

So it allows us adults to be challenged in not only the modern subject matters, but the difficulty of the builds too.”

And Ryan has been involved in some seriously complex builds in his time, as he told me: “We made a huge Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s over 8m long and 5m high. It has people constructing and building away all over it. It’s one of the craziest things we have ever built!

Source Instagram @mcnaught.ryan

If you fancy checking out some incredible creations yourself, the Lego Bricktionary, An Interactive Experience runs at Dublin’s Theatre of Light from now until May 19th.

I’ll see some of you Lego-lovers there!


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