My boy is a jigsaw genius, but am I missing something?

A life lesson in patience and perseverance badly backfires in the face of an infuriating toy

It was my wife’s fault, mostly. The entire chain of events can be traced back to one interaction she had a few months back with another mum, when the subject of jigsaws came up. Having always enjoyed them, our son is now so good at them he routinely completes them with the tiles facing down, ignoring the design in favour of merely matching the shapes on sight. Our natural inclination towards pride in our son notwithstanding, we allow that this is objectively impressive. It’s just that I also find it slightly unnerving, like something I can imagine kids being made to do in a Cold War orphanage.

My wife has no such qualms and has happily internalised this as one of his, and thus her, best qualities. ‘Benoît is great at jigsaws, too,’ the other mum said. ‘Really?’ my wife replied, her voice dripping with kindly derision, ‘Ours can do 60+.’ By this she meant jigsaws with 60+ pieces, not jigsaws judged only suitable for people aged 60 and over, but I didn’t want to interject as she was in full flow. ‘Does he do them upside down?’ she asked. I don’t know what she expected from this exchange, presumably for the other mum to admit her child was a doughy dunce compared to ours, and maybe to give us some money for time wasted. She winced to recall it a few days later, but it speaks to a confidence in our son’s problem-solving ability, which has now gotten us in other troubles.

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