Math nerd at play

Mookie and her two-years-older cousin N. were sharing lots of giggles over dinner tonight as Mookie engaged N. in one of her favorite pastimes, Math Quiz. She posed math problems and he solved them. They quickly got into Math Nerd Humor, Elementary School Division:

M: What’s 13 x 1?
N (feigning puzzlement): Um . . . 13?
M: (collapses laughing)


M: What’s ten times zero times zero times zero times zero . . . (collapses again)

Then he started giving her problems. “What’s -42 divided by 2?” Mookie had no idea what he was talking about. “Negative,” in this context, was a foreign word; she literally said “Huh?!” I suggested to N. that he explain negative numbers to her–she’d enjoy them–but then we heard this:

N: What’s negative 300 plus negative 301?
M: Um . . . 601–wait, no, negative 601.

At this point Joy’s eyes and mine met across the table, both clearly saying, How the hell does she know that?

This child’s intuition for math is astounding. Maybe she gets it from Joy.

Nipping a crisis in the bud

I picked up Mookie from camp and announced that I was going to put on some music and do some cleaning. I hunted around a little for Sgt. Pepper (she loves the Beatles), but, not finding it within a couple of minutes, I decided on Bringing It All Back Home instead, and told her I was putting on Bob Dylan.

Mookie said, “I hate Bob Dylan!”

“Sorry about that,” I said, and started washing the dishes and wondering where I had gone wrong.

“Maggie’s Farm” came on. “That’s not even music!” Mookie declared. I admitted to her that other people have said so, but that they’re wrong.

With some reluctance, I reported this conversation to Joy, Mookie’s Mommy. Her response, after a hoot of laughter, was “I swear I didn’t tell her to say that.” My response was I clearly should have begun this process a long time ago. But it’s not too late. Honestly, how is one to become a properly rebellious, righteous, revolutionary teenager without the likes of “Maggie’s Farm”?

UU day camp, revisited

Earlier this year I posted my wish that there were a UU day camp nearby. Well, it’s not quite the right location for our family for this year, but it’s progress: there is a UU Peace Camp at First Unitarian Church of San Jose! My Palo Alto colleague Dan Harper is on staff, as is one of the dads in our religious education program, a special ed teacher by profession. It looks good.

Next stop, General Assembly. Since the General Assembly only has programming for children who’ve completed grades 4-8 (and only 35 of them), I can’t fulfill Mookie’s request that I bring her along to GA. Well, I could, but she’d be very bored in “child care” with the kids age 0-9. It was fine when she was an infant and toddler, but why would I pay $700 for her to fly to Providence and back and spend the week being babysat in a hotel room? She can stay home and go to dance camp for much less money. I’d rather she connected with other UU kids, but clearly, that possibility is not on the horizon for another three years. Good thing my wife doesn’t want to go to GA.

I suggest that congregations in the Portland, OR, and Columbus, OH, areas think seriously about offering a day camp during the General Assemblies coming up in their cities. I would seriously consider bringing Mookie all that way, carbon footprint and all, if it meant we’d have evenings together and excellent UU programming for her during the day.

A note to the Tooth Fairy

2014 05 13 toothMookie lost her first tooth today. She couldn’t find the special tooth pillow Bubbe gave her for this occasion (luckily, she’ll have 19 more chances), but popped it into a plastic bag and carefully taped this note onto it:

Dear Tooth-fairy,

Look inside, were my tooth is, and, then please take it right back. But please just don’t forget to give something


Love, [Mookie]

Originally it said “But don’t forget to give something BACK,” and she clearly thought better of her tone, used the ever-handy caret, and added the “please just.”

LGBT diversity at school

We have an LGBT diversity event at Mookie’s school each year. Last year, the kids’ activities leading up to it were about their families, and a self portrait of every family was on the cafeteria wall. I wasn’t sure the message that families are all different and okay–including ones with LGBT parents–got through to the kids, based on some clueless comments we hear from a few of them. (No, Mookie’s daddy is not dead, small rude child. She doesn’t have one and never did.)

This year, at least some of the kids led up to LGBT diversity night by learning about . . . LGBT people. The result of their art projects was this stunning patchwork:


It’s a good thing I saw it Monday, so I could get my teariness out of the way before the event tonight.

Aren’t these squares great? I think that’s shark-dolphin love in the second one, very daring.



And I love Mookie’s. I’ve cropped it here to omit her name, but it says “Respeto es compartir,” “Respect is sharing.”


She’s in the right place.