Saturday, June 5, 2010

Absolutely Puzzled

Since Calliope was born three months ago, the amount of time Benjamin spends watching TV has gone up dramatically. Though I have no problem turning on the tube for brief periods when I need to finish dinner, use the restroom, or shut myself in a closet to quietly sob out the day's frustrations (kidding!), I really was starting to worry about just how much TV he was getting. The fact that the first word out of his mouth after he wakes up is sometimes "Dora!" (as in the title character of his fave cartoon "Dora the Explorer") doesn't help. So in an effort to find an engaging activity for him that doesn't involve the TV, computer, or any other electronic babysitter -- I mean, device, I bought him some simple wooden jigsaw puzzles. I picked a set of four 12-piece puzzles with pictures of Benjamin's favorite vehicles on them - a bus, a choo choo train, a car, and a fye-uh twuck.

At first, Vince and I had to sit with Benjamin and assemble each puzzle with him. Benjamin would try to fit the pieces together incorrectly and throw them across the table when they wouldn't fit. But soon, we noticed that he was becoming more focused and more patient, taking the time to slowly try out each piece until they all fit together. Granted, there are only twelve pieces in each puzzle, but it wasn't bad for a toddler who is so impatient about wearing his favorite boots that he doesn't mind if he puts them on the wrong feet!

One particularly hectic morning, I popped Calliope in a sling, turned on Dora the Explorer, and went in to the kitchen to do some cleaning. I realized ten minutes later that I hadn't heard Benjamin shouting at the TV like he usually does when Dora's on. I went to the check on him and and almost passed out when I saw that the puzzles were assembled. My delight at seeing him successfully complete each puzzle was matched only by my joy that for once, the TV didn't win out over another activity. But as you can see here, sometimes Benjamin manages to, um, "multitask," though:

Even though he loves puzzles, he can't resist Dora the Explorer's siren song!

Vince likes to mess with Benjamin by combining his puzzles. He'll take several complete sets, break them down, and totally mix them up like they're mah jong pieces. Sometimes, he'll even chuckle this evil little chuckle. "Muahahaha! Take that, hapless little toddler!"

Benjamin's voice plaintively saying, "Uh-oh, missing piece!" just breaks my heart. I found that missing piece a little while later. It was inexplicably placed in a plastic cup inside one of the drawers of his toy chest. By then, Benjamin had moved on to the next activity, but I swear I saw Vince smiling to himself behind his paper.

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