My animosity toward Mathematics goes way back to first grade. It was then and there, in a classroom with six other boys and girls, that I decided math and I would never get along--we would never bond, we would never be friends.
You know those games where people pick teams and someone is always last to be chosen? Picture me in first grade as we got ready to play the math game at the black board. Envision me with sweaty palms and a racing heart as the teams were chosen. Do you have a guess yet of who was always chosen LAST for the Math Race?
I excelled (at my seat) in spelling. I was a whiz at reading. But if numbers were involved--especially with chalk in my hand--my mind became a blank, mushy, uncooperative thing that just trembled in my skull.
The only time I ever sat in the hall was the day that EVERYONE BUT ME had finished their math assignment and were wandering around the room and talking and laughing. And I was on number 4. And finally I was sent to sit at a table in the hall to finish the paper. Hearing the giggling and chatting from the classroom did not really help me finish much quicker. And the fact that most likely they were playing the wretched racing math game did not make me feel better. All I could think of was the humiliation of sitting in the hall, the humiliation of being chosen last for the math race, and the humiliation that always accompanied things with plusses and minusses.
About fifth grade, we got to learn 'new' math. Oh dear. Now not only could I not do math, but my mom and dad couldn't help with it either!
Then Freshman year and Algebra! If I couldn't find the answer to the one unknown in regular math, how the heck was I supposed to figure out what X and Y and sometimes another letter were?
I developed an uneasy truce with Geometry. For some reason, this math class didn't seem that impossible to me. Figuring area with a formula handy made sense to this farmer's daughter. But forget anything else!
Thankfully, Les balances the checkbook. When we were first married, he complained that I did not subtract the checks I wrote. Privately, I thought he should just be glad I wrote it down at all, ! But, dutifully, I began to subtract the checks. It wasn't so bad if the change ended in a zero. When getting gas, or at the grocery store, I usually tried to write it for an even amount. That way, I'd get a little change and usually was able to subtract correctly!
Then one day, Les approached me with checkbook in hand and a wrathful expression on his face! The time of reckoning had arrived. You know that carrying part you have to do when subtracting? Well, I'd always had a problem with that. And it seems that I had neglected to carry some little insignificant number, resulting in a $100 difference in the register amount and the real amount in the bank. I'm not sure which side of the zero we were on--the red or the blue, but needless to say, he never nagged me again about subtracting!
Occasionally, just for fun (as if) I subtract a check or two that I write. Les checks it and I'm still in math class! Why just the other day, I found out that four minus zero does not equal zero! Who knew! He's learned to laugh at it. I've learned not to try.
I can remember library call numbers (759.7043--Vietnam War, 942.1--Medieval Era). I can remember some dates (1939-1945--World War II). I can remember (usually) that the speed limit is 65. But please don't ask me to remember the times tables. Don't ask me to subtract. And please, please, most of all, don't ask me to divide.
Irrational numbers? Irrational! Two negatives make a positive? Positively not! Integers, pi, Pythagorean Theorem? Well, let's turn to the Bible. The wisest man in the Old Testamnet tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:2:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless."
I'm pretty sure Solomon was talking about math! And that's good enough for me!