Parenting

How have your children surprised you?

A simple Christmas gift leads to a heartwarming new milestone for Jennifer's daughter.

Gillian pieces together the John Deere puzzle.

For Christmas, my father gave us a 500-piece John Deere puzzle. By “us” I mean my husband and myself. But my children both love tractors and puzzles and in the days following Christmas they begged us to let them try and piece together the gift.

Finally my daughter took matters into her own hands and opened the box on her own, spilling 500 tiny cardboard pieces all over the living room floor (said floor being covered in dog hair and pine needles because I hadn’t had a chance to vacuum). As I was about to scold her for making a mess of an already messy room, Gillian plucked two pieces from the jumble and and fit them together.

“Look! I found the puppy face!” she beamed.

A tiny detail on the puzzle — a wicker basket of five yellow puppies. Two pieces out of the 498 strewn all over the floor had the dark brown eyes of one of the puppies. Slowly she picked out more pieces of the puppies and within 10 minutes — a lifetime for a nearly-three-year-old pre-schooler — the basket of puppies was complete.

In the meantime, my six-year-old son had returned from a playdate and began to collect pieces that belonged to the iconic green and yellow John Deere logo on a small toy tractor. The two children worked side-by-side for half an hour and pieced together nearly a quarter of the puzzle. And me? I sat and watched with my husband, who was equally proud and amazed.

What have your children done lately that has surprised you? What stories about milestones or cooperative play can you share?