Thursday, November 7, 2013

Photo A Day, Day 7: Yes

Parents of small children deal with minor frustrations every day. Frustrations such as finding three left shoes but no rights in the child's closet; such as realizing you're out of diapers (or, even worse, baby wipes) in the midst of a major poopsplosion; such as your child announcing AFTER you've spent 20 minutes putting on his ski jacket, snow pants, snow boots, hat, and mittens that he needs to pee. But one of the worst - and most common - frustrations that parents of small children face is toys and games comprised of small pieces, without any one of which said toy or game is non-functional.

In my children's playroom right at this moment, there is a Thomas the Tank Engine matching game that cannot be played without searching through the cards to remove any odd cards missing their match. There are at least three puzzles which are missing one or more pieces. There is a pair of Barbie dolls wearing only one shoe each. And there is a brand-new game called "Angry Birds Mega Smash" which is my son's pride and joy, his favorite toy since he received it for his birthday a few days ago. It's a cool game, it's just challenging enough that he has to really work and think to play it well, and (best of all) he likes playing with it by himself as well as with Mom or a friend. But it has too many blasted pieces, which somehow never manage to be in the same place at the same time.

To add insult to injury, it came with the pieces tucked into the wells of a molded plastic tray. You would think that would be convenient, and it would be, if it were being put away by an adult. But figuring out which pieces nest inside which other pieces to fill each slot is simply beyond the abilities of the average 4-year-old. Which means that Mom gets to put it away. And which also means that certain pieces CANNOT be put away until certain other pieces are found. You can't put away the pack of cards until you've stacked the three short planks that nest under them. And you can't put away the three longer planks until you've stacked the little triangles that support them. It makes cleaning up at the end of the day, instead of an exercise in orderliness and satisfaction in a job well done, an exercise in futility and a cause of gritted teeth and muttered swear words.

But the flip side of that frustration is a masterful sense of accomplishment when not only did you find all the little pieces but you figured out where each one of them goes. And when you look at that little molded plastic torture chamber, with each of its nooks filled with the corresponding figurine or building piece, you can't help but pump your fist in the air and cry out a triumphant, "YES!"

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