Sep 22 2006

If you praise my son, I will love you forever.

Published by at 11:14 am under daily,kids

Ethan has always enjoyed puzzles. He has been doing puzzles for quite some time, including the huge floor type puzzle with the train and the first car that has “Aa” on it and it goes all the way to “Zz” and by the time it’s done it stretches from the family room all the way to the front entry. We have always indulged his fondness for puzzles, and he has gotten pretty good at them. We have a whole cupboard of puzzles.

Saturday, I sat down to make some Totoros. My kids love the movie, “My Neighbor Totoro” and I thought that Hilary Lang’s Wee Bunny pattern could easily just be called a totoro as well as a bunny. If I were snazzier, I would be able to adapt it so that it looks JUST like a totoro, but I’m not that snazzy.? So I was starting out, and Ethan decided he wanted to do a puzzle. Not any puzzle, but the 100 piece, age 5+ yellow cement mixer puzzle (a photograph, not an illustration). We get it out occasionally, but it is pretty difficult, being mainly yellow, and green (the trees in the background) without a lot of variation on these two colors. The ones he usually does are in the 50-60 piece category with several bright colors (usually with characters on them) that are age 3+. Anyway, when we do the cement mixer, one of us usually sits down with him to do it also, because it definitely is too difficult for a 4 year old.

I was getting started on the totoros, and told him, “I can’t help, because I’m going to be making totoros.” and he was fine with that, so we both sat working, he at the kitchen table and me in the family room for about 15-20 minutes, in silence. I called out, “How’re you doing?” and he sighed and called back in a wan, frustrated voice, “This puzzle is very hard. I really need some help.”

“Ethan honey, I told you I wouldn’t be able to help, because I’m making totoros, remember?”

(weary:) “I know. (pause.) It is just very tricky, mommy.”

Of course, I gathered my stuff and carried it into the kitchen to help him / work on cutting out the totoro pieces. I was astonished with what I saw.. in 20 minutes, he had about 60% of the truck done. The wheels were all together, though separate from anything else, he had the entire back end of the truck (which I think is the hardest part, and I always do it last) and a couple of sections of the front worked together.

I was truly amazed. I expressed my astonishment and lavished on the praise for doing so well and he positively glowed. It was like I had flipped a switch. Instead of seeing how far he had to go, he saw just how much he had accomplished, and he got excited and very proud, and eager to keep working.

So the next half hour, I cut out pattern pieces and helped him now and then with the puzzle, and then together, we finished up the surrounding background pieces. Ethan very proudly showed James the puzzle when he came upstairs.

The next morning, we slept in a bit. Ethan usually gets up and goes and plays by himself on the weekends. James got up and went downstairs to see what Ethan was up to. He had taken the puzzle apart, and was just finishing up the last pieces. I was a little dubious, actually. Could he really do the whole thing by himself? I thought maybe he had just taken some of it aparat and James saw him putting that together, but I was WRONG. Later that afternoon, with me sitting next to him sewing away on totoros, he completely destroyed the puzzle, making extra careful that every piece was disconnected, and then started working away on it again. And again, he did every piece by himself.

Judging from when Ethan usually wakes up and when James went downstairs and found him, we figure it took him about an hour to get to the 75% point where James sat down and helped with the finishing touches. When he did it again that afternoon, it took him about 45 minutes.

I am still flabbergasted that he did this puzzle – not so much that he COULD do it. The boy has been working on puzzles for a long time now, and he really does know the HOWs of it all, but he would have the patience and determination to keep at it until it was finished. I am so proud of him I could just burst.


I took the kids in to school today, which is a juxtaposition from what usually happens – James takes them in every other day of the week, and I pick them up. Fridays, I drop off, and James picks up. It’s the only day I get to actually see their main teachers, because by the time I pick them up, they’ve already gone and it’s the more general caretakers in charge.

We got to Ethan’s room today, and he ran right in to start playing with the Legos. His teacher was leaning on the door, and I asked how he’s been doing.

“He loves the blocks,” Mrs. M. said, “I put them out in the morning just for him. He is doing very, very good. He is so smart. So intelligent. He tries very hard. He was a little sad the first few weeks of school, I think because he didn’t know any of the other children, but now, now he is playing with the others. He is doing very well.”

She showed me a project they did of picture of themselves with a family member. Ethan did himself with Jocelyn. They cut out fabric and glued it onto the paper. She showed how he cut out very small pieces to make the details on the legs and shoes.

“See these small pieces he did? I was very impressed. He is very patient, VERY determined, which is very unusual for this age. He is a very smart boy.”

I told her how the puzzle and she agreed that it was impressive. Being that I’m only around my son, and of course, I’m horribly biased, I do wonder if some of the things he does actually are advanced for his age or am I just being motherish about it all. It’s nice to hear that it’s not just all in my head.

Today is going to be a WONDERFUL day.

– amy, wallet schmallet – I AM RAISING A GENIUS!

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “If you praise my son, I will love you forever.”

  1. Hillyon 22 Sep 2006 at 6:36 pm

    That is awesome and has to make you feel proud! I don’t even have a kid, but I get so worked up over how smart my nephew is too!

  2. annaon 22 Sep 2006 at 11:46 pm

    Way to go Ethan! My kids have never felt strongly for or against puzzles. He sounds very detail oriented. And very cool that you are making Totoros. I think I’ve posted before about our love for all Hayao Miyazaki movies.