The Daily Puzzle

A few years ago, I started a dinnertime ritual with my kids / teenagers: in addition to sharing the “best part” and “worst part” of thy day, thou shalt also complete a puzzle from the day-by-day calendar. I shared custody, so I figured they would only do this a maximum of 15 days out of the typical 30 minus any nights when an after-school practice or event would interrupt our dinnertime slot. There would be plenty of days to go around.

It wasn’t long before the two older ones wanted to do more than one puzzle in the evening. The reasons varied: sometimes it was because they didn’t get that day’s puzzle right and wanted to redeem themselves, other times they claimed the puzzle was too easy so it went too quickly.

This resulted in us rapidly getting to “today’s date”.

Getting to today was a thing — more of a thing than I was anticipating, mainly because my youngest, then around 9 years old, had a rule that you can’t get to tomorrow until tomorrow. The only puzzles you were allowed to complete were everything up to today’s. You can steamroll through the ones from the past, but that’s it.

Try telling that to the 15-year-old. One evening when we were caught up to that day’s page, they ripped off tomorrow’s puzzle and got to work, without a second thought.

The pitch of her squeal reached levels only the neighborhood dogs could hear.

An otherwise pleasant puzzling evening turned into what I expected would be a raging debate, complete with angry shouts and slammed doors. I braced myself for another day in the life with raging hormones.

That’s not what happened, though. Instead, my oldest put down their pencil, and asked if either of the other two wanted help on the ones they were working on. Putting aside her insane charisma and that she has her brothers wrapped around her very wise, very accurate finger, we all quickly conceded that she made an excellent point.

As excited as we are to get to tomorrow’s puzzles to make up for feeling crappy about today’s, they aren’t available yet. You gotta wait.

Meanwhile, more often than not, the best puzzles — the ones that feel the best inside when you can solve them — are in fact, the puzzles of today. But even when they stump you, are ridiculously simple, or when you flip to the back the answer still doesn’t make sense, you can be comforted in the knowledge that there will be something new to solve tomorrow.

More soon.

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