Since he started Montessori school this Fall, G/Son has been making really big strides in learning to read and in learning about math. (A fussy former educator, I'm pretty happy w/ just about everything I've learned about his teacher, classmates, and school. Conversation today in the car: Nonna: "I hear that there's a creek at your school." G/Son: "Yes, it's a long walk from my classroom, but long walks outside are good for you, Nonna.")
A world-class worrier, I've never spent a moment worrying about this kid's ability to learn to read. But I am relieved to see his growing ability to think numerically. His dad was v good in math, which just goes to show you that it can't be all genes, genes, genes all the way down, because neither I nor Son's father had much facility with the maths. (Nor can it all be parental nurture all the way down, because the best thing I could do for Son's development as a mathematical human was to say, "Do your homework,"" and "Should I get you a tutor?" and, "Really, did you do your homework?") The only award at Son's high school that came with a check was the math award, which he won his senior year and applied to the purchase of his first computer.
I'm old enough to have grown up when it was definitely acceptable for girls to be good at English, Religion (I won that award every year at my Catholic school. Heh.), and the Social Sciences, but not at Arithmetic, Science, and Math. I come by my own inabilities honestly though, and not as a result of some "I'll be cute and act dumb" decision. My right brain abilities are as retarded as my left brain (and I'm just being honest here) abilities are advanced. I can't place one object in physical relationship to another object if my life depends upon it, and, often, that includes the physical relationship between my own body and the rest of the world. (Can you say multiple sprained and two broken ankles? I knew that you could.) There's a reason why I love ballet but didn't study it much beyond my early teens. I once spent the most intellectually intense hour of my life not figuring out an obscure legal concept but, instead, trying to figure out which rooms in my basement were under which rooms in the upstairs of my house and to be able to "feel" that my answers were right. No musical ability, no ability to draw or paint, no ability to read maps, no ability to sculpt, etc., etc. So, obviously, I honestly lack whatever it is that makes some people easily able to think about numbers. But I do imagine that, had I arrived here with a penis, someone would have been a bit more concerned about the inability of a clearly not-stupid person to do anything vaguely numerical.
Which is all a long way of saying that I'm quite relieved and happy to find G/Son enjoying his exploration of the world of numbers.
This morning, after an overnight at Nonna's house that involved watching Peter Pan (Nonna's inside-her-head-voice: "Someday, you are so going to get the concept of a 'puer aeternus'") , we were driving to G/Son's house, after a short stop for breakfast, and G/Son said to me, "Nonna, what if you have a 1 and a 0? That's not 1, because the 1 comes before the 0. That's ten." And (after thinking for a moment) I said, "That's right; when you write a 1 and a 0 together, it makes 10." G/Son said, "And, Nonna! Do you know what you get if you write a 2 and a 0 together?" Again, Nonna checked herself and said, "You get twenty?" G/Son said, "That's right. Because when the zero comes second, you are dealing with tens. Now, Nonna, ask me about what you get if you write a 3 and a zero together!" And, so, of course, I did and, so, of course, G/Son got it right. And, all the way from Nonna's cottage to G/Son's house, we played games about numbers and, then, in a feat unimaginable in any universe, the child dancing upon Gaia with about 25% of my defective genetic material counted from 1 to 200. What amazed me, and, really, this is the point of this post, and I DO have one, is how much fun this was for G/Son. Every time that he'd get another set of questions right ("What is 8 and 0? Eighty. What is 8 and 1? Eighty-one. What is 8 and 2? Eighty-two. . . . .") G/Son would just beam and, literally, laugh for joy. Whenever we got to a question that involved fives ("What do you get if you write 5 and 5 together?" "Fifty-five!") I would say, "Give me five!" and G/Son would chuckle with glee and slap my outstretched hand. The look of joy on his face was, well, to use a numerical expression, priceless.
If there's anything in the world that I wish for this child beyond good health, which, thank the Goddess, he seems to enjoy, it is joy in learning. G/Son: "Nonna! Ask me another one!"
I don't know what I may have done, in my (clearly) wicked youth or childhood, but, at some point, either Grace just took over or I may have done something good. At any rate, none of the boychilds that I have launched upon the world appear to bear my complete inability to manipulate numerical concepts. And, that is a v good thing.
You know, he goes right directly to my heart, completely w/o passing "go" this golden-haired elf, he does.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."