Warm memories at the Puzzle table

Puzzle table at The Little Blue House

Warm memories flooded me as I looked at this sketch for “A Trip to the Hotsprings: A Marshmallow the Magical Cat Adventure.” It will be the most therapeutic of the Marshmallow books with a story that arrived in pictures, then. words- the theme is helping Avry with her anxiety. In the story, she and Marshmallow, along with their cousin go to see Nana and they all take a trip to the hot springs. Here, we are normalizing the concept of going to a therapist, as Avry goes to see her therapist before her trip. She sees her therapist as a “kind of friend” who accepts her “as she is” and always listens.

For all those who knew me as a practicing psychologist in Colorado, this sight of the puzzle table will bring back associations to The Little Blue House. For me it invoked memories of laughter, moments in a busy day where I thought I could just find “one” piece, and time when the opportunity arose to sit with a girl and work on the puzzle. When a child is having trouble finding the words, parallel play is often a doorway into opening up and sharing about experiences and feelings. What that means is “doing” something with a child and opening up space for conversations to happen with little to no pressure. For me as a psychologist (and parent), these were often activities like a puzzle, a visit to Crackpots for pottery, a drive for ice cream or smoothies, and pizza and a girl’s group.

Our theme this week is Artsy Alphabet and Count with Me: books to be read “in relationship.” This glimpse at the puzzle table is a continuation of that. A puzzle teaches about the concept of a ‘whole’ and that pieces are parts of a bigger picture. What an analogy for life! It helps develop basic skills – concentration, problem solving, shape recognition, and yes, even today, provides a sense of satisfaction. What it also provides is a way to be “beside” a child, to foster collaboration, and open the door for some conversations that may be less challenging without direct eye contact. Developing and maintaining relationship is key to open communication. The how of it can get creative.

Dr. Kimberly Brayman