This week I was faced with one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a parent. I sat there and watched my daughter do a jigsaw puzzle, and did not help her at all! That’s right. You heard me. There was a jigsaw puzzle being done directly under my nose, and I didn’t put in a single piece. It was pure torture.
And the worst part was, she wanted help! She straight up told me that 300 pieces was way too many, and it was way too hard, and if I didn’t start putting some pieces in, it was going to take way too long! Like, never ever forever! But I had to stay strong! I chose that puzzle as a birthday gift for her knowing that it was going to be a challenge. She’d done 100 piece puzzles before, but now she was ready for the next level. I also knew that she could do it. And most importantly of all, I needed her to know that she could do it. With no help. From anyone.
Now, she did have a little help from one person, but this person is more of, what I might call, the anti-help. Younger brothers are put on this Earth for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to mess up your jigsaw puzzles in a vain attempt to make them better. This he accomplished with great aplomb. When he wasn’t climbing all over it, jamming wrong pieces into wrong places, he was laughing maniacally and trying to knock the whole thing onto the floor.
And I helped too, in a pretend sort of way. I played the role of the sous puzzler. She really wanted me to start putting it together for her, but I kept myself busy with looking busy, and I did some sorting and hunting instead. For instance, I helped turn all of the pieces right side up while she began putting the whole thing together. I found edge pieces for her and put them into a pile, and when all of the edge pieces had been found, I rummaged through the large mound of other pieces, pretending to look for more. Sometimes she was working on a red area, so I would hand her any pieces I saw with red on them, and other times we did the same for blue. But every piece of that puzzle was put into place by my daughter, and I couldn’t be more proud. Of myself. Because man, that was hard! I really, really, really wanted to put some pieces in!
I’m also proud of my daughter, which should go without saying. She finished the puzzle on her own. She told me afterward that it was really hard, but I could see the confidence and joy in her eyes once the last piece was in place. And then her brother tried to dump the whole thing onto the floor. So now that she has confidence, the next step is to get an even harder puzzle for her, to give her the gift of knowing that she still needs my help from time to time. And to give me the gift of putting some pieces in. Although, at the rate she’s going, she’ll probably be able to do it without me anyway.