Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Middle of Parenthood

My daughter Mia turned nine years old a few days ago.

My wife jokingly said "we only have another nine years to go!" I smiled. In another nine years, Mia will turn 18, technically an adult. Do I really have that little time left with my daughter as a "child"?

Sometimes I find myself staring at her. How did that little baby we had nine years ago become this big girl? I look long and hard at her face, picking out my features, my wife's features. I watch her while she reads or plays video games or sits at the computer, and I think I can see her adult demeanor. I hear Mia talking and I think I can hear her all grown up. I hold her hand, and I imagine it the size of mine.

Mia has an interest in the adult world. We drive by the middle school and high school. When we go into town, we point out where Jenn went to college. She's been to my office. There's a very interesting future waiting for her, and she seems up for it.

Maybe this is the middle of parenthood. A fond remembrance of the baby she was, but an eagerness for the adult she will become. Nine more years. It almost seems too short.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Discovering Sudoku

I first noticed Sudoku puzzles a few years ago. My father had started doing them. When he would visit, he'd find the unfinished Sudoku puzzle in my newspaper, and work on it. One time I remember him bringing a book or magazine full of Sudoku puzzles, and he would diligently work on them. He looked content solving them.

Somehow I stayed away. I didn't "get" how to solve Sudoku. Or maybe it was the Dad factor, as in "my Dad does old-school Sudoku, but I prefer new-school Wii."

Earlier this year, I bought one of those PennyPress puzzle magazines. My daughter had wanted to do some Word Seek puzzles. She asked me about some of the harder puzzles in the magazine, and I went to the PennyPress' website for some help. While meandering the site, I eventually found "How to Solve Sudoku" (PDF).

I was somewhat surprised that there was a logic to figuring out Sudoku. All this time watching my Dad, I thought it was largely guess work. I was wrong! I skimmed the document, fascinated that there were names for the "deductions" used to solve Sudoku (things like "X-Wing", "Locked Candidate", and "Naked Pair"). The descriptions for how to solve the puzzles plus the charts got me excited, and I downloaded a Sudoku game for my iPod.

The first puzzle took me almost an hour to do, but after finishing, I knew I had found a new habit. It's a satisfying feeling solving a Sudoku puzzle. I "get it" now. My brain feels like it's been exercised. I sent an e-mail to my Dad, telling him about my recent discovery with Sudoku, and he was glad.

Of late, I've taken to solving my newspaper's Sudoku puzzle. Solving these on paper is a delight, but they do get progressively harder, the most difficult being on Friday. I'll have to remember to save that one for my Dad next time he visits.