May the force be with you.

The jigsaw.

At Christmas I did a couple of jigsaws. In the past, I have always loathed them. My hatred was such that I never managed to put it aside in order to be able to do them with my children, even though doing jigsaws is seemingly a key part of childhood development and the acquisition of fine motor skills.

I do remember feeling incredibly guilty when our lovely child minder told me how good my three year old was at them. Like her Cumbrian accent, she clearly had not got that from me.

For some reason, at Christmas, I got slightly hooked on two round bird jigsaws at my mother in law's house. And having bought my son a 1000 piece Star Wars puzzle for Christmas, I decided to give that a go this February break.

Those who know me will know that, as part of my new acting post at school, I have to write the school timetable this year. I am petrified about it as I have done training but never actually produced a timetable on my own. In my talks about options to pupils, I have explained that creating the timetable is like creating a huge jigsaw that carefully matches pupil desires with staffing and accommodation and trying to get the best fit possible.

In my head, this jigsaw was a metaphor for that process and I superstitiously told myself that if I could do it, I could do the timetable.

I have an inordinate amount of work to do at present but, having put in 13 hour days for the past month, I was determined not to give my days off over to work.

And so, a gentle jigsaw distraction.

Three days on (and approximately 16 hours) and I have learnt a lot.

1. It is not work that causes me stress. It is the challenges I set myself in my head. Who would have expected that thought of a jigsaw would wake me in the early morning two days in a row, anxious and champing at the bit to get on with it?

2. Jigsaw building requires specialist clothing. My back is wrecked and my knees and elbows are raw.

3. Looking at things with fresh eyes has huge benefit. The impossible becomes possible again.

4. I catastrophize. A lot. "It's going out the bloody window!!". "There must be pieces missing!!" "I AM DEFEATED". "SEE, I TOLD YOU I CAN'T DO A TIMETABLE!!"

5. There are some things that just need time and patience.

6. It is ok to ask for help. Although I did the lion's share, the bits I did with my children kept me going and really helped.

A ridiculous waste of time? Maybe.

But a good opportunity to reflect on how my mind works and why the how of doing is often as important as the what.

And also an excuse to feel thrillingly, childishly and overwhelmingly proud of what we have achieved!!!

Now, any suggestions for the next one....?

Author Profile

Lena Carter

Lena Carter

Dep Head Pupil Support in Scotland.

109 stories


Kevin Carson Kevin Carson @kevincarson 8 months ago
Wonderful! The timetable will be a doddle, Lena.
Melanie Collins Melanie Collins @jigsawmel 8 months ago
Jigsaws will feature in my next post!
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