Teaching Math


I step out into the kitchen– my skills in the gentle art of persuasion begin flag – I need a deep breath before starting the other three double digit multiplication sums. I estimate that if it’s taken us one hour to complete six questions, it will probably take another five and a half life times, squared, to finish the last three.

My daughter peeks out at me from a curtain of hair, earbuds firmly in place, so she yells in a friendly manner, “Wouldya like me to finish him off for you?”


“I mean…shall I help him with the last ones?”

“Would you dear?”

I can’t disguise the leaking pleading in my voice to my twelve-year-old.

“Sure. You make supper I’m starving. And I am so sick of salad.”

What a deal.

What a break.

My savior, and dinner’s salvation.

Time to cook.

I beat about the kitchen but I can’t help but earwig as she takes charge, loudly, as her approach differs markedly from my own – it’s amazingly effective as she tells him how it is.

“Stop shoutin 4 x 7 over and over again! You know it already. You know them all already. Y’just need to shut up and listen to your brain.”

They sit on the sofa together; she – relaxed with soft open limbs – he – knotted like a pretzel, eyes squeezed shut, teeth bared, laboring to lay an egg, willing the answers to come. It’s agonizing, and that’s just the watching.

I stop watching and annihilate the potatoes.

I listen as her voice takes on a maniacal tone, “Just imagine that each answer is a tiny little chick and if you get the answer wrong…… the chick DIES!”

I drop the potato masher and dash into the family room, aghast, as my son tumbles off the sofa to writhe on the carpet. I open my mouth to speak and notice that he’s chortling, tears of silent laughter. I look to my daughter – “It’s o.k. Mom – it’s his favorite quote from the Simpsons.”

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0 thoughts on “Teaching Math

  • LOL… That is FANTASTIC! Sounds like what I did with Josh and math, only we used Orcs and Elves from Lord of the Rings. A question like, “You have 36 orcs chasing you, six elves come to your rescue. How many orcs would each elf have to take out to get them all?” or “You have 25 orcs chasing you. Three elves come to your rescue. Each elf takes out five orcs, how many are left?” Etc. Josh could get the answers faster than I could… and he was only five.


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