If you ask the Gort what it is he actually DOES during his time at school, he usually comes up with very vague, slightly disconcerting answers. ‘I don’t remember’ or ‘we watched a movie’. And, at the conclusion of such conversations I feel like the kid spends his days watching Toy Story.
But sometimes he’ll disclose a useful piece of information, like, ‘we did math today’ and I’ll pounce on the nugget of insight like a tiger on a cat. ‘Really…you did math…what kind of math..did you like it?’ And then I’ll quiz him to see if he actually knows any math. ‘What’s three plus three?’ ‘Six.’ ‘What’s five plus three?’ ‘Eight.’ He’s not just watching Toy Story, I’ll think to myself. (At least not the whole day.)
Today as we drove the professor to the airport for yet another round of spousal abandonment, we passed a Tim Horton’s. I decided it was time for another round of ‘fun-math’. (We’d spent the previous day’s drive home, adding and subtracting Halloween candy, which my mathlete-in-training loved.)
‘If you have five Timbits and you give Henners two, how many Timbits do you have?’ I chirped. ‘Three,’ he replied. Ever the educator, the professor jumped on my math-in-the-car-wagon and took over. ‘If you have five Timbits and you eat two, but then you throw up one of them, how many Timbits do you have?’
‘Four,’ the Gort replied. ‘That’s right!’ my better half crowed enthusiastically. As if his son had just scored some sort of math-touchdown. ‘That’s not right,’ I protested, thoroughly grossed out by the question. ‘If you throw up a Timbit, it’s not like you get a Timbit back. You just get a pile of…Timbit-matter.’
‘It doesn’t matter,’ the professor disagreed, ‘he grasped the meaning of the question and he answered it correctly.’ ‘But it’s a flawed question,’ I argued. Unable to let it go. And I’m sure the Gort was beyond bored by this useless tangent because he interrupted with ‘ask me another one!’ Clearly a fan of Timbit-math. (Which, for you Canadians, is sort of like Timbit-hockey but….super-cheap.)
His dad tried again. ‘Let’s say you have seven Timbits and you eat one and you give Henners two, how many Timbits do you have?’ The Gort thought for a second, ‘four’ he decided. ‘No,’ the professor corrected him, ‘think again.’ At which point I had to interject ‘he’s right. It is four. Seven minus three is….four.’
‘Ah, right you are,’ our fearless instructor agreed, ‘never mind, you were right’ he told the Gort. And the math lesson lost a considerable amount of enthusiasm after that.
We were headed north on Deerfoot Trail, about to exit on the Airport Trail, when the car in front of us nearly rear-ended the car in front of him. Apparently he didn’t think slamming on his brakes would work, so instead he yanked the steering wheel all the way to the right, sending his car directly sideways and nearly into the ditch, at which point he over-corrected (again), pulling his steering wheel in the opposite direction and, subsequently, flying across three lanes of traffic at a thirty-five degree angle; spinning around several times and ultimately ending up on the shoulder. Facing south.
I fully expected he was going to plow directly into our van and all I could do was stop the car and wait for it. That his car managed not to hit a single vehicle during its surreal trajectory, is nothing but a minor miracle.
The experience was replete with all sorts of math lessons. Missed cars. Angles. Velocity. But I was unable to find the ‘teachable’ moment; I’m really only equipped to deal with donuts and candy.