Last year, Shlomo’s ganenet expressed concern that he was not yet doing 24 piece puzzles independently. I didn’t think it was a result of anything except a lack of interest (Why should I bother working hard? It’s not that interesting . . .), but I agreed with her that it was probably worth checking out.
A few months after that, Shlomo, who up until then hadn’t been interested in puzzles for more than five minutes at a time, suddenly discovered a whole new challenge. He took out the puzzles that we had, and started working on them, alone and with us. I even tricked him into putting together 12 of the matching-set things, that are two pieces each. I had to help him and encourage him a bit, but most of them he did on his own.
From there it continued, on and off, until at some point a few months ago, I realized we needed harder puzzles. We had a 24 piece and a forty-eight piece. I looked into getting a few 100-piece puzzles, and when Mom asked if there was anything I thought Shlomo would enjoy or want, I told her to get a couple 100-piece puzzles. She was surprised, to say the least, and said that in her opinion, 100 pieces was too much, and we should stick with 48. I said yes, 48 is a bit of a challenge, and 100 will definitely be tough at first, but in a couple of months 48 would be easy and the 100 would be doable, independently. She shrugged, and bought 100 pieces.
And . . . Shlomo does them, sometimes with help, and sometimes almost by himself. They are a challenge, but they are a challenge on his level. And Yitzchak and I rediscovered our own love for puzzles. The first few nights, after Shlomo went to bed, we took out his puzzles and did them together, challenging ourselves and each other to go as fast as possible and to see who could do the most pieces.
Which is when we got the idea to buy ourselves a nice, grown-up puzzle of 1000 pieces. I went online and found Puzzleland, and we went through the grueling process of deciding which puzzles we actually liked, and then each of us ranked them from 1 to 10, and Yitzchak assigned points to each number, which were then added up so that each puzzle had a number of points that reflected its standing on both of our lists.
We ended up with my number 1 being his number four, my number 2 being his number five, and vice versa, with our number threes the same (I think). In the end, we decided on a ship at sea (his #1, my #4), but also decided to go to the store (despite the risk of it not being in stock), instead of ordering online.
Well, it turned out that the store near us didn’t have the ship puzzle in stock. But, they did have the hot air balloons (my #1, his #4), and so we ended up getting that one instead.
And while I was checking out, they told me that they were having a sale, and I could get a second product at half price. At first, I wasn’t going to go for it, because we hadn’t budgeted it in. But when they suggested a roll-up puzzle mat, I decided to go for it. Hey, it is an investment, right?
Actually, what really prompted this purchase, besides for our love of puzzles (which maybe would have been content to wait until we had a little more money) was the fact that we can never find a babysitter, and don’t live near family . . . which means we almost never get time just to ourselves, that isn’t dominated by household tasks. And honestly, a cup of tea with a piecec of cake doesn’t give us a long enough distraction from chores, so that we can just sit and talk.
So the puzzle was a way to give us “date” time, and honestly, since it is reusable and doesn’t cost us the time and energy needed to find a babysitter; the stress of getting out at the end of the day, when everything is hectic and all we want to do is sit at home; and wondering how our kids are doing (and if the babysitter could actually get them to the bomb shelter within 90 seconds, if there were a rocket attack); it’s a pretty good deal.
We did a lot on Thursday night (more than we had planned to do, and therefore went to bed later than we had planned to do), and then took it out for a few minutes on Friday afternoon. That was a mistake, because Shlomo wanted to help, and got frustrated and slightly careless. So the new rule is: We take out our puzzle only when Shlomo (and Tova) are sleeping. Except that today, we broke the rule: We wanted Shlomo to nap, and Shlomo wanted to help with the puzzle. So we made a deal; he helped with the puzzle (he chose to do some of the grass), and then he went to sleep . . . and we finished the puzzle.
Was it a waste of money? We don’t think so, but only time will tell. I do think that we made a mistake by allowing all the toys in this house to be Shlomo’s (or, children’s) until now. Now Shlomo has to digest the idea of Ima and Abba having toys that aren’t for children. We probably should’ve done this sooner, if only for the educational value. But I guess we’ll see.
Now the question is, do we buy a second puzzle (and alternate), or do we just do this one over again?