When we visited the base Marine Corps Thrift Store, I was impressed. Putting aside the massive amount of stuff filling the shop, the items were well organized and displayed. A small child’s play area, along with a television, is located next to the gently used toys and puzzles. It was there I made a rookie parenting mistake.
Given my daughter’s love of the sea, my Husband’s fondness for dolphins, and my love of puzzles, I purchased a seascape “mega puzzle” for .75 cents. That was months ago. Since then, the box has remained hidden away in a closet, never having been opened.
A few weeks ago, I decided to introduce [S] to puzzles. I was speaking to a dear friend of mine on the phone and mentioned opening the puzzle. In rapid fire succession came the questions. “How many pieces are in the puzzle?” 750, I replied. “What is the recommended age range?” 12 and older, I acknowledged. “How big is it?” I don’t know.
“No.” It was firm. It was matter-of-fact. It was finite. “That puzzle is far too big for [S],” she explained. “You don’t want anything with small pieces,” she continued. “And you definitely don’t want anything with more than 50 large pieces.” Admittedly, the dolphin puzzle may have been too advanced for a soon-to-be-three-year-old, but I thought I could help her and it would be a good experience. My mother-of-three friend knew differently. “Don’t open that puzzle. Do you understand?,” she demanded. “I’m looking online right now. Here’s a puzzle of the ocean. It’s a floor puzzle; it’s two by three feet. What’s your address? Okay, it’s ordered.”
Last weekend, [S] opened a package containing a large piece puzzle, specifically designed for children three years old and older. As I watched her open the box, I began to understand my friend’s admonition not to open the 750-piece puzzle. Within a few minutes, pieces were everywhere. Fortunately, they were large easy-to-find pieces. Then, the magic began. Sitting on her father’s lap, [S] began to learn how to put the pieces together. And she did so over and over again.
To my dear friend, thank you. Thank you for averting tears of frustration (both mine and [S]’s). Thank you for gifting a beautiful puzzle to [S]. And, most of all, thank you for not laughing at me when I told you about my ambitious–and foolish–750-piece puzzle endeavor.