Yeah, I know the title is a rather terrible pun.  Forgive me, it’s still early and I haven’t yet finished my coffee.

A couple of months ago, I read this awesome post over at Just Tutes (a fantastic blog!), and it’s been in my mind ever since.  I don’t know that I share the author’s specific issue with regulating the proper use of crayons, but I’ve come to realize that I have a similar problem with puzzles.  You know, those little designed-for-toddler puzzles with the big knobs so they can lift out the bugs or farm animals or shapes or whatever.  Stephen loves picking them up and putting them back down, but he hasn’t yet mastered fitting them back in perfectly, so sometimes they end up rotated several degrees from their proper orientation, sitting on top of their spot.  Or, worse yet, sitting on top of some other spot.

I say worse yet because I’ve come to realize that this bothers me much more than it should.  I mean, he’s 13 months old.  And yet I feel a compulsion to “help” him get the pieces back into their correct slots, to keep him from trying to put the horse where the cow goes, and it drives me crazy that one of the pieces for his four-piece bug puzzle has been missing for weeks.  The empty spot mocks me when I’m putting the rest of his toys back in their baskets.

The last thing in the world I want to do is to teach him that he needs to do things perfectly or not do them at all (something I’ve always struggled with personally) or that he should get an adult to do things for him that he’s capable of doing himself.  So I’m trying not to intervene when the puzzle ends up looking like a pile of mismatched pieces, because he’s having fun whether or not he’s “doing it right.”  I encourage him when he moves the correct piece over its spot, mostly because I do want him to learn to visually identify the difference between a blue circle and a brown rectangle, but I’m resisting the urge to guide his chubby little hand and put the piece in properly.  Of course, come naptime and bedtime I do reassemble the puzzles, and try to shut out the mocking voice of the ant puzzle piece who is surely buried under a piece of furniture somewhere in the house…

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