Math and me and a crying boy

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Every Friday morning I take my son Emmett out for a pre-school breakfast.

It’s a ritual I’ve come to love. We choose a local restaurant, order some eggs and flapjacks, talk about school and sports and politics and … whatever. We also play a lot of gin rummy, which was much more enjoyable before he started kicking my ass.

I digress.

Today Emmett and I hit up a new pastry joint, ordered our grub. Then the boy, who’s in sixth grade, pulled out his math worksheets. He has a test later this afternoon and he wanted to prepare. “I’m a little confused about some of this,” he said. “Like, when you multiply negative fractions …”

Uh oh.

I started explaining things that I shouldn’t be explaining. You know, like, a negative plus a negative minus a positive is a positive, or maybe a negative. But probably a positive. As long as there’s an interger.

“Dad, it’s an integer.”

That’s what I said.

“No, you didn’t.”

So you take the interger, then another interger, and you have …

I looked up. The boy was crying.

“You’re confusing me,” he said. “I was confident, and now …”

More tears.

I offered a bite of croissant. He wasn’t interested.

I called the wife. She wasn’t there.

“Look,” I confessed, “I suck at math.”

“I know,” he replied.

“So ignore me,” I said. “Just trust yourself.”

“I don’t trust myself,” he said.

Then he laughed.

“But,” he said, “I trust myself more than I trust you.”