I like jigsaw puzzles. When I was a kid (i.e., had free time, available horizontal surfaces, and no little baby hands to mess things up) I used to do a lot of jigsaws. Some of my favorite 500 piece puzzles became little 20-minute relaxation exercises for me. The summer before I went to college, I spent two and a half months doing an 8000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and I still remember that time with pleasure. Just recently I in fact had a wonderful dream, in which the only thing that I did was to work on a jigsaw puzzle. I woke up feeling relaxed and happy.

Having sufficiently driven that point home, please consider the following picture.

I know, I know… puzzle-making is a learned skill. Young children are just as incredibly inept at it as they are at everything else, and it’s the process that’s important. I really, truly am usually good with that. But for certain skills which are near and dear to my heart, I find myself clenching my teeth while my child fumbles his way through.

I think I did a good job at working through this puzzle with Nathan. I don’t think that my voice became at all uneven when I told him, for the sixty-second time, about the concept of edge pieces, or that the point is to match up the picture. I even stepped back far enough, at one point, to ask him if he knew what I meant when I referred to a “corner.” (He didn’t. I explained.)

So overall I think I did a good job with him. I helped only a little and was appropriately enthusiastic when he fit in the last piece. I maintained a demeanor of interest and calm. On the outside.

And if I struggled a little on the inside, and my fingers twitched a few times… well, it doesn’t count if he doesn’t know about it, right?

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