Vintage Cookie Proof

Scene: Thursday, a rare bon-bon afternoon on sofa, comforter up to my neck, watching movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins in which they both play crazy and maybe-crazy super-mathematicians.

4-year-old wanders in and snuggles down.

4-year-old: Can I have a cookie?

Mother: In a second.



4yo: What is that lady doing?

Mother: She’s uh…she’s doing a math problem.

4yo: Is she a teacher?

Mother: She’s a mathematician.

4yo: Does she teach math?

Mother: No. She just does math problems. Works out big long math problems that are very, very hard. She’s very smart. Super smart.

4yo: I’m good at math!

Mother: You are! You are very good at math!

4yo: Why is she yelling at that man? Why is that man sitting outside in the snow?

Mother: Mmmm…well, that’s her dad and he’s not…uh…feeling well. He is very good at math, too. That is his job. Math.

4yo: Oh. Math can make you sick.

Mother: Uh…well…no, he’s sick for other reasons.

4yo: Maybe from learning his alphabet.

Mother: Well…hmmm….

4yo: What is she writing in that book?

Mother: It's a proof, a kind of math problem. The proof she's writing is very long and very difficult. She is so good at math, she is writing one math problem that is 40 pages long. She has been working on it for days and days and weeks and months.

4yo: I bet it’s like 4+5+2+7+1+3+5+3+5.…

Mother: Yes…

4yo: …+4+6+5+7+2+132+2+infinity+2+65+three gagillion, fifty bazillion+2+1.…

Mother: It is.

4yo: …+3+5+6+6+678.…

Mother: That’s a long one, for sure.

4yo: …minus fifty-thirty.

Mother: Let’s be quiet for a second, okay?



4yo: I was quiet for five seconds.

Mother: Yes. You were. Let’s watch the movie for a few more seconds, 'kay?



4yo: I am going to be a mathematician when I grow up….

Mother: I know you can do it.

4yo: …and a rock star.

Mother: Just like Laurie Anderson.

4yo: And if you are sitting out in the snow, I won’t yell at you.

Mother: Thank you.



4yo: Can I have 1+1 cookies now?

Mother: Sure. Let’s go.

4yo: And Mommy, in case you don’t know, that equals two cookies.

Mother: I’m on the phone to Princeton as we speak.

Movie off. Scene.


ozma said...

That's a great way to teach math. I'm going to try that.

But please don't send your kid to Princeton. No offense, if you are a Princeton grad. If you want to go Ivy League, go Yale. Or Columbia. Or Cornell.

Hey, did you stop tweeting? I miss your parenting advice. (Hope I did not accidentally unfollow you...If I did, it was purely an accident.)

HDR Photography Blog said...

4yo: Can I have 1+1 cookies now? - cool..clever girl

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bedroom dresser said...

That is math! I like it so much! Great way to do it!

Jill said...

Awesome!!! Sheer genius! (Both of you!)

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Moobs said...

Would your 4 y.o. be available for some tutoring?

hope smith said...

great teaching!!!
that is a very good way to do that.

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