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Sunday, March 30, 2014

It All Adds Up...

I have a limited appreciation for math.  Of course,  I know it's a very important subject.  An adeptness at math is required to carry out many of our daily activities. Being able to figure percentages can come in handy when faced with sale prices and nutrition labels.  Road signs feature fractions that tell us the distance to our destination.  Recipes indicate how much of certain ingredients to include in various dishes.  Calculating monthly bills requires specific arithmetic skill.

I keep no secrets with regard to my statistical shortcomings.  I loathe math! Despite my inability to divide by anything higher than five, Desmond and Bro seem to be learning what's necessary in order for them to do well in school, secure decent jobs someday and make the world a better place.  We have one simple rule in this house concerning the homework.  David checks numbers, and I review the words.  I've always favored sentences and stories, anyway.  When situations involve math, I prefer to examine the motives.

Let's say Jack buys six new albums at the record store.  Susie borrows four of them, two of which she lends to Chad, a guy she knows from her job at Smashburger. Chad is creepy but he deals decent weed, and Susie hopes he can get her an ounce because she and her two best girlfriends are headed down the shore for Memorial Day weekend.  Chad is an unreliable resource.  Actually, he's an asshole.  He gets pulled over that night and DWI'd, his vehicle confiscated with Jack's music in the glove compartment.  Poor Jack hasn't even listened to Automatic For The People yet.  A month passes and every time Susie sees Jack, she crosses the street to avoid him.  Now, here's where the math comes in.  How many times is Susie going to treat Jack like shit before he finally realizes that she's just a bitch and has been since the second grade?

This neighborhood alone presents a myriad of challenges for the numerically impaired.  I get by, but just barely.  Five boxes of girl scout cookies cost twenty dollars, so that's a nice clean transaction.  I could easily polish off two dozen Samoas without flinching.  I can make correct change if we come across a lemonade stand.  The children have to be very young though, with only the vaguest conceptual grasp of money, in case I get flustered.  It could happen.  Pizzas are round, and they're generally cut into triangles.  This means I can invite six kids over for lunch, but Dave and I have to eat something else.

I clip my children's fingernails on Saturday evenings after they shower, ever since they were babies.  As toddlers, I'd sit them down with a basket full of plastic wind-up toys.  Cars, robots, fish, a donkey with collapsible legs, chattering teeth and an assortment of mice and frogs.  Both boys were so fascinated by these tiny contraptions.  On alternating weeks, I'd manage to get the toenails addressed as well - with very little fuss.
As my sons have gotten older and larger, we sit together on the edge of the bathtub.  They swing their big legs over mine, positioning their hooves above a wastebasket to catch the shrapnel.  It has become a purely administrative exchange.  Every now and again, Rory gives me a hard time.  He claims that I manhandle his digits.  He is full of baloney.  I am as gentle as I can be, a pedicurial foot soldier on the front lines in every sense of the word.  War is hell.
"Really, Mom.  I can do this myself," he suggests as he takes the little scissor and cuts vertically along the top of his nail, creating an impressive jagged effect.
"Nice fringe, Bro.  Can we just get this over with?"
"Fine, but don't be so rough," he begs.
"C'mon, already.  Man up."

"How many times a year do you think you clip my toenails?" he asked me last week as he hung over my shoulder, checking my progress.
"I'm not sure, Brother.  Let's figure it out.  There's 365 days in a year.  Divide that by 52 weeks and you get 7.  Add your current age, which is 9 and you have 16. Count the number of toes on each foot, multiply that by 2 and there's your answer.  I clip your toenails 26 times a year."
"It feels like more," he said.
"Don't I know it," I replied.

"Mom, you've gotta admit.  Dad's the smartest member of our family," Rory professes without hesitation.
I take no offense to this blanket statement.  David is a very bright guy, and I'm glad Rory recognizes his father's worth.  He is, after all, in charge of the math.  I don't know what I'd do without him.  Perhaps it is the fact that my husband has never clipped a child's toenails that has helped him retain his edge.
"You're right, Bro.  I admit it.  Dad is awesome."  I finish up with that last resistant pinky toe and send him on his way.
"Go find your brother.  It's his turn."

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