Thursday, May 26, 2011

ABC 123

I keep jumping from thought to thought tonight but I am going to go with it.

I wanted this post to be about my math skills...or lack of math skills. But when I wrote ABC 123 to title it all I could think about was the Michael Jackson song. I even sang it and googled the lyrics. I wondered if other people also thought of Michael when they read the title or if my thinking is just 'special'. I really am curious. Did anyone else think of Michael Jackson when they saw that title?

Next thought.

I used that title because my inability to do math had to do with learning styles, which took me to school. I pictured ABC 123 written in chalk on a black board. I saw it as a border around a grade school classroom, with a ruler, a pencil and an apple thrown in. Sometimes the apple had a happy little worm in it wearing glasses. Now I am thinking this is confusing for young children. Later in our education we learn worms don't even have eyes. It would be more realistic if the worm were reading braille. No wonder students question everything a teacher tells them once they get to high school.

Next thought.

Back to the present, I then moved on to how to begin this post...Readin', 'Ritin', 'Rithmetic came to mind. This too is found in grade school classrooms. What the teacher SAYS is three R's all in a row are aesthetically pleasing. What I hear is it is okay to get artsy with your spelling if it looks good. But when I spell writing on my test as 'riting' it gets marked rong. I am rought with distress already and I am only in third grade.

Next thought.

When I spelled 'rithmetic above, my thoughts went to my fourth grade math teacher. She told us that a good way to always remember how to spell arithmetic was to use the first letter of each word in the sentence A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream. Weird that I would remember that isn't it? To this day, I cannot see arithmetic without saying a rat in the house may eat the ice cream. I told her I thought rats were lactose intolerant. She says they don't really eat ice cream. I am thinking she should stick to math and leave the spelling to the English teacher.

Also in fourth grade we could not go outside for recess if the weather was inclement. On the bad weather days we were forced to play indoors. We often played peg leg tag.

In peg leg tag you have to pretend one of your legs can't bend. You had to limp around with a stiff leg...a peg leg. This prevented anyone from running too fast inside but allowed us to feel like we were on the edge of breaking the rules by still playing tag indoors.

I was it. I was chasing someone and tried to cut them off by squeezing through a tight little spot between the desk and a wire bookcase. The wire bookcase had two little prongs sticking out (totally would not be allowed in a classroom today but back in my day there was danger all around.) As I squeezed through, I raked my leg against the metal prong. It bled. A lot. I had to go to the nurse and when I came back from the nurses office all bandaged up I really was a peg leg. Isn't that ironic? I still have the scar.

I told you my thoughts were all over the place tonight.

Next thought.

My favorite math teacher was Mr. Kincaid. All the kids thought he was a robot. He had very few facial expressions and because he taught math he was very methodical. He never smiled. The kids logic was that robots don't have personalities, therefore he is definitely a robot.

They often joked that if someone stabbed him in the back with scissors green goo and sparks would fly out because he wasn't human. (Do you think the violent thoughts started with being tricked into thinking that worms had eyes? Me too.)

No one liked Mr. Kincaid. I adored him.I had a hard time with algebra. He worked out every single algebra problem on the board to help me understand. Because of his patience I got A's on my math tests that year. This had never happened before Mr. Kincaid and never happened after.

Next thought.

Which brings me to my original subject. I am not good with numbers. Bob, on the other hand, is. If I need some quick adding or subtracting done I just ask him and he answers. It is much quicker to ask him to do the math than to pull out my phone and use the calculator.

I made the mistake of telling Bob that doing math in your head is a good way to aid in the prevention of dementia. When I ask him a math question now, he walks me through it, like Mr. Kincaid. Because of his good motives (keeping my brain healthy) I humor him.

We were in Walgreen's the other day and Bob purchased two bottles of Niacin. Being the frugal shopper he is he was calculating the cost per day to make sure he was getting the best deal. There were 120 pills in each bottle, he takes two a day. How many months would the two bottles last him? I blurted out some number, not thinking but hoping it would be a lucky guess. He looks at me with disdain because he knows darn well I was guessing.

So now he has to 'learn' me the math. And he of course has to talk slowly so I can keep up. I am in no mood for math, I have M & M's to open, the sooner we get out of here the sooner chocolate can melt in my mouth and not in my hand. Before he can finish his 'lesson' I interrupt "Bob, 120 divided by 6 means the niacin would last you four months." He finishes his mental math and says "Wow! You did it!"I like that he is happy for my math skills but something about his tone made me think he was shocked that I could figure this out. Should I be offended?

Now with the math problem solved we continue our merry way to the check out when he stops and says "How did you divide 120 by six and come up with four?"

I quickly answer "Because of the 240." And I look at him with disdain because it was so obvious. But in my head I am panicked. He's not letting this go and I am madly trying to figure in my head how did I get four??? Now he is going to press the issue and in all honesty, I really don't know how I got the four. All happy thoughts of chocolate eating are dissipating.

He is now dissecting my logic. He is saying 120 divided by three might give me four somehow, but not six. Why did I divide anything by six?

Finally I've had enough learnin'. I stop and say "I got the right answer, does the method really matter? Why are you making me continue to think about this, the answer is four, I got it right, I passed the test, I don't have to have logic."

He says, "You have no idea how you got to four do you?"

We are so close to the register. I cannot figure out how I got four. I need to get out of this. I am so irritated by this line of questioning that chocolate is losing its appeal. So I am trying to think of a way to change the subject.

"Why do they show worms wearing glasses? Worms don't have eyes. And why would you call a really smart person a book worm? Worms don't even have brains."

Bob is easily distracted, I can see my plan is working. I throw in one last comment. "You are like a little book worm with your math skills. You are so smart. I am lucky to have a mini calculator with me all the time." I top that off with a hug.

Bait and switch. Change the subject, add a little flattery, show some love with a hug and you are in the car sharing M&M's. Math class is over.

And isn't ironic that I was used a "worm" in a "bait" and switch sting?

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