Young voices

Sinful Subtraction
4/25/2009 10:34:55 AM by: Elsi

A friend near Seattle sent me this, from her brother, who got it from the mother, Susie Lacy, Fort Stockton. My six-year-old daughter Savannah has always held a very black-and-white view of justice. She is very literal in her thinking. People don't make mistakes or forget to do something they promised; they lie. To her way of thinking you either mean what you say and say what you mean, or you lack integrity and honesty. A few days ago I began teaching Savannah the concept of subtraction with borrowing. As I explained the concept, she wore a doubtful expression upon her face. Finally, I asked her if she understood what Mommy was explaining. She replied, "Yes, I understand. But Mom," and she looked deeply into my eyes for the first time and said with quiet conviction, "you're lying. You keep saying you're borrowing; over and over you say that. You keep calling it that, but you're lying, because what you're really doing is stealing from the tens column!" I could hear indignation coating her voice. "You're never giving it that one back! You just keep taking." With complete calm she attempts to counsel her poor wayward mother by saying, "Mom. That's lying, and it's stealing, and those are sins. This is sinful math, and I don't think Jesus would want us to do it this way." After I collected myself, I returned to the schoolroom to see my princess had pulled out the markers and was fashionably decorating Strawberry Shortcake. Without looking up from her self-assigned task she announced quietly, "I think we've done enough of that kind of math for today. We'll revisit it tomorrow, but I want you to know something, Mom. If you keep lying by saying you're going to borrow when you really mean to steal . . . people are going to know you as a chronic liar." I am laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes now. She gazes upon me compassionately, mistaking my tears of joy for tears of personal conviction. "It's okay, Mom, Jesus will forgive you anyway." Smile, I tell myself. We'll revisit this lesson later, but she's getting the important stuff. P.S. She "gets" subtraction with borrowing now but still thinks you should call a spade a spade. It's "taking from the tens column," not borrowing. After all, you're not ever going to give it back.


4/28/2009 6:37:39 AM
  I recall the term "take away 1" from elementary school math. Might that be suitable for Savannah?
  Calvin Dodge,  


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