| Posted in:Family, Writing

It’s not uncommon for parents to sometimes look at their children and wonder “Who the hell are you and when does your spaceship return?” I have those moments often and it’s usually when my kids bring home reports cards or receive glowing verbal reports of their “attentive and respectful” behaviour. While I think it’s great that my kids are well-behaved, I can’t take full credit for it because I know parents far better than me who work hard at parenting and have still have kids who have the ability to kill sperm with a single shriek at 100 paces. It’s a crapshoot folks; sometimes you win at the lottery and sometimes you don’t. But there’s balance in the universe because while my kids get excellent grades without stress, they also do things like take all of the garbage bags for flags to decorate a makeshift backyard jousting arena and also eat ALL the Oreo pudding cups even though I emphatically expressed how these cold creamy treasures are the only things which bring me joy three days every month. So yes; parenting is a “win some, lose some, lose some more, call-it-a-draw, lose again” proposition.

The biggest and most obvious difference between my children and myself comes in the math department. I can’t count past 12 without a pen and paper and in grade three I risked schoolyard taunting by faking diarrhea in order to spend half an hour in the bathroom rather than submit to “Speed Round” multiplication drills. I may not know my times-tables, but I did perfect “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” thanks to the awesome acoustics of the first floor primary bathroom.

Math is not something I “get” because I don’t think logically. I think emotionally. Why is eight plus eight sixteen? What does it mean? How does it make you FEEL? I don’t like things that are concrete and have definitive value; I’d rather analyse an entire novel than figure out the tip on a bill ending in .57. My kids think I’m nuts, and they have many supporters. They are logical thinkers, these two, and both excel at math and science, and even when they don’t know the answer, they turn it around so that that’s your problem, not theirs, because it was probably a dumb question anyway.

Case in point – a grade four math test returned home with a mark of 22 out of a possible 23. Only one mark was missed, but I would have given it to him for sheer balls:

 Ask a silly question...I’ve posted in a few other places this month as well. I’m at MamaPop.com talking about some nice guys and some jerks and all sorts of other terrible people. and today I have a post up at iVillage.ca about how Halloween was kinda sorta better when we ran feral in packs of masked children.

  • http://theginabean2.blogspot.com theginabean

    Mathematical and scientific thinkers are baffling unto me. Math is straight up from the devil himself.

    • http://highlyirritable.wordpress.com Jeni


  • http://006point7ekgo.wordpress.com/ ekgo

    I think I would have answered that question the same way because…I don’t understand the question. I mean, of course Craig could have read four more books than Kirsten and, in fact, did. He read five. That’s four more plus one. So why was that question even asked in the first place?
    I totally get his answer; it is quite sensible..

    Also, this could be my first comment on your blog and if you’re wondering why I just randomly popped up and am being all chummy, I’ve been stalking said blog for awhile because my friend, Linda, told me to and I did and I love it because it’s often hilarious and sometimes even quite thought-provoking and so now I think of us as neighbors, or something, when in fact I may have never even spoken to you before. So, if this IS my first comment, I should probably introduce myself: Hi, I’m Erica and I stalk your blog.

    • http://highlyirritable.wordpress.com Jeni

      Hello Erica! Glad to have you here. Don’t be a stranger. :)

      • http://006point7ekgo.wordpress.com/ ekgo

        Oh…as they say, “They don’t get much stranger than me” but…thank you and I’ll be sure to comment again!

  • http://memyselfandkids.com memyselfandkids.com

    Glad that your kids are doing well. I know what you mean about it being crapshoot. You can be a certain way but it doesn’t mean your kids will follow or adopt that trait.
    Btw, I like your child’s logic.
    My wife and I are very neat. My older son – not so much. If you have a chance, check out this post http://larrydbernstein.com/im-raising-messy-marvin/

  • http://snoozingonthesofa.com/ snoozing on the sofa

    That’s just a stupid question. I don’t know how else you would answer it.

  • http://javaline.wordpress.com Javamom

    I run, not walk, far away from questions like that. And I don’t get it, either. lol.

  • Della

    What is the correct answer? And why is it important? I never did “get” math problems.

  • Jennny

    I’ve been looking at that question for ten minutes and I still don’t understand what it’s asking. I even sent it to my very mathematically inclined husband and he didn’t see a problem with your kid’s response either. What IS the answer? This is gonna drive me nuts now.

  • http://gravatar.com/jillygif JillyG

    How about “Sure, he COULD have, but he didn’t, from what I’m being told. I mean, she COULD have lied and read none of them, which would mean he read them all….” GRRRRR these nonsense questions make me NUTS! Did you ever find out what answer the teacher was looking for? And how do you EXPLAIN something that makes no sense to begin with?

  • http://tracysite.wordpress.com desertrose7

    Mine eat all my favourite things too. :( I keep having to find better hiding places. I totally understand your relationship with maths. In fact anything “logical” makes my brain hurt.

  • http://just-mum.blogspot.ca/ Jessica @ Just a Mum?

    Some of the math questions that my daughter comes home with are so badly worded that I’m almost positive they’re bad translations of some foreign language. :P

  • Michael

    Enjoyed the post. Thank you! I’ve never been a big fan of math; I do remember in grade school learning a quick cheat to the nine times tables through a magazine i subscribed to as a child called DYNOMITE. I remember nothing else about this publication other that those darn 9 times tables. It showed you how you could quickly and easily do them on your 10 fingers. I even once got in trouble for using them during school which never made sense to me. I argued that it was just as good/bad as memorizing them, so what’s the difference?
    Nevertheless…this was a fun read. The whole “could” question doesn’t seem mathematical at all in nature, which falls to many other issues…lol!

  • http://bubblegirlphotography.ca Lisa

    I think if he had answered with ‘than’ instead of ‘then’, he might have got a perfect mark :) I hate these kind of questions…

  • http://waslivingdownunder.blogspot.ca/ Was Living Down Under

    Glad I’m not the only one who thought that question was stupid. My little girl is in Grade 2 French Immersion. I don’t understand why they have word problems in Math – it just tends to confuse things because the questions aren’t clear, and it’s not just coz they’re in French. I read the above problem 3 times and I still can’t figure out what the teacher was looking for?

  • Alycia Sanders

    Recent finder of your Blog, first time commenter. LOVE what I’ve read so far.

    Anywho, just chiming in to clarify the problem for everyone (applied mathematics major here)

    The question is asking if Craig could have read 4 more books than Kirsten. The answer is no. The explanation is that there isn’t a sum of two numbers that equals 85 such that one of them is 4 more than the other, mathematically:

    x + (x-4) = 85 is a false statement.

    x + (x-5) = 85 is a true statement with x = 45

    Hope that helps. Again, kudos to you and take care. =)

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