Every time we build it, they take it right apart again. My son is two years old. He can do the little Melissa and Doug “puzzles” where you are basically just matching the wooden piece with the painted picture below it. He’s very good at those. Down at the library they have these big-pieced puzzles of various different drawings; a fire truck, Max and monster from Where the Wild Things are, an aquarium scene. Occasionally we will give one of these a crack. They are definitely above his skill level and right at, if not a little above mine. We will start by dumping the 30 some odd pieces out on the floor (with other kids weaving in and out of the area) and begin. He picks a piece and puts it down to start and I do the same. OK, what do you got there buddy? A hand? OK, let’s see if we can find some more of his fingers, OK this looks like a finger, maybe try it like this… Good enough, we are plugging along. I start describing to him my process of looking for the pieces with flat edges and working the left side of the puzzle. He continues, with some guidance, to work the body of Max (in this case).
So far so good. Now I am about 18 pieces in from the left, I have all of the monster’s right side of his body complete, looking for his left arm to bridge the connection with my son’s progress. Buddy, help me look for the monster’s arm. “Fire Truck” is the reply. Oh No, I know where this is heading. “Fire Truck.” C’mon buddy we started this one, let’s finish and then we can work on the fire truck. “Fire Truuuuuck.” Okay, I am a grown man, I in no way NEED to finish this puzzle, in fact, I arguably wanted to start this puzzle in the first place but he was into it, so we did it. I am now 20 pieces in with my son’s 4 connected pieces together we are about 8 pieces shy of completing this puzzle. I in no way intend on giving up now. I could claim that I was trying to teach him some sort of lesson about completing what you start but the fact of the matter is I came so far and I couldn’t give up now. It’s that little part of you that no matter how many times you play Scrabble or Rummy, you still want to win, not really sure why you do as it is completely inconsequential whether you win or lose, but you still are driven. I had that drive.
Now it’s a full on Zoo in the library with kids running around grabbing puzzle pieces, different toys being fought over, my son is still remaining within arm’s reach but disinterested in my quest for wholeness. I am sneaking a few more pieces onto the puzzle (The monster’s left arm!). Only about 4 away now. “Nooooo, Fire Truck!” Now he’s mad, his 2-year old patience is on empty. “Nooooooooo!” as he starts dismantling our (my) creation. The grown up in me rationalizes this in a split second, I am surprisingly satisfied with how far we’ve come and can nearly visualize where those last 4 pieces would go anyway. OK buddy, help clean up, you hold the bag. “Fire Truck puzzle!” Of course buddy, let’s just finish cleaning up this one then we’ll get the Fire Truck. He complies.
We bring the Max puzzle back to the rack and grab the Fire Truck puzzle and recommence on the floor. Ok buddy, this looks like the front wheel, do you see another piece that looks like a wheel? “Nooooo, Max puzzle!” Futility ensues, back to the rack commander, there’s no one in charge over here anymore.