A couple of years ago, Zeca got a Rubik's cube for her birthday and sat in her bedroom each night turning the sides back and forth, never going too far for fear that she would mess it up. But one day, she turned the cube a few too many times, forgot how to retrace her steps and couldn't return it to its perfect state. She cried herself to sleep that night and try as I might, I couldn't solve it for her. I never expected the Rubik's cube to teach me parenting lessons.
Recently, I walked into Zeca's room and found her lying in bed twisting her Rubik's cube again. It was all mixed up and I panicked because we'd been there before and it had ended in frustration for both of us.
With a falsely cheerful voice that belied my sense of dread, I said, "Oh! I see you're playing with your Rubik's cube!" She looked up and said with an unexpectedly casual tone, "Yeah, I'm going to figure out how to solve it." Awesome! Fantastic! Good luck!
I left her with those encouraging words but I admit that I didn't think she would solve it. It wasn't that I didn't have faith in her. It was that I knew it would take a lot of time and effort and most people, myself included, give up before learning and executing all the algorithms necessary to solve it.
In the days that followed, she spent hours watching YouTube tutorials and twisting her cube and then, one evening, she came downstairs and dropped the solved cube in my lap. "I did it," she said with a huge smile on her face. I gave her a big hug and then said, "Can you do it again?"
Of course, she could. So, we sat on the couch and she solved it again and again.
After that night, she began working on speed, paring the time down to under a minute. Then, when we went to the cabin with our friends, she held center stage as she taught the older kids to do it.
Since then, she has bought and solved the Pyraminx and is waiting for a 2x2, a 4x4 and a mirror cube to arrive. She is fluent in the language of all these puzzles and I marvel at how far she has come in such a short amount of time. More than anything, I am in awe - not because she can solve them, but because of the persistence she has shown in doing so..
The Rubik's cube keeps giving. It once reminded me that I can't solve everything and now it has taught me the power and beauty of persistence.
All that and I still can't solve it.