I know that someday you'll find better things.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Jimmy and The Emails

"Are you ready for your test?" Hannah asked.

"I'm not sure. I still get most of the matrix problems wrong, but I've gotten really good at Jimmy and The Emails. Go ahead, quiz me on it."

"Jimmy and The Emails... I'm not familiar with that one," she said.

"Jimmy receives an average of 22 new emails each day," I recited. "However, he does not check his email while on vacation. Prior to his first day of vacation," I continued, "he had 9 unread messages. How many messages would he have on the nth day of vacation?"


"Nth. It's sort of like X, but worse, because it's even more mysterious. It could be anything. It could be everything."

"So... 22x+9?" 

Jeez. That was fast.

"Well...yes. But it's much more complicated when you have to write it down. There are 'A's and subscripts and 'd's and all kinds of stuff. When you have to write it down, it's quite challenging."

Hannah nodded supportively and said nothing. It was a very wise decision.


Apparently ANYONE of ANY age can be asked to solve a 'Jimmy and The Emails' situation.

Look at my first-grader's homework!

And that Mia, she tackled it up to ten without so much as a peep of assistance.

But the 100th day part was messing with her head. Well, her patience, at least.

"Mo-om, I don't want to do this ninety more times. I want to go outside and play!"

"Mia, today is your lucky day. Mommy is a pro at these things. Here, I'll teach you all about it. It's just like Jimmy and The Emails, except it's a bird and seeds.

I didn't take her through the whole 'A' and 'Nth' and 'd' thing, because I didn't want to scar her for life. Instead, we went in through the back door by analyzing her existing pattern. It literally took two minutes to knock it out. 

Boom. Done.

"That was easy," Mia announced, scampering toward the door.

See? I told you I was a pro at Jimmy and The Emails. First grade homework no longer intimidates me now that I am an accomplished Collegiate Algebraean. 

(Algebrite? Algebrit? I'll think of something.)


"Mom, we need to take another look at the Chickadee problem. My teacher says we didn't do it right."


"We did it right. We did it right. All you need to do is explain to her," --deep breath, deep breath-- "that this is an arithmetic progression which is inherently recursive, and that you used the starting term, the nth term, and the difference-- in this case, a constant of +3-- to solve it through algebraic reasoning."

This is just one of the many, many, many reasons why I hate homework, but gosh darnit, we did it right.

Yes, it is preposterous that the little bird would eat 298 seeds in one afternoon on Day 100, but one should not get dazzled by the details.

Incidentally, it is not preposterous that Jimmy would have 229 unopened emails in his inbox after a ten day vacation.

That's just how math is. Sometimes it makes no sense at all, and sometimes it makes all the sense in the world. Sometimes it is confusing on paper and logical out loud. Sometimes someone else understands it immediately, while it takes you seven tries to pass one college algebra course.

Perhaps that was the true purpose of Mia's homework assignment--  to de-sensitize kids from an expectation of logic while they're still young and impressionable.

1 comment:

  1. Well, congratulations on your Algebra completion!!! Now that that's behind you, take a deep breath, sit back with your feet up and relax after you tear up Mia's homework nonsense!