Tuesday, August 22, 2006


My sister gave my children a bunch of puzzles. Among them was a 3-d house puzzle, a glow in the dark puzzle, a 3 little pigs puzzle, and various animal puzzles, especially horse puzzles. I love puzzles - jigsaw, pencil and paper, visual, logic - and I am fairly good at them. Herein lies a problem.

I realized the problem this weekend as the children and I were assembling. As I was plipping pieces in place as quickly as I could my son got up and left the table. He said, "I'm not good at puzzles." At that moment, I realized that I had allowed my personal space to swell so large that I pushed my children out - completely out of the room. I was able to get him to come back, but not with the same enthusiasm. Needless to say, I felt terrible. They were, after all, his and Princess's puzzles. I tried to explain that I had had much practice so it seemed easier when I was assembling. I knew that while I was practicing, I never had anyone reaching over my shoulder plipping pieces making me feel insecure about my lack of expertise. So, I stepped away from the table.

Stepping back and allowing them to feel the joy of seeing a picture come together by their hands was so difficult for me. I, so, wanted to help (do the puzzles). I wanted to share my love of puzzles, but in doing so I knew I was extinguishing a joy in them.

You say, "It was only a puzzle, so what?" But, I wonder if I have inadvertently extinguished other fires.


Erin Monahan said...

I've caught myself doing this with my kids, with writing. It is such a love of mine that I try to make theirs perfect, forgetting tht they're kids, and that if I make it a lesson, it won't be enjoyable...

I've learned, with much difficulty, not to bbe so anal about spelling and grammar, so they can learn to love it as I do.

And like you, I wonder what else I've done this with in the past...

Hornblower said...

I think this is one of the pitfalls of homeschooling in a smallish family. Enthusiasm in a teacher of a whole class, or a club, or even in a large family is dissipated - the teacher or parent simply physically can't be that involved with each & every child. But in a small family, we can really overwhelm them with our enthusiasm. Tough issue.

mama said...

Wisteria, the reason that you had no interference when you were doing puzzles is that you were and still are incredibly good at it--much better than I, then or now. You had an amazing talent for it which is probably why you are having a hard time letting the children struggle. I tended to hover when you were practicing piano. Mama

wisteria said...

I can imagine that my piano practice would make you uncomfortable. Thanks for visiting!

zilla said...

Oh, dear. I ask myself these types of questions all the time. I just know that my Moose could be a brilliant artist or writer, but he stopped trying quite young, because, "why compete?" On the other hand, I would never try to match wits with him in math.

Myrtle has finally come to a point where she will make strides, not worrying so much about the fact that Mom does it better, but knowing that I love nothing more than to consult with her when asked.

I think the key with kids is to remember to maintain an attitude of receptivity and encouragement. Hard for me. I can be a flaming bulldozer when I'm doing something with them that I love and am good at!

Maybe that's part of why my homeschooling attempt with Myrtle lasted a whole two weeks. The other part was, she is Buddhist if anything, and I was trying to offer her biology and history from a Christian perspective. Christian homeschool was not my first choice, but the only option in my area.

The odd thing is, of all the people I know, Myrtle is the one who most closely walks the Christian walk -- she just could never tolerate the Christian talk.

Odd how things flesh out; odd how the pieces of the puzzles fit together.

I admire your reflection here.

Susan said...

Wisteria - I am sorry but I am probably the only one of your readers that laughed out loud thinking of your pure and uncontained joy when putting that puzzle together! You always were the queen of puzzledom.... Don't beat yourself up... Princess and Pink Panther are very lucky to have such an accomplished puzzle mama(among many other talents).... Your sister speaking here.