"What's 5+5+5+5+5? What's 24+19?"
As I come to, I recognize that it's one of the twins talking. I then try to wrap my brain around the context.
"What? Was it five 5's? What were the other numbers? 25 ... 43... I think ..."
Wait! Why am I even answering? I look at the clock with one eye open. It's 6:11 a.m. It's not time for math. But, I guess I'm done sleeping.
Should I put my headphones on and lie here for another 30 minutes or just get up? I can hear everyone stirring. That doesn't help me make a decision.
I'd like to think letting the kids sort themselves out will help them transition better into adulthood, where everyone puts their own underwear on and makes the hefty decision of which cereal to have. My lot will still probably need to live in a group home regardless because they can do advanced math, but can't seem to put their own shoes on.
I usually feel OK about not intervening with the downstairs activities until I hear screaming and come down to find someone sitting on top of someone else because they've had the last bowl of Life. That, plus I love finding spilled milk and Rice Krispies on the floor. Whoever thought up the expression, "No use crying over spilled milk" was an idealistic idiot who repressed his or her feelings daily. If I want to cry, I will cry and it may be for no reason at all!
I settle things, make a cup of tea and join everyone at the table. I'm quizzed a bit more on my math skills. I seem to have made it through college calculus, but I am struggling with simple addition. I can already feel them questioning my abilities/sanity when one of them asks about the color of some paper and which one is more red. I reply, "This one is red-er." My oldest is on it: "Red-er is not a word."
Our gazes meet and I stare her down for a good couple of seconds.
Then I say, "You see this cup? It's not empty yet. And your sisters, they have been firing math questions at me since 6:11. I write! I know 'red-er' is not a word! But until I finish this cup and before 7:30, we let some things slide ... OK?!
She smiles and says, "OK, mom."
As we wrap up breakfast, someone starts in with another math problem.
"Nope. No thank you. We are done with math this morning!"
Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.