Posted by: Nick Ward | 11 May, 2010

Patience: It’s a Gen X thing.

You’ve got to love it when your mum’s birthday happens to fall on Mothers Day.

Now, let me clarify. It’s not about being stingy on presents or anything. It’s that a heavily publicised commercial mega-event, Mothers Day, has any questionable angle removed from it. This day is absolutely about my mum, not about platitudes or page impressions. And, as it turns out, I can present flowers alongside my birthday present on a day when the selection available is second to none. I love it.

So yesterday was my mum’s birthday. And Mothers Day. And it was lovely. My brother whipped up an awesome hot breakfast perfected after eating way too many hot breakfasts in hotels on work trips. The nieces were delightful, and the conversation was, as always, lively. And I made an interesting observation.

A christmas gift to my eldest niece was a jigsaw puzzle of a globe of the world. Yep, 3D. Very clever how it holds together, actually it really is a pretty neat little creation. But something else was different about this jigsaw puzzle too.

It had numbers on the back of the pieces.

Yup, consecutive numbers.

So you can put it together without, well, without solving the puzzle.

Now, I have fond memories of sitting for hours (or was it days?) on the floor as a kid doing jigsaw puzzles with my mum. Putting aside the blue sky until last, looking for tell-tale pieces with letters from a street sign or the latch of a barn door and working outwards from there. It was painstaking, but like any good challenge, you just had to keep going, every extra piece that found it’s place spurring you on.

Now, do you think it took some encouraging, well, more like bribery, to convince my clever and creative niece that she should keep the picture side facing up, the numbers facing down, and put this globe together the jigsaw puzzle way? Jeepers, get with the program Uncle Nick! Just use the numbers!

Well, I thought I’d won an important victory when I’d succeeded in getting the family fully engaged with solving the puzzle the right way. Excited exclamations as various South American countries were located and the continent took shape. True satisfaction as the International Date Line joined pole to pole. But I was deluded.

No sooner had the landmasses been completed (what’s that, 30% or something) than defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory.

“There’s no way we’re going to do the oceans Uncle Nick!”

No suggestion that this was much easier than it sounded (because unlike the real thing, in this case the oceans were tattooed with their names and sprinkled with the names of islands and the like) was going to have any traction. I’d lost. Lost to the impatience of Gen Y.

And so this globe, by now looking like a partially constructed Death Star, was left as a construction project no more challenging than something out of an Ikea catelogue.

Which brings me to my observation: Patience is a Gen X thing. Possibly also a Baby Boomer thing, not sure. But it’s not a Gen Y thing, definitely not a Gen Y thing. Nup, no way. Completely skipped a generation I reckon.

Be interesting to see what their kids are like.

I’m going to sit down with my first born great niece or nephew and tackle a jigaw puzzle.

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