Two mini-mes live in my house. The Girl is my own personal miniature, and The Boy clearly belongs to The Husband.
Outside of appearance, The Girl is also a lot like me. She’s so much like me that I find it frustrating, unnerving, exasperating, and even befuddling. Similarly, The Boy is like The Husband.
But in other ways, The Boy is mine, and The Girl is her father’s.
Like me, The Boy loves music. The other day after school, he told me all about using boomwhackers in music class. I had never heard of boomwhackers before, but he gave such a fantastic description of them, I could picture what they looked like. For the uninitiated, boomwhackers are plastic tubes, of varying lengths and colors, with each tube producing a different note. You can play the boomwhackers by striking the tubes on something or with something.
The Boy went into great detail about how each tube made a different tone and how striking it with or on different surfaces produced different sounds. He told me you could play each tube individually or you could line up the tubes and play them like a piano. You can also line them up in other various ways, according to The Boy, to make a different scale of a different instrument.
And he’s still into his drums. While practicing the other day, I noticed that The Boy is really improving his skill, rhythm, and control. After practicing, he came into the living room breathless and excited.
“I was practicing my paradiddles, and I was doing them faster and faster and faster until I did them so fast I fell off my chair!”
The Boy loves his music so much that it becomes a physical extension of himself.
The Girl, on the other hand, is a math wizard, just like The Husband. While at a restaurant a few days ago, The Girl told me about how she and a friend created picture math. Of course I didn’t know what picture math was, so I requested an explanation. As it turns out, The Girl and her friend created a system of images that represent adding numbers to themselves. Embedded in each image are the numerals themselves as well as a plus sign. They’ve worked out most of the numbers from 1 – 10 and are expanding their repertoire.
And just the other day, The Girl told me her class had learned how to calculate area. She is in a combined third and fourth grade class, and the entire class learned area. The next day, however, the fourth graders began learning algebra while the third graders practiced area. Once she finished her area lessons, The Girl said she watched the fourth graders to find out what algebra is all about.
Naturally I asked her what algebra is. She told me, “It’s a type of math that you have to figure out what is missing, and what is missing is represented by a letter, like n for example.” Hmm, I thought; let me press her a bit more. So I gave her an equation.
If 7 + n = 12, what is n? Without pausing, she responded, “5.” The Boy was confused, so she explained it to him until he understood. Then I asked her if n always has to be the same number. She said, “No, n can be different for every different problem.”
Of course I asked her another question. If 5 + n = 12, what is n? Again without pausing, she answered , “7.” The Boy, confused by n no longer equalling 5 asked for an explanation, and she gave it to him.
Manipulating numbers comes as readily to her as playing. I think it is playing to her.
I’m amazed by my children. The Boy, at 6, is thinking of new scales on new instruments while becoming a physical part of his music. The Girl, at 8, spends her free time thinking about how to represent math in new ways and facilely explains mathematical concepts to a 6-year-old.
I look at both of them proudly and say, “That’s my kid.”