November 30, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, I didn’t feel like grading portfolios or answering work emails or doing any of the items on my long to-do list. I kept thinking about the little neighbor kids, and wondering where they were. I played the piano for a little while, but then I relinquished my spot on the bench to Shaggy Hair Boy, since he said he needed to practice.

So I decided to do a jigsaw puzzle.

I hadn’t done one in years. But a few weeks ago, a friend offered me a jigsaw puzzle: someone had given it to her as a gift, and she didn’t want it. Just the sight of the box brought back childhood memories, and I took the puzzle home.

When I was a kid, we sometimes spent winter afternoons doing jigsaw puzzles. My mother would set up a folding table near the front window, where we could get the late afternoon light. I’d sit in a wooden chair, studying the pieces, gathering ones that had similar colors, putting them together to form an image. My mother would work on the puzzle for a few minutes, then go into the kitchen to make dinner. My brother would take the spot next to me, gathering pieces systematically, and announcing anything he considered a big breakthrough. “Okay, folks, the barn is now connected to the sky.” Sometimes we’d talk, sometimes we’d work in silence. When my eyes got tired of staring at puzzle pieces, I’d look up at the sky outside the window, hoping for snowflakes.

So yesterday, I pulled a folding table out of the garage, set in up in my front window, and worked on a jigsaw puzzle. The craziness inside my head seemed to calm down as I moved the pieces around. I got a little feeling of satisfaction I got every time I snapped a piece into place.

“What’s this?” Shaggy Hair Boy asked incredulously when he came home and saw the puzzle. “Is this because the neighbor kids aren’t here?”

When Boy in Black and First Extra came through the door, First Extra surveyed the table with interest. “Wow,” he said. “This is old school procrastination.” He sat down on the ottoman and picked up the box.

He’d read my blog post, he said. He and Skater Boy had talked about it at lunch. He ran his fingers through the box of pieces, looking for edge pieces. I snapped some more pieces into place. Then the boys went out in the backyard to throw.



Songbird said...

Wish I could come over and work on it with you.

susan said...


I'm glad you have your throwing boys around you.

Kimberly said...

Beautiful. The lighting and the words.

Barbara said...

I haven't done a puzzle for years. I would like to. I like your set up.

I hope it helps to ease things.

I'm thinking of you and the little neighbour kids.

sherry said...

I have a career that carries with it situations like you are experiencing.

After many years, I have come to realize that I may or may not be able to save the life.....but I can and have saved the day.

You saved many, many days for these children. In God's time that may be a lifetime.

I hope that helps.

Word verification: tough

Sarah Sometimes said...

"Old-school procrastination"! I love it. Thinking of you, and the kids.

Val said...

thinking of you all

Lomagirl said...

For this and the last post- a big internet hug. And one for biker boy, too.
He and his sister and family are often in my prayers.

BrightenedBoy said...

I hope the puzzle helps.

Small things, simple things, can often be very comforting.

And at least you're still relatively close by to Biker Boy, right?

In an unrelated note, it must present you with a strange duality to have real-life friends reading your blog. On the other hand, you can share and discuss it with them. On the other hand, I imagine you soemtimes feel inhibited about whether you can be totally honest.

jo(e) said...

Songbird: I wish you could too!

Sherry: Thanks. I do try to think in those terms. When we took Little Biker Boy out to the movies on Saturday, and I watched him as he was laughing and eating the treats we'd bought him, I thought to myself, "Well, at least he's having a good time right now." That's really all I can give these kids.

BB: Most of the time, I forget that anyone I know in real life reads the blog. (The vast majority of my friends don't.) So it always comes as a surprise when someone mentions the blog. Yeah, in some ways, it limits what I put on the blog -- I have to be careful to respect other people's privacy -- but I've found that nothing on the internet is private and it's better just to assume that anyone might stumble onto anything I've written.

We do live fairly close to where Biker Boy is staying right now. I'm relying on the fact that his mother will likely call me to ask for a favor (she has no car) like she often does, and that's how I'll be able to maintain contact. If that doesn't happen, I'll figure out something else.

immersion said...

"old school procrastination" cracked me up.

Lilian said...

I totally second Sarah Sometimes & immersion, I LOVED the "old school procrastination" line!! ;-)

They really do know you, don't they? Asking whether you were doing a puzzle because Biker boy was gone... bittersweet.