The Puzzle

Yesterday I bought a new puzzle. At WalMart.

I know, I should buy the fair trade, organic, shade grown puzzles but I was at the mall with Fresco and I was looking for rubber boots for Trombone (surprisingly difficult to find, given that it pisses rain here 6 months out of the year, yet all I can find is SNOW BOOTS. Really? Really!) and I needed something for Fresco to hold onto while I looked for rubber boots so that he wouldn’t remove all the shoes from their racks and / or run off to smash an HD TV.

Yes, he loves puzzles at the moment. It would be a suitable distraction.

(And yes, I did find plain rubber boots in size 11 for Trombone at WalMart. I knew I would, but it was still my last resort.)

It would be quick and easy to select a puzzle, I thought. But first I had to find the puzzles, which was hard because:

a) the first four isles were Toy Story Stuff
b) Fresco loves loves loves anything Toy Story related.

I had to pick him up and put my hand over his face while I hustled past the shelf with the Talking! Musical! Buzz Lightyear! Then we bustled past the Thomas the Tank Engine displays with only a quick glance at the Smurfs (Smurfs are back, apparently) and finally I found the puzzle shelf. One shelf. Slightly bigger than a breadbox. It contained, in the appropriate 24 – 50 piece jigsaw range:

– glow in the dark puzzles
– 3D puzzles
– puzzles that are holograms
– puzzles that are magnets so you can do your puzzle on the fridge?? because having a kid sit in front of the fridge is convenient for everyone?
– one puzzle that didn’t do any tricks. It had kittens on it.

It is hard, it turns out, to find nice, 24 – 50 piece jigsaw puzzles that are not FANCY or MAGIC. Why would a puzzle glow in the dark? Are you DOING puzzles in the dark? Turn a light on!

I wanted to buy the kitten puzzle but Fresco didn’t want it. He wanted the magnetic one because it was a Toy Story puzzle and he loves Toy Story because Trombone loves Toy Story and also we already have a Toy Story puzzle and kids like things that look like the things they already have. And also TOY STORY.

“No,” I said, “not that one. How about this one? It has kittens!”
“Don’t like kittens,” he said, “like BUZZ LIHHHYEEAH! To infinity! And beyonnnnn!”

Eventually I distracted him with a Thomas the Tank Engine puzzle (you know I am desperate if I am choosing Thomas because I don’t like that Thomas, not one bit) that claimed to be a Magic Hologram and we brought it home and took it out of the box. Which is when I fully understood the implications of a HOLOGRAM puzzle. Like puzzles aren’t hard enough, this one’s pieces look one way now and whoops! another way when you look at them from over here.

Trombone did the puzzle, no problem. Of course, he is 4 and it’s rated for 3s and over. Fresco tried to do the puzzle and got exasperated. I tried to do the puzzle and it gave me a headache.

I know. It’s WalMart. What do I expect. But come on – a puzzle is a simple toy, easy to make, box, ship, sell. It doesn’t have to do any additional tricks – the trick is, it’s a bunch of pieces of cardboard that, when you put them together right, make a picture! THAT is the trick.

Luckily I am not a parent ten years from now when the puzzles, when assembled, will come to life on your table, tell you a Disneyfied story tangentially related to the puzzle, and then charge your credit card for the privilege.

/grumpy old lady out.

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