The New New Math

I overheard this snippet of conversation today at Wendy’s between a man and his son, about 8 years old.  They were sitting behind me, so I don’t know what they were looking at.

Son: Why did they write this number out as 1001 instead of 1K1?

Father: I don’t know.

Son: I think I know why.

Father: Why?

Son (not joking): 1T is one trillion.  1M is one million.  You can’t use 1K because there’s no such thing as a killion.

Can’t fault the kid’s logic on this one.

Oh, wait…

Hide and/or Seek

This is the last of my stories about babysitting Christopher, my friend’s 5-year old.  It is also my favorite.

One evening, after having a particularly tiring day at work, I was watching Christopher, and he decided we were going to play hide-and-seek.  All I wanted to do was sit and read the paper, but because Christopher is so entertaining, and so cute, I knuckled under.  Christopher then began to explain the rules of the game to me.

Christopher decided he was going to hide.  So he proceeded to tell me to close my eyes and count to a hundred.  (Sometimes it was a million, sometimes 48.  Christopher didn’t care.)  It didn’t matter, because once Christopher was hidden, he would yell out “Ready or not, here I come!”, which was my signal to stop counting and come find him. Continue reading

Battle strategy

I don’t have children, so I’m pretty open-minded about offering advice about kids.  My theory is this — if you are willing to consider parenting advice from a childless single person, you probably need the help.  The most commonly offered piece of advice I give is this: If you can’t outsmart a 5-year old, give it back.  (Disclaimer: I also say this about 6-year olds, 8-year olds, and in fact most pre-teens.)

After a certain age, children become little argument machines.  It’s an important part of the developmental process, and a necessary skill for navigating through life.  However, in order for a child to reach his/her full potential, they need to lose a lot of arguments first.  And given what most small children want, it’s usually in their best long-term interests that they lose arguments with adults.  Parenting is an exhausting vocation, and I understand how hard it can be to have the same pointless argument again and again.  But like an athlete coming in off the bench, I still have the energy to fight, and the cunning to win. Continue reading

Kids think the darndest thoughts

As a class, the best people in the world are children between the ages of 4 and 8.  I love them because their little brains are starting to understand the whats of the world around them, but not the hows and whys.  This is why I absolutely adore the AT&T commercials with the kids discussing the merits of smartphones.  I particularly like the kid who wants to make is grandmother faster by taping a cheetah to her back.

I first experienced this myself years ago.  I used to occasionally babysit for a friend who had a 5-year old son named Christopher.  Christopher and I had many entertaining (to me) adventures together.

The first time I sat for him, he forced me to watch his favorite movie du jour, a dreadful children’s adventure called “3 Ninjas”.  The plot involved 3 brothers who were in fact not ninjas, but had taken some martial arts classes.  Sort of a “Jim Henson’s Karate Kid Babies”.  Christopher had seen this movie approximately 100 times, so he insisted we watch it again.  In one dramatic scene, some bullies (if the brothers were ninjas, these bullies would qualify as yakuza) steal our heroine Emily’s bike (probably to sell on the black market).  At this point, Christopher turned to me and asked, “What’s gonna happen now?”  Remember, I had never seen the movie.  Christopher had it practically memorized.  Given the sheer ridiculousness of his question, I turned to Christopher and said, “The bullies are probably going to sell Emily’s bike and go buy ice cream with the money.”  Christopher turned to me with a horrified look on his face and said, “Nuh-uh!!!”.  Not “No, John, you’re wrong!”.  He was saying, “That better not happen!!”  I calmed him down by saying, “Let’s watch and see.”  Sure enough, the ninjas infiltrated the yakuza lair and retrieved the stolen property.  As the dreck continued, I started to realize what had happened.  Christopher had watched this movie over and over, and the same thing always happened, but he had never watched the movie with me.  He thought that I was changing what would happen, and he didn’t like my changes.  He hadn’t internalized the idea that movies don’t change after they’re made.

Unless the hero shoots first in the cantina scene.