Think of all the addition equations that equal the sum of ten. That was the latest math homework my six-year old had to do. Not very inspiring, I know, especially if you're Asian as a Postal Office clerk was so keen to point out because I couldn't calculate the total of my transactions when her computer broke down.
"I'm more the Algebraic kind," I told her. "Give me an equation with X and I can figure out what the missing link is. Like "X" is your people skills, in this matter..."
I used to say that I just wasn't good at math. But after the latest parent-teacher conference about our six-year old, I've decided otherwise. He did horribly with the visual problems like producing the sum in a picture of blocks of tens and ones. But when it came to the word equations, which I think are harder for his age, he answered them all correctly. Guess all that time he spent reading really paid off. Wish I could take the credit for it, but he truly did it all on his own - sniff, sniff, I feel so...used.
If anything, at least I understand his relationship with math. Like him, if you threw me any random five numbers - even single digits - I'm more than likely to just make up an answer instead of figuring it out. That's why I'm so easy to con - that's why I can't be an avid sports fan - that's why I always have a boatload of change!
Numbers to me are place holders, like the ticket you get at the deli line. And that's about all I can handle at my age and post baby-brain. If we didn't have speed dialers or smart phones, I'd be calling 911 all day because it's the only phone number I could remember.
It's the idea of numbers I get, although I can't do much else with them. For instance, if you spewed out a bunch of numbers for no reason, you can sound smart. I noticed that when I overheard a construction worker call out a bunch of numbers and I thought, maybe he memorized the measurements to a room or a flaw in the architecture. But no, he was buying a lottery ticket. And if you can't come up with lyrics to a song, just punch in a phone number...call Jenny. Recently, I taught my son how to memorize my cell number by singing it to the tune in "Rent." I have to say, I liked it better than the actual song.
Yeah, yeah - numbers are the universal language. They say it's infinite but really, it's just one through a hundred - everything after a thousand is followed by words: millions, billions, gazillions. Besides, when you get past a certain number, like the national debt, it all starts to sound like mumbo-jumbo.
In closing, the real inspiration for this post came about from my six-year old's math homework - you know, all the equations that equal the sum of ten. While there are only six addition equations (or twelve if you count the turn arounds) that add up to ten, there are an infinite amount of equations when you subtract. And right there, it summed up Life for me, albeit a defeatist one at that. While there are only so many ways you can amount to something, there are endless con artists, scum bags, taxes and Ticketmaster willing to subtract the number that brings you right back to zero.