Monday, 20 June 2011

Monday Monster

The week begins. Thanks to a wonderfully spent Sunday, there is a freshness in the mind and body today. I bid goodbye to the little monster at the school gates, and as usual waited for a few minutes, to see if she will turn around and look for me. In earlier days, she would. Now, well integrated into it all, she usually doesn't. She walks in purposefully, her mind scheming about something or the other. Little monster, did I say? Generally, not so little. This morning when I woke her up, I marveled at how far down the length of the bed her feet reached. But amidst the bigger kids (who were hanging around today at the school, perhaps we were a bit early or something), she looks tiny.

My heart felt a pang as I saw her walk in today, her left hand clutching the lunch bag, the giant school bag (not that heavy!) on her shoulders, her hair sticking out a bit in the back of her head. I was yelling at her in the car for contemplating single digit addition - a matter I feel she must have incorporated into her very being. Perhaps I forget that she is a 4 ft tall, 7 year old child. Or perhaps she is just yanking my chain. Or perhaps it all doesn't matter much. I recommended that she close her eyes and see the pattern there. She smiled knowingly - I know that she thinks that many of my statements of that sort are funny, that I am funny, and my geekiness knows no bounds. She has a bit of my geekiness, I suppose, but also a bit of her father's bluster. Anyway, we did some multiplication, rather successfully, in the car. It was during that exercise that I found it necessary to comment on the slowness in adding 7 & 4 (rather coincidentally her current age and height in appropriate units).

Is Math the most important thing in life? Sadly perhaps, I feel so. I still feel giant pangs of regret that I did not take to the theoretical aspects of the subject as well as I could have. I am occasionally ashamed of myself for using that beautiful thing as a work-horse to solve my problems. I hear my father's slightly disapproving voice when I contemplate performing computer simulations, instead of understanding something through pure thought. I longingly read about olden day scientists who could solve things based on pure thought. Even as I note in my calendar for the summer months (yes, its still summer here), '2 hours or reading', everyday. Reading others solutions to and definitions of problems, for inspiration for my own research. Even as I comment to my husband and colleagues and students, that reading has really taken a back seat in today's computer age, when it could be the opposite, considering how accessible books and journal articles are, and the g0d-send that acrobat reader (free) is.

And in the middle of it all, is the unbidden thought that my little monster, my smart-alecky, slow-eating, dream-world denizen of a child, is of un-quantifiable importance to me. There is an emotional quality that is quite unexpected at times, that hits me between the eyes (like a wet fish). Yes, its a lot of work, this whole parenting gig. But thats nothing compared to the cornucopia of feelings that flood through as one sees a child learn - that light in the eyes that goes off when she 'gets' something...


Bannu said...

Oh these question-answer sessions in car are great fun, much learning takes places and all in fun! And about formulations vs simulations, I know what you mean. Sometime I have similar thoughts about experiments vs theory. I guess for research of physical phenomenon you need all components even if your focus is more on one than the other.

Choxbox said...

beautiful kenny.

agree re the reading/math.
if only i had been able to see the beauty then. but thanks to the kids, i do now - so much of what i'd totally missed then.