Solving the PuzzleAugust 16, 2010 at 12:31 am | Posted in Lollipop | 22 Comments
Tags: Challenges, Children, Growing Up, Milestones, Motherhood, Problem Solving, Puzzles, Relationships
Lollipop’s always been into puzzles. But these days, it’s serious. She’s into them. With italics.
One day last week, I realized I hadn’t heard the stomping and slamming that usually occurs when she is changing her outfit 28 times and looking for whichever book goes best with blue sequins being quiet during nap time. I concluded that she was asleep and eventually went to wake her, lest she be up until the wee hours of the morning.
But when I walked in her room, she was sitting on her plastic green stool at her little wooden table. Doing puzzles. She had four put together already and was working on a fifth one. All by herself.
Learning the Rules
This was a first. Over the course of the week, she had done puzzles with my dad. With my mom. With Daddy. She had done puzzles while stiff-arming her brother, who wanted to haul the colorful pieces off in his Caterpillar tractor.
But she had always needed help matching the partial image on the puzzle piece to the complete picture on the box. Needed help fastening the pieces together. Needed encouragement to finish, to try again, to keep looking.
As I rested and healed, I watched her with each person. She and Pawpaw first made two piles, one for edge pieces and one for center pieces. She and Gramy dug through to find the four corners first. She and Daddy matched pieces to the picture on the box and approximated where they might fit. She listened quietly as each person taught her “how to put a puzzle together.”
Connecting the Dots
But when I watched her in her room, on her own, I noticed that she has another strategy altogether. She starts with the part of the puzzle she likes best — Snow White’s billowing dress, Dora’s silly monkey, Mater’s snaggled teeth — and works outward from there.
I was amazed that my baby sat there, attentive, concentrating, working on her own. I was struck by the complex problem-solving skills and mental synthesis required to take in different strategies and refine one of her own. And I wondered how many times I’ve told her the “right way” to do something. How many times have I overlooked her way?
The Missing Piece
Somehow, right in front of me, she has become a unique little person, with preferences and perspectives all her own. And me? I’ve been looking at the pieces of her personality, forgetting that they fit together into something bigger.
She’s changing every day. She’s growing. She’s learning. She’s thinking and rethinking.
She’s a puzzle I can’t wait to see completed.
When did you realize your child was a person in her own right? How do you nurture that fledgling personality? And how do you put a puzzle together??