You Don't Need Math To Know That You Are Part of the Problem ...or The Solution

[original picture/upload]


Eight days and 56 seconds until the day. Eight days from my birthday. Eight until my death.

"Ms.A are you sick?"Bradley the subtle, sandy-colored hair, and freckled face 4th grader inquires. "No brad, please finish the problem", I replied short and not amused. "But, Ms. A if I don't have a problem then how can I solve it?" Suddenly I jerk my head up consumed by his apparently obvious question. If there isn't a problem then how can there be a solution? I was easily distracted for the next 12 minutes.

Here I sat in a dumpy old elementary school 8 days before my birthday. 8 days before my life should be changing forever. I only have 8 days to accomplish everything I should have accomplished before I grew too bored with what I already accomplished.I found myself suddenly consumed with anger and frustration. I thought I was over the whole elementary tid-bit. I am mature. But, here I was at least a decade later right back where I started. Granted, I was the teacher this time, not the student. Still though I wondered, 'how much had I really learned'.

"Let me see that Brad", I instructed. I grasped quickly for his pencil and all too eager for his notepad. Equation after equation and number after number I vigorously scribbled down problem after problem. Some of them were word problems, some of them were numerical , and some weren't even visible. All of them belonged to me. I stared blankly at the page once I finished mentally purging. Brad quietly looked up, afraid to ask if I was done..or what I had created. "My life," I informed him. "This, this is my life and these are all of my problems, and sometimes adults need help sorting through the math of it all." I mumbled barely louder than a whisper. "I'm just lost. I don't know who to ask for help, or where to start and some problems just don't have answers." I bravely continued blurting out more than I had intended to.

"Do you like us?"spoke up a voice nearby, it was only a few foot steps away. It is Sarah the hazel eyed 'tom boy' of the class. "like, don't ya wanna teach us?", another child chimed in. Suddenly I was surrounded by a group of about 6 students all too eager to question my intentions in this misty lil box of a classroom. "It's not that easy" I interjected. I want to teach, I love teaching. I tried to scream at them but, failed. "These are all my problems, if you solve them I will stay", I spoke. I was content with those words. They were a challenge, a loop hole.

"Ok," three of them grabbed at the pencil at once. They'll never solve this. "Well why can't we just add them all and subtract 'frusraioun' (frustration)?!" demanded Scott. "...and then we can borrow from 'strangth' and multiply ummm hope" "Haha, really?!" I asked suspicious of where they were headed. Suddenly Brad grabs my hand. He leans closer and whispers in my ear-afraid I can't hear through my hijab (scarf)"Ms. A I know the answer."

Brad once asked if i would marry him and I prayed this wasn't his 'answer' to all my problems. Marriage was already on my list of issues. "Kayla stop and give brad the paper he has an answer." Kayla was a little more than eager to hand Brad the sheet back. Brad looks up at me with darting eyes, pleading for permission. I nod in approval. Brad takes the sheet, gently lifting the corners and flips it over.He stares down, ill content with his choice. So he flips his hand over to where his pad of paper lay and rips out a new sheet. "Here Ms. A", he instructs me. "Let's start over." He gently smiles up at me.

My checks flush a brilliant hue of bronze and a twinkle is in my eye. I don't think he knows what he's done for me. I'm onto him. I tell the others to listen for Brads 'explanation'. "Ms. A if you're too busy worrying, you'll worry about worrying and fail at everything cause you're worried." He squints his eyes contemplating his next move. He pulls off his eraser and instead rips half of my 'problems' page in half. "& if you're too scared to do new things because of all your old baggage then you won't ever do anything."

"PUT IT IN THE CLOSET", yelps out Shelbie. She looks ashamed. "..well when my aunt visits and she has too much baggage we put it in the closet." Scott grabs the paper and rips off about another fourth. Brad smiles, "Then all your left with is this", he seemed confused about what to do next. I grabbed the remaining sheet and lay it on his 'fresh' sheet of paper. "YES!", he suddenly beams. "we can borrow from all the stuff you already know, and are already doing right and add onto it."

"But I still have to live my life and fulfill all of my dreams" I remind him. I'm content in knowing there's no way they can solve this equation. "But I know you will." He glances up from his creation to inform me, "You wanted to teach us, and then you did." Kayla speaks, "Ms. A you can't wait your whole life to live it."

I can't wait. I glance at my watch well aware that math is now over. So, I dismiss the kids to recess, finally prepared to be alone. I count the smiles on each of the accomplished faces of my math 'squad'. 2...4....6...8.

8. I looked down at the warm piece of hope in my hands.

There it is, a blue-lined wrinkled little piece of paper. It's a 1/4 of my past and 1/4 of my present. I pick up Brads pencil he left on the table and quickly draw a line down 1/2 of the page. I scribble in Scott, Kayla, Brad, Shelbie, Jace, Jessie, Samantha, and Brett. 8. I left room to add more, I left room to 'borrow' from their strength and 'carry' it into my present. But for now I was content as they had solved my problem.. They solved it, for presently they are my future. They are my beautiful 1/2 of a page.

You are the best definition of good intention.
So again, the teacher became the student.


Constructive Attitude said...

wow. i loved this. your kids are truly awesome.

"Well why can't we just add them all and subtract 'frusraioun' (frustration)?!" demanded Scott. "...and then we can borrow from 'strangth' and multiply ummm hope"

Why cant we do that?

sevencarpileup said...

They sound like the smartest, sweetest bunch of kids. Wow.

Ilana said...

do you have to get married on your birthday?

...Love said...

Woah, I must have been really eager to post. This piece is sloppy, and ill-defined.

Will update tomorrow. =)

P.S. You're too quick Ilana.

Ilana said...

i read fast but respond slow --blogroll :-P

TheGossamerThread said...

Do kids speak like this?Little kids can be so surprising sometimes...really well written regardless. You have a way of writing all your own: you answer some but mostly you mix mystery in.

Anonymous said...

yo how old are you? you gettin married?

...Love said...

errr, is the most you got out of my post seriously that I'm getting married?

if so, then that's sad and you definitely need to re-read it.

Anonymously Anonymous said...

Is it sad or are you getting married. Only a few days now and I think we deserve an answer misses.

...Love said...

hahah are you serious? For clarification purposes I'm not beautiful or getting married.

Ilana said...

BWHAHHAHHAA--loook i started a rumor in your comment sector MWHAHAHAAHA