I have a confession to make. I am a crossword puzzle addict. I love all crosswords, but diagramless puzzles are my favorites. The harder, the better. I love struggling to figure out not just the words but the pattern to put them in. There are tricks and clues that make this easier. For example, crosswords are always symmetrical, so if the top stumps me, I know I can work from the bottom up. But the really tough ones are always the most fun.
To my way of thinking, there’s nothing worse than a puzzle that is too easy. There is no sense of accomplishment—no personal satisfaction—without the struggle.
It’s hard not to see a parallel with some of the mistakes I made raising my kids. Too often, I swooped in, solving their problems, smoothing out the bumps in the road. The temptation was always there to offer too much help: It would be so much quicker if I tied that shoe for you. If I clean your room, you can go run through the sprinklers with the neighbor kids. In later years, I had the money to replace the new coat you lost or pay for the speeding ticket. When you found the perfect starter home, it looked like generosity to offer you the down payment. But is it?
What is lost when things come too easily? Important lessons are often learned in times of struggle. We can gain strength and confidence when we successfully work through difficulties.
As a grandmother of four bright and beautiful grandkids, I am trying hard not to rob them of the joy of figuring things out for themselves.