Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Regret

I was in the first grade, and we were working on math. The teacher said those who had finished their worksheets early could go and help the kids who hadn't finished yet. So I stood up and walked over to a kid who had his hand raised for help. Kristopher. With a K.

The help went like this:

Problem: 6+7=?

Me: "Six plus four is?"

Kristopher: "Ten."

Me: "Plus three is?"

Kristopher: "Thirteen!"

Problem: 8+6=?

Me: "Eight plus two is?"

Kristopher: "Ten."

Me: "Plus four is?"

Kristopher: "Fourteen!"


Good stuff, right?

Days later, same situation. I again approached Kristopher with a K, whose hand was raised for help.

The difference? I was in a bad mood! Everything was annoying me! There was the self-righteous thought floating around in my brain that I shouldn't be doing all the work for him.

So the help went like this:

Problem: 6+7=?

Me: "Six plus seven is?"

Kristopher: (Pause.)

Kristopher: "I want you to do it that way you did before, when you broke it up."

Me: "NO!!"

Me: "Six plus seven is?"

Kristopher: (Pause.) (Fingers consulted.) (Dejectedly:) "Thirteen."


It didn't take many minutes after we were done for me to realize that this kind of help was no help at all. Sadly, that was the last time our teacher had the faster students help the slower students with math.

I am sure Kristopher is out there somewhere, trying to calculate his portion of a restaurant bill or estimate the number of friends he has or whatever, numbers swirling all around him, fingers being consulted, confusion reigning. I've always wished I could go back and explain how the math worked in my head so he could maybe make it work that way in his head.

But alas. I missed my chance to change his life through the joy of mathematics.


Kristina P. said...

I can't believe you ruined someone's life.

Chrissie said...

I regret telling Cole (with a "C") that I wouldn't sit with him at lunch because he had a booger in his nose (also first grade).

Megs said...


Lindsay Gunnell said...

Awesome, Dani. First grade is a charming time. I told everyone who would listen that I could spell the longest word in English, which of course is encyclopedia.