Monday, June 26, 2006

It's a Puzzlement

When visiting the folks, the four of us sat down to do a jigsaw puzzle.

Afterward, I was explaining to a friend that we all had different puzzle-solving styles, and we realized it probably said something about each of us.

My mother gathered up all the edge pieces and put together the "frame" of the puzzle first.  This is how she taught me to do puzzles when I was a little kid.  It's her tried and true method for doing puzzles, so it makes sense that it would be her first line of attack.

When helping to sort out edge pieces for her, I also started roughly sorting the remaining pieces into groups -- those with windows, grey roof pieces; brown roof pieces; brown wagon pieces, white canoe pieces, etc.  (I left the greenery, the sky and the flowers all mixed together to one side for future sorting.)  Then, once the sorting was all done, I grabbed one set of pieces (the windows) and starting putting together a bunch of the windows that were in the puzzle, then slowly added pieces around them to complete part of a building. -- This makes sense, too.  Normally, I'd approach a puzzle like my mom and do the edge first.  But mom already had the edges covered, so I left that to her and found another place where I could be useful.  This is often my M.O.  I try not to step in on someone else's project (even if it is where I would normally start) but to find something else that I can make my own.

My sister went back and forth between different tasks.  She'd sort pieces for awhile, then work on the edge with the available pieces, then (when she wasn't getting anywhere with that) she'd go back to sorting, maybe to stop to work on a small object that she saw some pieces for, then back to the edge, back to sorting, another object....  Classic multi-tasking.  She also probably got a lot more of the puzzle put together than I did.  When I wasn't getting anywhere with a window, I'd just look at every other piece on the table until I found the one window piece I needed.  If she wasn't getting anywhere with something, she'd leave it and go on to something else that she could make progress on.

And then there's my father.  He's generally the one who likes to be in charge of aproject.  I have no doubt that if he had any confidence in his own puzzle-solving abilities that he would've put together an overall plan and then delegated tasks to each of us.  But what was so interesting about this was that he felt he had no Jigsaw Puzzle Cred, so he waited for one of us to give him a particular task to do.  (Which, of course, he then accomplished.  And waited for us to give him something else to work on.)  It isn't often that I see my dad dealing with something that he feels unqualified to do, and it was kind of interesting to see that his response to that is not to just jump in and give it a go (and risk screwing up something that one of the rest of us was working on) but to instead wait for someone to delegate a task to him.

Interesting to see the four different approaches to the puzzle come together (and make significant progress on the stupid puzzle).

So, how do you approach jigsaw puzzles?

1 comment:

helmswondermom said...

Very interesting entry.  I learned to begin as you and your mother, by separting out all of the edge pieces and putting together the frame first.  Then, I suppose, I do some of the sorting you were talking of when there are specific sections that you can readily identify and group together.