Doin’ the Math

I recognize that this is a very corny, wholesome yet pushy activity for a parent to do with her kids, but sometimes—especially when the battling in the car gets to be too much for me to take—we do in car math drills. I call out the questions, taking turns for each kid. Wyatt loves this. He’s definitely a math guy, and I take pride in (and am mildly freaked by) his abilities.

But Rory has struggled with this activity, so we’ve done it less of late. This morning, though, I really needed to distract Wy from his incessant singing of the months song, more because it was causing Rory to sob and shriek “I don’ wan HEAR that,” than because I really cared myself, and we still had a long way to go. So I rolled out some problems for him only, and after about five questions, Rory demanded to be included.

So after a one for Wyatt (13+5), I asked Rory, carefully and slowly, “If you had THREE cookies and I gave you ONE MORE cookie, how many would you have?”

“Um, six!” She likes to try to shout at the answer even faster than Wy shouted out his, of course. It actually took her about six months of this to figure out that we weren’t just randomly yelling numbers at each other, but she gets it now. Kind of.

“Well, no.” And I embarked on all of my usual explanations of the question, suggestions that she use her fingers, giving her another chance (“Seven! Two! Fourteen!”), etc. We’ve been doing that, at this same level and with this exact problem, for about a year–simple addition, never adding up to more than five. And we go through this every time. I don’t get it, I think, and I worry, as I always do. This is crazy! Why doesn’t she remember? Plus, if you gave her two actual cookies, and then one more, she’d know exactly how many she had. Hell, if she had seven candies and you took away three, she’d know how many you’d taken the minute she looked in the bag. This is nowhere close to beyond her. Why do I have to explain it like this EVERY TIME?

If you’ve already guessed, brownies to you.

This morning the whole thing felt particularly unfair to Wyatt, who’d also just really solidly mastered any two- or three- numbers plus or minus any single number (103+5—oh, that’s too easy! 108!). I wanted to get him thinking about two number addition problems, like 12+15.)

So the next time I asked and she got it wrong, I just said “nope! keep thinking,” and went on to give Wyatt a problem. She kept hollering out guesses, and I said, no, not your turn. Wy got his, and I came back to her, and the same thing happened. She got it wrong, I moved quickly back to Wyatt, and then came back to her. “What if you have THREE cookies and I give you ONE MORE cookie?”



I would not say Rory turned into a mathematical genius in a single car ride, but she didn’t miss any more easy ones like that, and her guesses on the harder ones–which for her is 6+1, or 3+5, stopped being completely devoid of any thought. This wasn’t about math, or understanding, or anything of the sort. This was about keeping the precious Mommy spotlight on Rory. I’m highly amused. And relieved.

2 Responses to “Doin’ the Math”

  1. Flamingo says:

    lol lol!! yep…totally get it. floored by your son more than rory! wow …those are some good math skills for his age!

    you know i do wonder sometimes with mine if it is about keeping the focus on her…because my son truly doesn’t get things and she does…so then i have to spend more time with him explaining.

    my daughter is going to be so tramatized next year when she goes to school. sharing the day with 20 kids should be interesting.

  2. Paula says:

    Too funny!!! At Jason’s conference this week, I was told he has an engineers mind and that math, science, and ELA come easy to him. The ELA I get but he didn’t get the math or the science from me or DH that’s for sure! When I’m in the car with Jess, her preferred entertainment is giving me a letter and we brainstorm what words start with it.