Math and Me: A Love Story without the Love

When I was in 1st grade and saw a minus sign for the first time, I immediately changed it to a plus sign, because, REALLY, I already knew math.  Some kid in my class "told" on me, and I blushed so hard when I realized this was "new" (ie: other than addition) math, that the shameful feelings continued on through the rest of school. 

 My "It's time for math" face.

 Math and I were never close from that day forward.  I think maybe I blamed math on making me feel stupid... which it continued to do over the years simply because I could never see the point to it.

My father-in-law (math teacher) and husband (physics major) would say you learn it so you can do even MORE math.  Or Physics!  Whoopee!

Fast forward 20 years... I picked up an algebra book at our local library book sale.  Why?  I don't know, other than I was looking for a challenge, and dog-gone if I didn't work myself through the whole book.  I made sense now... maybe it needed 20 years to percolate, maybe the shame I had felt about it was gone, and being relaxed about it, and not being graded for it... maybe all those things led to the perfect storm for me.

Fast forward another 3 years, and I find myself teaching math to my children.  (And reading, but that's a different story.) For some reason, Perimeter and Area are the bane of my children's existence.  If someone can teach it to them in a way they can remember it for more than 3 seconds, I won't even be jealous.  Even Grandpa tried to teach them.  He walked away thinking he'd got it in their heads... not so, not so.  I've had them on their hands and knees measuring carpets, up on the table measuring the table top, and measuring the windows for curtains.  I've drawn examples on graph paper about 50,000,000 times. (See how comfortable I am with math now?)

The impetus for this post was the argument I had TWICE today with Habtamu about Area. I admit that I get hot under the collar when I am unable to explain something that is so clear to me to someone who SEEMS to be not understanding ON PURPOSE.  Yeah, I know it's not on purpose, but A=b x h is really about as straight forward as you can get.  A kinder, gentler math, if you will.  Habtamu's math teacher told me today that soon they will be dealing with 3 dimensions instead of 2. Oy.

All that is to say is that 'Ignorance IS Bliss' because if I were still ignorant of the ways of math, I could shrug and say "Huh.  I dunno.  Ask your father."   Just like I do with Science...


(Liberal) Arts Education

So the other day, I'm in the car with Yordanos and "Don't bring me down" by ELO comes on the radio. After a lengthy discussion about how a "snake in the grass" is an idiom and not to be taken literally, the song ends and the DJ says, "That song came out in 1979!"
So of course I mumble something about how I was 7 years old at the time. Yo looks at me and says, "It's hard to believe you were ever a kid," to which I respond, "Yeah, sometimes I can hardly remember it myself."

Half a mile later I look over at her and say, "You do know that I did used to be a kid. You've seen pictures, right?" She looks back and says, "Yes dad. You looked like the party rockin' guy."

Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with the Party Rockin Anthem by LMFAO, being compared to that is kind of a compliment wrapped in an insult and then smothered in another compliment. It's flattering because who wouldn't want to be the Party Rockin' Guy, right? If you haven't seen the video, it's amusing. Youtube it. Only seen through the blissfully naive eyes of an adoring daughter could I ever be construed as the Party Rockin' Guy, especially back in the 80's. Of those three words, 'guy' is probably the only one that might have been used to describe me. And since I was in middle school, even that is iffy.

So the bad news is that the party rockin' guy looks like this:Aaaand the good news is that this look is somehow cool again. So it is sort of a twisted compliment.
For the record, this is me in '85

And this is Katy Perry NOW trying to be as awesome as I was 25 years ago.

Here's a pro tip from someone who was there, Katy... kids with braces didn't smile openly in pictures. Ever. See my picture above. That's me with braces, I think. We went years without showing our teeth. Headgear or otherwise, you kept your lips clamped shut. And if your lenses weren't thick enough to warp the size of your face by about a factor of 6, then clearly your vision is fine and you would have squinted through high school with the rest of the jocks.

So after doing the mental loop-the-loop about my daughter's not-so-backhanded compliment, I looked over and said, "You know... looking like that wasn't 'cool' back then."

"Really? Huh." she replied genuinely.

Being cool before its cool isn't nearly as cool as I thought it would be.