It's the season for blog posts about saying no to your kids more. I'm trying to think twice about what I say no to and why I'm saying it. That's after too much time over the years spent with moms who use "no" as the default answer to just about everything. Of course I'm going to refuse requests that are seriously unreasonable, or dangerous, or mean, or expensive or a bad idea for whatever reason. I'm talking about those "no"s that you say without even listening to anything that came after "Can I...?"
This week, my youngest son asked if he could have "one of those puzzles with lots and lots of little cardboard pieces."
I don't do jigsaw puzzles. My older two had wonderful wooden puzzles which they never put together. I decided early on that I'm not the kind of mom who keeps all of the pieces together. It's been years since we had anything like that in the house.
We stopped at the Dollar Tree where they have an entire aisle of jigsaw puzzles. They were the wrong kind. He wanted a puzzle in a tray. No problem...those were on the next aisle over. But those didn't have enough pieces. Leif wanted one with lots and lots of pieces and a tray so he could put it together in the car. (It's not uncommon for one of my kids to have his heart set on something that doesn't exist. Remember the possum costume?)
While I did some fast brainstorming and tried to figure out if there was a resonable way to make what he wanted happen, I told him to take a deep breath and trust me. Big silver foil baking trays are deep enough to keep the pieces from falling out and large enough to lay out the entire puzzle. But the bottom isn't flat enough to make a decent work surface. (We would up adding a library book to the mix.)
I've got to admit that I expected this project to end badly. Handing over a hundred piece puzzle to a little boy in the back set of the minivan, even with a big foil tray to contain the pieces, seemed like a recipe for disaster. But he had his heart set on it and I was willing to give him enough rope to hang himself. If the pieces wound up on the floor, I wasn't going to try to find them all.
By the end of the day that puzzle had been assembled and taken apart three times, all in the backseat, and we'd gone back to the store for a harder one. (It turns out that five hundred pieces is too many. And that's okay. Not finishing that puzzle doesn't mean we can't get another hundred piece puzzle later if he's still interested.)