Mommy’s Words: A love affair with puzzles

Tonight I have the privilege of publishing my wife’s first blog entry.  I don’t even have to pay her any royalties fees, although I bought her dinner tonight!  She’s talked for some time about blogging too and released her first entry yesterday.  I hope it’s the first of many.  Here is her inaugural entry focusing on our son’s sporadic love of puzzles.  Enjoy! 

Our son has been a big fan of puzzles since before he turned two years old.  He started with two simple puzzles that I picked up at Namdaemum Market last March.  One was full of patterns of trucks, cranes, and boats.  The other was number 1 to 10.  He impressed everyone when we were on vacation in China last April with how fast he can put those puzzles together. 


Now, after a slew of puzzles ranging from Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, inding Nemo, Madagascar, three dinosaurs, all the way to a difficult level of 70 pieces (pretty good for a two-year-old), he finally seems to be growing out of the puzzle phase.  This is exemplified by multiple incidents of dumping all the puzzle pieces out of their cases and then declaring, Mommy do it!  All efforts to coax him into putting the puzzles back together again end in vain, and I usually end up being the one to pick up the mess.  This went on for a little while until yesterday, when he accidentally discovered a new puzzle that I hid away in the closet.  He enthusiastically pulled it out and cried happily, New toy! 


And this is not just a typical puzzle.  Its a 100-piece-glow-in-the-dark-Thomas-and-Percy-Moonlight-Ride puzzle.  Wow!  He rushed to the TV room with it and sat down at the same spot where he always does his puzzles and started working at it, despite the fact that it was almost time for his bath.  He did need quite a bit of help from daddy as he has never done a puzzle this big.  When he was done, he ran to me to show off his puzzle work.  Then we turned off all the lights in the house and together admired this puzzle glowing in the dark.  It brought to life a scene when Thomas and Percy rest in their engine shed at the end of the day under the moonlight. Goodnight, Thomas.  Goodnight, Percy, said our son gently before he headed to the bath tub.


Our plan is to frame and hang this puzzle up as a poster in our son’s room when he is done playing with it, so he can see it glowing in the dark when he sleeps.  And this grand 100-piece puzzle may very well be the conclusion of his love affair with puzzles.


Until he is ready to tackle a 500-piece puzzle, that is…

End of entry.


Blog Note:  Editfish, thank you for your detailed insights into the Korean "gae."  Thanks for writing me offline too–I’ll respond soon.  My wife, who was born in China, is not aware of this concept in Chinese society.  It may very well be that "hui" is a traditional Chinese concept that is rarely practiced in China today.  It may also be that she left China at a young age and is unaware of changing trends in Chinese society.  Some say that contemporary Korea embodies traditional Chinese ideals even more than modern China, particularly with regard to Confucian ideals.  It would not surprise if "gae" were imported from China.  In my Western mind, "gae" sounds a bit like a Ponzi scheme, although "gae" investors know full well what they’re getting into, invest with friends and/or family they trust, and invest the money up front rather than sequentially.  Why not just save up money and buy something that can benefit the whole group such as a rental property?  I’ve met dozens of Koreans who travel to the United States using "gae" funds.  The only benefit other members get from the trip is a travel slideshow.

  1. Editfish

    It’s a rather old concept, although it may have been suppressed in the Mainland in recent decades.  In Taiwan, surprisingly, it’s quite common.  They are simply called "會"s.  If your wife was quite young when she left, it’s not surprising that she would not have encountered it.  Most people involved are stable financially.  I think the purpose is not so much geared toward actual investment, but rather an easy way to have access to a large amount of money quickly and easily whenever necessary.  Some people would be involved in several 會’s at once.  The $100 example I used would be laughable in Taiwan; most 會’s are set up for amounts of $500, $1000 or more, so you’ve got to have a fair amount of disposable income.
    To our Western mind, it certainly seems awkward–but then so is the concept of counting "a thousand ten thousands"  That took some getting used to.  😀
    Have a great weekend.  Back to the FSWE Grindstone for me…

  2. Bob

    WA – forgot your home number – are you coming to dinner tonight?  Don’t repay me in kind for my rudeness of last week…I need to get out the whip and have the mother in law start cooking if you’re coming…please come…please….I am lonely….

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