Keep in mind that this is Stephen’s *enrichment* homework, not his regular homework. AKA he is ahead of 2nd grade math so they are giving him extra homework from 3rd grade also (oh, the rewards of over achievement!)

So I was checking one of his problems: 748-459

He got = 311

Tell me now, right now, no devices or calculators, if that is the right answer! No cheating!

I thought…and thought…and started to try to do the problem…and realized I couldn’t. I forgot long subtraction! I typed it into my calculator–wrong answer! But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember how to figure it out.

When Stephen arrived for his homework, I said, “Stephen, this isn’t right.”

“Why not?”

“Um…because it’s not the right answer!”

Stephen looked. “Yes it is! I subtracted the numbers!”

Me: “No, honey, it isn’t right.”

“Why not?”

“Um…because, look, when I type it into my calculator, I get 289.”

“Oh. Ok,” he said, erasing his answer and writing “289”.

“No no!” I said, “You can’t just copy the right answer! You have to learn to *do* the problem.”

“Ok,” he said. And looked at me expectantly, pencil raised.

“Daddy will give you a math lesson after dinner!”

And he did:

But for the record, his regular homework is tricky, too! I had to think about this one:

And then tonight, more enrichment homework:

I thought about the numbers. Umm….

“Stephen, where did this number come from? You have to show your work!” (I do remember that much from math class!)

“I did!” He said, pointing at the margin. “See? Right there.”

“Oh! Then I don’t think you did it right, because first you have to add the two numbers of books he read, *then* subtract–”

“Mom! I just took the 300 away from the 348 right away and then added the other books he didn’t read.”

??? looking…thinking…checking….

“Oh….um…I think that’s fine, then. I would have done it differently…but your way is actually easier I think. Did your teacher show you to do that?”

Stephen shook his head.

“Well, I think that works. Good job!”

Stephen smiled proudly and reverted back to his crazy goofball self.

Before you go shaking your head and sighing, “I guess that’s why she was an English major!” Remember that I DID get an “A” in Advanced Placement Calculus senior year of high school and a 4 on the AP BC Calc test…It’s just been a while!

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## About jennyvogan

Author of "Stephen's Mom," a blog documenting the funny, crazy life of raising four boys while keeping my day job as an ultrasound tech.

This English major is actually kind of proud of myself that after looking at those problems for a few minutes, I got them! WOO! Math is hard…

Good job Rainey! I guess I need a refresher class on basic math! Good thing I married a math major 🙂