Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm Not a Math Jeenyus, But You Have a Few Pounds to Lose

Mathematically, I think I probably hit my plateau in 3rd grade. So I have this year and next before I am completely incapable of helping my kid with math homework...and that might be me being generous...

Yesterday after checking his mistake-ridden homework, I sat down with him to try to explain how he needed to fix the following problem (the answer below is the fixed one...I think...I could be wrong):

As you can see, there is a scale and the items on each side are equal. For those of you who are also not impressionist artists, those are staplers and tape holders.

Why could they not have simply used something that is decipherable in a workbook illustration like, oh say...squares and circles, apples and oranges, cats and dogs? Nope we'll stick with staplers and tape dispensers, things that he'll really have to place on a scale at some point in his life. 

And let's not talk about what the middle of the scale kinda looks like...

His original answer of "neither" was wrong: two tape holders, three staplers, yada yada. It's asking which one item weighs more.

"But Mom," he said frustrated. "Staplers are really heavy!" Not the point Ryan. 

Now, I like to think that I have a way with words, but articulating this for Ryan was near impossible for my tiny brain. It made sense in my head, I just couldn't get it out in English words. So I came up with the following analogy.

"Let's say you, Justin and Natalie were on one side of the scale and Mommy and Daddy were on the other and it was equal. If Natalie and Justin stepped off and I stepped off, there would still just be one guy on each end, but Daddy is heavier than you. It took three kids to equal the weight of two adults." He just kinda looked at me. It didn't make much sense to me either. I suck at math.

Then I restated: "Actually, all four of us could stand on one side of the scale and still weigh about the same as Daddy."

Daddy, currently devouring a rotisserie chicken with his greasy bare hands, glares at me from the kitchen while trying to calculate in his head whether I did in fact have a point.

"OH  I GET IT," Ryan said.

Thank God I wasn't going to have to explain any more math tonight. He GETS IT!!!. 

"You're trying to tell Daddy that he's fat AND teach me math at the same time."

And he was absolutely right. That's precisely what I was doing. In real life, he'll probably never have to weigh office supplies, but this kid can pick up on a subtlety from a female, a lesson that's invaluable if I do say so myself.



  1. Ha ha that is hilarious...but why the heck did they use office supplies? Let's make math even more difficult!

  2. Hysterical! You paint quite a visual! I'm sending you a sympathy card when he goes to Middle School! GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!


  3. See, if I was just going to look at the picture, I'd say they're equal--because the scale is obviously balanced. I think too much about this stuff. I really don't like the way that problem is set up. Now it's bugging me.

  4. Ryan is a clever little boy, ha ha, this is too funny. He really got the point.

  5. Um, I had to sit there and really think about this problem. Something is wrong with me. Thank God my husband is good at math or my little guy will be screwged.

  6. Hahaha! A wise child you have. I'm grateful my oldest is only in the 2nd grade. I used to be good at Math, but have after 17 mathless years I can't remember a thing.

  7. HA! I love how he got the underlying message!! That is priceless!! FWIW, I would have looked at that problem for a long time overthinking the darn thing!

  8. I love that your son can pick up on female language - your son will make some woman very happy one day!

  9. Understanding adult humour is far more important than fractions.
    Never have I placed my stapler and tape dispencer on a scale.
    This child will go far

  10. I'm with Rach (maybe it's the accountants who have a problem) - I think they look equal, and now it's going to bother me.

    I hate confusing math. I thought my husband and I were going to have to flip a coin last night (or just straight out fight) to decide who had to check our girls' math homework.

  11. Hahahaha!

    Looks like you might have the same math we do. Lame.

  12. In his defense, that question is ALL WRONG.

    "Which weighs the most, a tape holder or a stapler?"
    Answer: _____ is heavier.

    Implying ONE tape holder versus ONE stapler (at least that's how I read it.)

    The picture just adds to the confusion.

    Shouldn't it read ---
    "Answer: _____ A R E heavier."

    Because it would mean that THREE staplers ARE heavier than TWO tape holders.

    Forget about math, the grammar is all wrong. Right?! RIGHT!??