Parents don't (usually) get to pick their kid's passions.
Parents don't (usually) get to pick their kid's passions.

My son's passion for the Rubik's Cube and why most of us have never solved it

Like you, perhaps, I had a Rubik’s Cube when I was a kid. I got it for Christmas when I was in third or fourth grade, and for years I occasionally picked it up and tried to solve it.

Also like you, perhaps, I tried to solve it by completing one side at a time. I even got two sides completed, but I never got better than that, and I certainly never solved the thing.

Last year, my 12-year-old son, Levi, received a Rubik’s Cube and it was love at first twist. Within a couple of weeks, he solved it.

When I told him of my long-term cube ineptness, he enlightened me by saying I had approached it completely wrong – that it needed to be solved one layer at a time as in top, middle and bottom – not one side at a time. He also informed me that to solve the cube he had written out and memorized more than 50 algorithms.

It was then I came to terms with the fact I would never solve Rubik’s Cube.

My son "cubes" every day, for very long periods of time, and has done so for months. He is going to a competition this weekend in Dixon, Ill., and the nationals in Portland, Ore., this summer.

It doesn't matter how much I scramble the cube, Levi usually solves it in under 15 seconds, but has solved it just under 10 seconds a couple of times. That is his goal: to be "sub 10 (seconds)" with every attempt. 

The world’s record for the fastest cube solve is held by a 14-year-old named Lucas Etter, who finished in less than 5 seconds. I know it’s my job as a mom to believe in my kid, but I really think Levi might break Lucas’ record someday, mostly because I have never before seen Levi put such focus and fuel behind something.

I know he is awake every morning because I can hear the cube twisting in his room. I also know when he’s fallen asleep for the evening because the twisting stops.

Truth be told, I was hoping that my son would love learning an instrument or be a voracious reader – basically to be passionate about the things that I am passionate about. But this is not how it works. Often, parents don't get pick kids' passions. Even though I signed him up for many lessons over the years, from piano to soccer – and although he dutifully attended – he never completely attached.

When I see Levi with the cube, he's in a zone, that sweet spot void of time or space, and he is completely in the moment. He is happy.

I am really grateful that my son found something to master and to love, even if it wasn’t what I wanted for him. Someday he will most likely set down the cube and move onto one of life's many other puzzles, but he will hopefully approach it with the same dedication, the same zeal.

Watch Levi solve the cube in under 15 seconds:

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