By: Lora Wimsatt
There are only three pieces to the chunky wood puzzle – a dog, a cat, a bird.
Each piece has a wooden knob attached, very handy for picking the piece out of the frame.
Over and over – and over and over – I pick up each piece, saying carefully and clearly each time: “Dog. The dog says ‘Arf! Arf!’ Cat. The cat says, ‘Meow! Meow!’ Bird. The bird says, ‘Tweet! Tweet!’”
And then I put the pieces back into place, repeating it all over again: “Dog. The dog says ‘Arf! Arf!’ Cat. The cat says, ‘Meow! Meow!’ Bird. The bird says, ‘Tweet! Tweet!’ ”
My granddaughter stares at me, glances at the pieces. She is silent.
I hand her a piece. “Dog. Dog. The dog says ‘Arf! Arf!’”
My granddaughter says nothing.
“Where does the dog go?” I ask, offering her the frame. I give her a hint, pointing to the dog-shaped cutout on the board.
She is not interested in where the dog might go, instead decided she will go somewhere herself. She stands up and toddles away on her chubby bare feet, but goes only as far as the toy box. She picks up another toy and toddles back to me, thrusting it into my hands.
“Are you tired of dog, cat and bird?” I ask sympathetically. I can relate. “Okay, we can play with rings. See the rings?”
I turn the stack over and the plastic, multi-colored rings fall off and roll around us on the floor. I pick one up, the big one.
“Blue,” I say. “Blue.”
I drop it on the pole and pick up another one. “Green. Green.”
My granddaughter claps. She likes green. I am happy; green is my favorite color.
We keep going. “Yellow. Yellow. Orange. Orange. Red. Red.”
I turn the stack over so the rings fall off again, then set the base in front of her.
“Blue,” I prompt. “Where is blue?”
She picks up yellow, then green, then claps them together. I pick up blue and red and clap them together.
“Music,” I say, although the plasticy sound is not particularly melodious.
She drops the green ring and it rolls away. “Go get green,” I urge. “Go get green.”
Green is on its own. She picks up orange.
“Gwa,” she says. “Bahma ko.”
Close enough. “That’s right!” I cry. “Orange! Orange!”
She flings orange away. I hold blue and red toward her, but we are done with rings. It is time for blocks.
These are the nice ones, different colors and shapes. We didn’t get anywhere with rings, but maybe blocks will be the breakthrough.
“Red,” I say. “Red square. Blue. Blue rectangle. Yellow triangle. Green.”
I stop. I don’t know what to say about this shape. I finally decide on arch. “Green arch.”
I hand each block to her as I make the introductions, and to my delight, she stacks them on top of one another. “Very good! We can build!”
Our stack is surprisingly tall and is more or less steady, with me surreptitiously reaching over now and then to nudge a block over for better balance. But then, alas, a red triangle undoes it all: Swinging her small arm too quickly and too close to the tower, it all comes crashing down.
But it’s not a disaster at all. It is hilarious, and she laughs and laughs.
I laugh too, then hand her a block. “Yellow. Yellow square.”
Her daddy comes into the room. “What are you doing?” he asks.
I look up and smile as I answer. “We are building something.”
And we are. But it has nothing to do with blocks.
By: Lora Wimsatt