# Modern Math

Math session with a 1st grader…

Me: “Ok, so we’re going to do some fun math problems today, all involving ducks! Because I know how much you love birds. The questions are going to start off super easy, but they build off each other and become more challenging as we go.”

Kid: “Ok.”

Me: “So first question– there are three ducks. Each duck is 1 foot in length. If the three ducks go swimming together in a line, beak to tail, how long is the duck-line?”

Kid: “Wait, so each duck is ONE foot long?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “And there are THREE of them?”

Me: “Yes.”

Kid: “Ok let me think.” (starts whisper counting to himself, goes way past 3)

Me: “Woah woah, you’re already counting too high. There are only THREE ducks.”

Kid: “I know I know…” (keeps counting, now silently, but keeping track on fingers)

Me: “This is supposed to the super-easy first problem, it doesn’t really require finger counting.”

Kid: “I’ve almost got it, hold on.”

Kid: “Shh shhh wait let me finish.”

Me:

Kid (finally): “15! The answer is 15 feet.” (crosses arms, super proud of self)

Me: “What? No. Not even close. There are only 3 ducks and they are each ONE foot!”

Kid: “Yeah but you gotta have 6 feet between each duck or they’ll all get corona.”

# Thanks To You

Kid: “I used to not really like math that much, but that has changed, all thanks to you.”

Me: “Aw, I love that! You know, comments like that remind me why I do what I—”

Kid: “Now I hate it.”

# Infinity

Kid: “What’s the highest number?”

Me: “There is no highest number. Numbers keep going and going and going…they are infinite.”

Kid: “What’s infinite?”

Me: “Having no end. Numbers go to infinity…”

Kid: “Then that’s the end. Infinity.”

Me: “Well, no– the very definition of infinity is ‘no end.'”

Kid: “So infinity is NOT the highest number?”

Me: “Infinity isn’t actually even a number, it’s a concept.”

Kid: “What’s a concept?”

Me: “Like, an idea…”

Kid: “So infinity is the highest idea?”

Me: “Well, no, there’s no ‘highest idea.’ That’s not a thing.”

Kid: “I don’t get it. What’s infinity then?”

Me: “It’s hard to explain.”

Kid: (silence)

Me: (prays conversation is over)

Kid: “So like, is there an infinity and one?”

# Remind Me to Thank Your Dad

Finishing a math lesson with a 5 year old….

Me: “Any questions?”

Kid: “Yeah. When that baby comes out of your vagina, is it going to hurt?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Kid: “Babies come out of vaginas, you know. My dad told me when I asked him how your baby was going to get out of you. He said it would come out of your vagina.”

Me: “Well, remind me to thank your dad. But what I meant was, do you have any MATH questions.”

Kid: “Ummmm…let me think.”

Me: “We just did a whole lesson about how to tell time and read a calendar. Do you have questions about THAT?”

(long pause)

Kid: “Oh! Yes. How many days on the calendar…”

Me: “Ok, that’s better…”

Kid: “…until that baby comes out of your vagina?”

# Well Played

I had a kid fill out a math assessment for homework. There was some new content in it, so I told her if she really didn’t know how to answer a question, just write “no idea” underneath, and I’d help her in the next session.

So in the next session, I taught her the strategy she needed to use to answer the “no idea” question. Once she had a firm grip on the strategy, I said, with optimistic enthusiasm, “Ok, so let’s go back to that question where you wrote ‘no idea’ and see if we can change that answer!”

So she changed it.

(but then….)

Because come on that’s fucking hilarious.

# Job Hazards

Our entire apartment is just filled with post-its of me trying to figure out 4th grade math.

# The Future

About to play a math game…

Kid: “Can we use the dice app on your phone again?”
Me: “No, we only did that last time because I forgot the dice. But now I have them, so we can roll them ourselves.”
Kid (sigh): “But it’s so much easier to just touch your phone screen.”
Me: “But it’s so much nicer and more interesting to be a human who does old-timey human things, like hold real dice in your hand, and then extend your arm ever so slightly to roll them on the real, live floor. Plus they make a sound and everything!”
Kid: ( . crosses arms. pouts.)

We’re so fucked.

# TGIF

I’m not gonna lie, I almost miss this.

# Afraid

Teaching kid a new math skill…

Kid: “Can you show me one more time? I’m not ready to try.”
Me: “I showed you several times– at this point you will learn best by doing it yourself. Just give it a try!”
Kid: “But sometimes I get afraid to try.”
Me: “There is nothing to be afraid of. Trying is how you learn, and if it doesn’t go the way you want it to, that just gives you good information for how to try again. Learning and success is a process, kiddo!”
Kid: “So you mean if I get it wrong, just learn from it?”
Me: “Yes! You got it!”
Kid: “When you say it like that, it doesn’t sound so scary.”
Me: “Exactly. It really is THAT easy. Just try! I promise you, you have nothing to lose!”

(2 hours later)

Therapist: “So have you taken any steps to pursue a writing career?”
Me: “No. I’m too afraid to try.”

# Nothing.

Client, Age 3 (Yes. Three.), during a “greater than/less than” math lesson….

Kid: “You’re 35?!?! My mom is 31, and that is LESS THAN 35!”

Me: “Right!”

Kid: “But she has THREE kids and you have ZERO kids and zero is LESS THAN three! Zero is NOTHING!”

Me: “Well…”

Kid: “You have NOTHING!”