Friday, April 1, 2011


4 : to have or establish a rapport

Last weekend, we took B and K to one of B's favorite stores.  She loves this place.  It's an eclectic mix of really cool things - jewelry, clothing, soaps, candles, purses, even puzzles.  While there, B found a puzzle of Alice in Wonderland.  It was a perfect puzzle for her: 500 pieces, challenging imagery and a cool box that looks like a book to hold all of the pieces.  We bought it for her and she and I worked on it over the span of two or three days until it was completed.

When we first started the puzzle, I was ready to quit.  This is a hard puzzle.  All of those cards that border it look remarkably similar unless you spend lots of time looking very closely.  I spent a few minutes on it that first day and wondered whether we'd bitten off more than we could chew.  Then I walked away.  But B didn't walk away.  She worked on the quote first, then Alice's body.  Meanwhile, she tackled the border in chunks, which made it more manageable.

After B had made some progress and it was clear she wasn't ready to give up on this puzzle, I joined her again.  I picked one area to work on and was encouraged to see some progress.  That kept me going.  B and I work puzzles well together.  While we were working this time, I told her that on my last silent retreat, I did a puzzle and it was the only time I felt a little lonely.  I felt lonely because I rarely do a puzzle alone - I always do it with B.  She smiled and asked whether I would do a puzzle on my retreat this weekend.

Puzzles are a natural fit for B.  She's highly visual, great a spatial concepts and mathematically minded.  While two of these three descriptors might fit me, I am legally handicapped in the area of spatial concepts.  It literally hurts my brain to try to figure out how to mentally flip and rotate figures.  Yet I like puzzles.  And I found with this puzzle that it was a joy to lose myself in it.  To look very closely at the box and see that the Queen of Hearts has quite a few differences from the Queen of Spades.  Who knew?  Did I have to move the pieces around to get them to fit?  Absolutely.  Sometimes it was absolutely comical to watch myself find the piece that I knew belonged in a spot and work to turn it the right way.  But instead of shaming myself for this, I smiled inwardly and thought, "I should probably do puzzles more often. Maybe I'd actually get better at this."

We finished the puzzle yesterday before school.  While we were on the last few pieces, B said, "The sad part will be taking this puzzle apart when we're finished. Let's leave it for Daddy to see when he gets home from work."  It's still sitting on the dining room table, but I've told B that we can take it apart and do it together one more time, then seal it and hang it on her wall.  (I also bought the Wizard of Oz puzzle by the same company for us to do before tackling Alice again.)

I'm leaving for a silent retreat momentarily.  As B headed out the door with J this morning for school, I told her I'll think about her as I work on a puzzle.  She gave me a hug, smiled and headed out without so much as a backward glance.  (This was in sharp contrast to K, who is nearly devastated any time I leave and had to make sure I knew it.)

Later this morning, I thought about how much I enjoy puzzle time with Bekah.  While we connect the pieces of the puzzle, we connect with each other.  And this daughter of mine loves connecting.  She can be prickly.  She wants connection on her own terms.  But that makes me all the more happy to seize the moments when they appear.  Perhaps I should start searching now for the perfect puzzles to complete during those teenage years when she hardly wants to inhabit the same room as me.  Nah.  I think I'll just savor the moment and look forward to the next puzzle that helps us connect.


Gigi McMurray said...

Love to hear your tales of connecting to your girls. They are so blessed. Miss you!

Variations On A Theme said...

Good for B! very impressive. (By the way, you used her actual name in the last paragraph...didn't know if you'd want to fix that.)