Puzzling Games

by gillis

Today I am home with both my children. The younger one is sick, having lived through the ordeal of vomiting in in his kindergarten class yesterday. The older one is home because it’s an professional development day for teachers today and she preferred hanging out with us to going to her father’s work.

We’ve spent the day playing Uno, Sorry, and Connect Four, and finally broke out a jigsaw puzzle. These activities require from me the same level of fake enthusiasm usually reserved for standardized testing days in the classroom. Most games and all puzzles fall into that category. I do these things with my kids because, like flossing, they are good things for us to do. I don’t necessarily enjoy them, but I enjoy spending time with my kids and they like doing them, so I play along. Usually I come around to enjoying things once they’re underway.

I find puzzles especially difficult to deal with. If I must work on a puzzle, I like to set up the outside frame pieces first so that there’s a fighting chance of completing the damn thing, but my son likes to put things together in small spurts. This means puzzles take a long time to complete. There is always a point in time when the puzzle seems like it will never gel, no gestalt will happen, the remaining pieces make no sense. Then suddenly an unlikely looking piece locks in somewhere and it opens the whole image up in a new way. The pieces start moving into place and suddenly the puzzle is complete. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say about this, please insert a profound quote about things coming right ’round again after the going gets tough. I do know that if you keep at it, and there are no missing pieces, the puzzle is eventually going to be complete. Just so long as no one gives up. You can’t give up.