“I want to play with my Legos!” a tired Benjamin hollered from the backseat.
His father soothed him from the driver’s seat. “We’ll be home soon and you can build Legos.”
I said something quiet. My husband said something quiet. We conversed in low voices in that semi-private world that parents create across the front seat of a minivan. Lilah, worn out at 6:20 in the evening, snuffled in the seat behind us. The boys spoke to each other, and we tuned them out, grateful that Lilah currently was not weeping with exhaustion.
Then, Zachary screamed his special cry, the one reserved for Benjamin-has-wronged-me situations. “What?” we both asked, startled at the degree of agitation.
“Benjamin has bad grammar!” Zach wailed.
“Yes, he said he was going to build Legos, but he can’t build Legos because they’re plastic blocks that come already built.”
I understood immediately, but my husband isn’t quite so particular about words. “Ben’s right; he’s going to play with the Legos.”
“He CAN’T build Legos!” Zach insisted.
“He’s right,” I interjected. “It’s missing a preposition. He’s going to build with Legos.”
Now my husband got it. “Oh. OK, technically, Zach’s right. Technically, you can’t build Legos because they’re already built into plastic boxes.” Technically? I thought. What’s with this technically? There is no technically in grammar. It’s all technical. Do or do not; there is no technically.
“No,” Ben insisted. “Daddy said I was going to build Legos, and I was repeating the way he said it.”
We’re all just repeating signs of signs, and utterance carries with it the echoes of those utterances that came before, as well as the trace of all the words it is not. We’ll call that the Derrida School of Legos.