Oh, my dear sweet boy. I wish I could make it easier. And I will never, so that you can hear, tell you that it will get much, much worse. This is already more than your little heart can handle, and all I can do is offer a shoulder to cry on, a warm hug, and a fierce advocate in your efforts to pick up the pieces.

I know your heart is breaking. I know this news has disrupted your sense of self, rocked the security of your community, and upended your trust in security.

But it is, really is, going to be okay.

Some friends at school told you the news today that LEGO is phasing out Ninjago. They don’t know you well enough to tell you the right way. They are six; they had no idea they needed to cushion the blow and to frame it properly. They didn’t think they needed to tell you carefully, so they just dumped the announcement on you.

And you tried so hard to make it through the day without breaking down. Once we had said goodbye to everyone, you made it halfway across the playground before you just lost it. Heart breaking, tears streaming, you told me. Softly.

“They took Ninjago away.”

The school did? You mean your small group of friends who cares for nothing but pretending to be ninjas, fighting off playground evils with the powers of ice, lightning, earth, and fire incensed those dolts who run the show? They’ve taken the tools of your play and your first real bridge to community? Bastards! Bureaucrats! Troglodytes!

“No, no. LEGO took them. They’re taking them all away from the stores.”

Recall? Figures. Those corporate whores are always trying to make goods cheaper so they can pocket the profits. I can’t believe they’ve endangered you just to make a few bucks.

Wrong again. Honestly, I don’t get much right.

After a lot more tears and some help from one of your friends I understood. LEGO is phasing out Ninjago for another theme. They’ve saturated the market, gone as long as they can with this batch of good vs. evil and are retiring it.

“But they’ll replace it with something else,” I explained. “They’re just trying to get us to buy more stuff.” (Oh, stupid woman. Don’t go all anti-consumerist right now. Your Berkeley is showing and it’s ugly in the face of this young man’s devastation.)

“But the ninjas are just another iteration of bionicles and hero factory and…” (Oh, ye sightless and heartless wench. They’re not the same. Never say that.)

“But you just learned about them and asked for them for Hannukah and Solstice and Christmas, and you’re still going to get them. They’re not taking them out of stores. They’ve made millions and they’re just going to stop making more so they can make something else. And we can still buy them if that’s what’s most important on your gift list.” (You’re getting closer, lady.)

“Here. What is your plan with Ninjago? And does this news change your plans?”

You explained that your plans are to acquire ninja figures and make them battle, and surround yourself with a darling community of like-minded ninjas who also want to battle.

“Well, you can still do all that.”

(Ah. Finally. Saved it just at the end there, cupcake.)

Motherhood title not revoked. Close enough to smell your undying disdain. But we’re still okay.

And to get bonus points, I jumped at the chance to join your club. The group of ninjitsu devotees talked at school today and you’re all starting a club to convince LEGO to bring back Ninjago.

Strongly worded letters. My spe-ci-a-lity.

Here’s what you drafted before dinner:



I hop yes, too, buddy. I hop it’s as easy as getting corporate to mark the “yes” box on your ballot.

I love you. And your strongly worded letter. And your persuasive ballot.

And I won’t tell you until tomorrow that a cursory search online tonight has yielded no confirmation of the terrible, terrible first-grade rumor about Ninjago’s demise.

Let’s all hope that, either way, your letter will persuade LEGO to come to their senses and keep making the cement that bonds your school relationships.

But if they do pull Ninjago from production, I promise to play “If You Leave” on an endless loop for you.

The most sincere wish I have for you is that your generation has a John-Hughes-esque artist to help you make sense of your heartbreaks.

39 thoughts on “Heartbreak

  1. Gosh Nap. You hit it with this one. Really, really hit it. I want to cry right along with him. I want to believe that my mommy can make it all right with the world too. And way to go with that Berkeley activism. Love the letter!

    • Thanks, Cathy.
      I have never seen him so deeply hurt. Really. As though they had taken his best friend.

      We’ll have lots of talks about how friends don’t go away when games do; how toys come and go but relationships are stronger than that.

      For now, though, I can’t stop crying about it. I just love his little heart.

      • And suddenly I’ve thought about all the tears my boys have shed in the realization of the demise of their “lovies”. Blankies or stuffed snoopy – they don’t last forever and, when they realize that, it’s the worst loss experienced. And as a mom, I realize that while I can provide comfort, I cannot take away their loss and pain.

        • I hear you. I know that loss and pain are part of being human. I don’t want to protect him from this loss, nor do I want to pretend it’s not huge.

          But oh how I cried all last night reading online and thinking about how to cushion the blow.

          The thing is: he’s already made the plan. He’s going to lobby for their return. How freaking glorious to experience loss and still have the chutzpah to devise an action plan?

          And…now I’m crying again.

    • Oh, goodness, discontinuing jeans is a sin against nature. I have to try on 3,415 pair to find one that fits. When I do, I buy four pair because someday some jackass in marketing is going to say, “we only sold four of those, let’s stop making them.”

      I think Peanut is so attached to this toy enclave because it helped him really belong for the first time. Poor guy. It’s hard to belong and then think you might not fit in any more.

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  3. Heartbreak is right. This is too perfect. We haven’t encountered it yet, but could we maybe see if Disney would phase out those stupid vapid buxom princesses. Here’s hoping. Great post.

    • A wise friend confirmed this morning. LEGO is moving to a TV-based marketing model where they get kids hooked on a show then sell them crap. Hate that because my kid doesn’t get to watch stuff like that, and if he did we wouldn’t buy the toys. LEGO is supposed to be about creating your own worlds, not about mimicking television worlds, damn them.

      Your son can come over to our house to play Ninjago. We have only a handful of characters, but what we lack in vehicles and accoutrements we make up for in passion. ;-)

  4. Laughter through my tears for your little guy. Life just isn’t fair and I wish they never had to learn this. I love his strongly worded memo and know that that skill will serve him well in the years ahead. Use your words, indeed.

    My 5yo just sent a letter of his own to our mayor that read “Mayor. Stop sign.” (The stop sign at the end of our road is no longer red and my dude thinks it’s a safety hazard.) Maybe we can apprentice them to MoveOn.org to speak out against our governmental and corporate overlords.

    • I have no doubt MoveOn would welcome their enthusiasm, their inherent need for fairness and rules, and their pithy articulation of important matters.

      Power to the Littles!

    • According to a parent better versed in this than I am, they will make a few new things but are transitioning to another show with all new trappings.


      Thankfully, they can’t come pry the existing Ninjago goodness from our children’s fingers, so we’ve got at least a year before they wear us down enough to buy the new stuff.

  5. GAH! Eldest loves Ninjago. Yes, he loves the toys and the show, but he mostly loves it because youngest has the same name as one of the Ninjas (for completely unrelated reasons). Man… This will be an unhappy revelation.

    Yes, the replacement looks lame. :(

    I think you handled this very well, though. I can’t imagine how my life would have been different if my mom had shown me even a tenth of the compassion you show your kids.

    • Fie, I gave him a full list of my research over breakfast. All researcher’s kids appreciate that, right?
      1. They’re phasing out but will still sell some stuff. 2. The grandmas are on board with your holiday requests. 3. The letters are stamped and we’ll mail them today. 4. Your friends are still your friends and will be through soccer and science and ninjitsu and beading. 5. The online reaction to the alleged “Cole is a robot” episode suggests it’s a nuanced hoax. So he’s still a boy, don’t worry. 6. The replacement to Ninjago is totally lame and corporations suck. 7. One of my friends reminded me that Kai said, “Ninja never quit.” So don’t you quit, either.

      Poor guy. Good thing it was french toast morning.

  6. WHAT? No more Ninjago? That’s going to crush some people around here. And not just me.

    I hope your son sends that letter to Lego. And I’m so glad your son has you to help him deal with this and all other catastrophes…because you’re amazing.

  7. grade school rumors can be vicious and damaging! I love the passionate letter. Poor sweet baby boy.

    We have not yet reached the theme specific toy obsession stage, but thank you for the glimpse into my very near future.

    • I know it hits most houses earlier, but we’ve kept him away from most popular entertainment so he’s never been captivated by something that anyone else knows about. Now that he’s learned from the kids at school about Ninjago, he thinks it’s his key to social success.

      To have that power of inclusion taken away is devastating. It will be good long term, for of course he’ll find other keys, and friendships cemented by LEGO have staying power.

      But still. Ouch.

  8. You have captured perfectly the gymnastic contortions needed to decode a sensitive kidlet’s heartbreak. This was a lovely read. P.S. I share your disdain for LEGOS new marketing strategies.

    • Thank you for appreciating my contortions, libraryandgarden. They were painfully ugly to me but write rather easily.

      LEGO. Lovely but managed by evil overlords. Maybe one day the gelflings will overthrow the shameful marketers.

  9. Oh, my heart is breaking along with both of yours. But shhhh. Don’t tell my boys. I’m *hopping* ;) your son’s letter will make the difference and they’ll never have to know.

    • Yes! I hop they have received it by now and have changed their minds. Then you won’t have to have the hard talk about marketing executives with your boys. Nobody wants to have that talk until they find out about marketing from their friends at school. ;-)

  10. I don’t really know what Ninjago is, but I am very sad for your son anyway. I don’t know what I would do if Trader Joes ever phased out my kettle corn.

    • Oh, Shannon, do you bring the TJ’s kettle corn to parties and find a common bond with other kettle corn lovers? I feel that way about their soy sauce crackers. I bring those and trader joe’s organic hummus to every party, and I make friends and influence people with those tasty, salty rounds. If they were phased out, who would I be?

      Now I want some kettle corn…

  11. Oh did this hit home. We have been big fans of the Legos and the TV episodes on Cartoon Network. My son has most of the various types of ninjas and loves to recreate battle scenes and make up new ones. When the show ended he was devastated. When he found out the Legos would be no more his little heart broke too. They are his favorite. He would sign your son’s petition in a heartbeat! Thankfully we have several links to get to phased out legos at prices that don’t break my bank account. And we have learned that change often comes with age. While my son was completely heartbroken a couple of weeks ago he has found a new passion to focus on. And with it a new aisle at Toys R Us to explore. Oh how I often hate the marketing executives…

    • It is, really, a good early lesson on first loves ending and new loves eventually supplanting them.

      Maybe this will plant a gentle seed that loving *things* is a bad idea.

      Probably not. Loving people is much harder. There’s always ebay for things. ;-)

  12. How can you get rid of something that is so immensely popular with every little boy I know right now? I kept thinking that the show was just going on “hiatus” or something like that, so that they could create new storylines and new toys. My son and his friends have connected to these ninjas like no other character up to now. While there is always something new, this seemed different. I have to say that I think I will miss Kai, Jay, Cole, Lloyd, Nya & Sensei Wu too! Sorry Lego, but Chima is just not the same. Somehow I just can’t see my son dressing up as one of these characters for Halloween. Then again, I guess you never now. I work in marketing, so I get it…sort of. But as a parent, it breaks my heart too. Thank goodness that “Star Wars” isn’t going anywhere any time soon!

    • Infuriating, really, that they’re doing this based on marketing when it’s clear that the ninjas were at least as popular as the Star Wars and Harry Potter sets.

      I get it, too, from a cold and heartless money perspective. But jeez. Can’t you at least keep making a few of what have been selling well?

      Tell your son he can fly out and play ninjas with my son. For old time’s sake. ;-)

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