The family that plays together is the family that stays together is a sound theory, but in the real world it remains an elusive dream. These days, members of the family - from mother and father to each offspring - is hunched over his or her computer, studying (you hope), listening to an iPod or chatting on a cell phone.
You may go all day with little conversation except for, "Do you have much homework?" or "I hate school!" And then... back to your own world.
But I discovered an answer to this isolation last week when my grandson was taking care of me. As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed a jigsaw puzzle on the counter.
"Oh joy!" I thought. "We'll do the puzzle."
To add to my joy, a banner on the top of the box proclaimed that the puzzle glowed in the dark. Is there no end to the wonders of the modern world?
I called to my grandson who was sprawled on the sofa.
"How about working this puzzle?" I asked. "It glows."
He looked up.
"I guess so," he replied. "If you want to."
How could I resist such wild enthusiasm? I took the puzzle over to the large coffee table, opened the box and dumped all 1,000 pieces out. Then I laid down my first edict: We have to turn all the pieces over before we put any pieces together; second, make the border before we start the inside.
I could read his expression -she is nice and she is my grandmother, but she is insane. I started turning pieces over, and, shortly curiosity overcoming his reservations. My grandson followed.
We no sooner began the border than his older sister came in and asked what we were doing.
"Oh, ugh!" She said when we told her and headed up stairs.
Undaunted, we labored on till my daughter came home. When she saw what we were doing, she hurried over.
"You're doing the puzzle!" She said as she picked up a piece.
Inevitably one piece led to another, and when their father came in, the three of us were huddled over the coffee table. My daughter looked guiltily at the clock and said she had no idea it was so late and rose. My grandson and I puzzled on until the subject of homework came up. That ended the puzzle for the night.
I awoke to the bustle of morning and decided to stay where I was in the silence, but my grandson peeked around the door, saw I was awake and said, "Please don't do the puzzle while I'm at school."
With great restraint I stayed far away from it till I heard a voice calling, "I'm home!" No puzzle until homework was done was the new rule, and a new record for speed of homework completion was established.
His father came home, then his older sister came home, and my grandson and I puzzled until dinner time.
After dinner, the kids' daughter decided she'd join us until she'd put two pieces in, but who quits at two pieces? Suddenly it was past bedtime for my grandson and off, under protest, he vanished.
My daughter and I worked on, and my son-in-law decided to kibbutz "for just a minute." I finally went to bed after midnight, but I heard my daughter and son-in-law's voices until after 1:30 a.m.
My daughter and grandson took my granddaughter to the doctor the next day. We were back too late to puzzle before dinner, and my grandson had unfinished homework. I was left on my own until my daughter came over after dinner to see how I was doing, and she quickly settled down to find "one special piece."
My son-in-law decided to join the seekers.
My granddaughter sauntered downstairs, joined us at the table and asked if we had found what she and her friend had done in the afternoon when they came home from school. She then pointed out a block that they had put together while we were out. Her disdain had clearly been overcome by curiosity.
That final capitulation made me realize that if you put up a jigsaw puzzle, they will come and togetherness will surround you, until the puzzle is finished. Except finishing is tough to do when one piece is missing and everyone realizes that an impish child pocketed a piece so he can be the one to finish the puzzle.
Roberta Cole may be reached via the addresses listed below.[[In-content Ad]]