In My Dreams

I have a few weeks between semesters, so I have been power washing the house, cleaning windows, waterproofing the deck, scrubbing tile, and so on and so forth. About 2:00 yesterday afternoon, I collapsed on the sofa for a nap before tackling my laundry room.

Now and then, I roused for a moment or two as Elder paced through the house, a video playing on his cell phone, as usual. But at one point I blinked awake and realized he was listening to a math lecture.

He is on summer break.

And he was watching math.

Unless I was dreaming.

Except it was math.

So, you know, that would have been a scary, scary nightmare.


Earlier this week, we had to take Thirteen and Seven to the veterinarian, and all the men in my house made sure the two knew exactly who they should blame for the upcoming invasion of their manhood.

“Whatever happens tomorrow,” my husband murmured to them as he scratched their ears, “blame Mom.”

“I told her not to,” Younger sympathized with them, as he stroked their backs. “I’m sorry. She wouldn’t listen.”

So the two cats had to spend the night trapped in the bedroom with my husband and me and without food and water. So to keep them from sprinting for water as soon as they escaped the bedroom, I had Younger position himself outside the door.

“You ready,” I asked, bending to scoop Seven into my arms.

“Yep,” Younger said from his side of the door.

I wrapped my fingers around the door handle. “You sure?”

“Yep,” Younger repeated, brimming with confidence.

I opened the door, immediately having to wrap both arms around Seven who was wriggling frantically in my hold. But I still caught sight of the black streak hitting the stairs at about thirty miles an hour. And Younger, reacting a few seconds too late, straightening to his feet to hit the stairs at about two miles an hour.

“You had one job, Younger,” I told him as we urged the reluctant cats into the carriers. “One job.”

“Mom,” he told me, shaking his head. “I was crouched down, ready for a grounder. That cat bounced at the wrong time.”

And my morning was not yet over because I still had to answer the office manager’s simple question of “And what are the names of your fur kids?”

“Well, one is Seven.”

Her pen paused as she peered upward at me.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “Like the number.”

She filled in the name and moved to the second round of paperwork. “And the other one?”

“Uhmm, Thirteen.” And with her second look, I added, defensively, “I have math kids.”

We look like a normal family.

I think.




Math Problems

“Hey, Younger,” I chirped, when he joined my husband and me in the kitchen as I finished cleaning after dinner. “Have you seen the video with the squirrel outwitted by a slinky? You should google it.”

So, he did.

But instead of us all having a good laugh at the expense of the poor squirrel . . .

Younger claimed that the spring could pull the squirrel up with the stored energy in the spring after the squirrel stretched it. But my husband said he was wrong because the squirrel  was the force that was extending the spring.

Then they used letters in a way that seems blasphemous to me.

Something about force is “F = -kx” and where “F” is the force, “k” is the spring coefficient and “x” is the distance of the spring stretched.

The spring, therefore, could not launch the squirrel. Not enough force.

With a huff, I stole my phone back from Younger in the middle of their argument, announcing in a cross tone, “It was just a cute video until you all started with the math.”

Then I disappeared into my room for the night.

So if “x” is the distance my patience is stretched and “k” is my temperament coefficient, will I have enough “F” to launch Younger and my husband?

Because one of these days . . .



Fractions and Other Technicalities

The other day, upon reaching the top stair, I realized that my husband, who had been climbing the stairs behind me, had stopped before the landing.

“Need something?” I asked, glancing back over the railing at him.

“Nope. Why?”

“Because you climbed halfway up the stairs and stopped,” I explained the unnecessary.

“Technically, I am not halfway up the stairs,” he corrected me, which one might argue was also unnecessary. “I’m five-fourteenths up the stairs.”

I just looked at him.

“Which is just a little over a third,” he added.

I continued to simply look at him.

Then a second voice drifted from the far corner of the living room, “He is technically correct.”

Technically, the antics of my husband and his minion, Younger, have not yet driven me to  complete insanity.


But the fraction is growing.


Best Guess

Am I the only mother who finds scraps of paper all over her house with mathematical equations scribbled all over them?

And the boys never know if they are important.

Maybe, they tell me, snatching the papers from me only to leave them on another surface.

And so, I tuck the random papers in a growing stack, because I do not want to be the mother who tosses the first part of the equation that answers a question plaguing all humankind.

You know, that mother.

But as the stack of mathematical equations towers higher and higher, I have to ask myself —

Am I raising mad geniuses?

Or slobs?

I know, I know.

Mad geniuses.

That’s my best guess, anyway.

Tears of a Vulcan

Over the holiday weekend, I was again trapped in our truck with Younger and my husband and their shared warped humor.

“I was watching Star Trek the other day,” Younger announced, not too long into the drive. “And, at one point, when Spock was crying, the closed captioning read ‘sobbing mathematically.’ ” My husband burst into laughter. “Seriously,” Younger assured us. “I have the pictures.”

And so they launched into an exchange of quoted movie lines and comedian routines, bits and pieces that earned great jocularity and fist bumps in the male members of our small party but left the lone female staring blankly into the darkness beyond the windows.

“Mom,” Younger ventured after several minutes, laughter still in his voice. “You doing okay?”

“I think she’s quietly sobbing,” my husband responded.

“Mathematically,” Younger tacked on, right on cue.

Pushed a bit too far, I, over my husband’s guffaws, replied smartly, “If I’m ever sobbing mathematically, you need to take me directly to a hospital.”

Undaunted, Younger questioned, “Can you sob grammatically?”

We were only fifteen minutes into an hour and a half drive. Even a Vulcan would have been in tears.


Bring It On

For the last eighteen years of so, Elder has been sensitive to any statement or question that implies a lacking in his moral code.

For the last ten years or so, he has loaded his bookcases with medals from regional and state math competitions, as well as spending a week for several summers at math camp.

For the last six months or so, he has worked at a local ice cream shop.

One might wander how these truths interconnect in one simple story. Well…

Last weekend, a customer walked into the shop with a coupon. She and her husband ordered the two ice creams named on the coupon but then added four additional toppings, two more than the coupon allowed. So, when he tallied up her bill, she immediately objected to the higher than expected price.

He tried to explain the coupon and the pricing.

She would have none of it.

“She didn’t believe me,” Elder later complained to his father. “She basically called me a liar.  And then,” he continued, his ire rising exponentially to the insult, “then she questioned my math.”

And it all went downhill from there.

Whatever the axiom may be, when you involve Elder, the customer is not always right.