Saturday, March 29, 2008

7 + 2 = ?

“No, sweetie, show the smaller number with your fingers and count.” There I was, helping my six-year-old daughter with her kindergarten mathematic homework. The question was “7+2=”. Upon reading the question, she took out seven fingers and started counting from 3, putting down one finger after each count. After she had counted to nine and written down the answer, I interrupted.

Holding up two fingers, “Seven. Eight and nine. See, it’s easier and quicker by counting the smaller number.’ My little girl nodded in agreement, seemingly understood. Looking at her homework for the day, I sighed, remembering that we probably didn’t even start doing such mathematic problems until we were in primary school.

Children’s education, their diet, daily and weekend activities, tuition, music lesson, etc are regular topics for our ex-classmates gathering nowadays. And it didn’t seem that long ago that we were talking about girls, girls and girls. Then it became who’s getting married and who’s still swinging and partying. Time flies. Apart from pondering on how the environment has changed for children nowadays, the flying speed of time machine is also getting a bit intimidating to most of us. Topics on how to keep healthy with exercises and diet are already slowly creeping into our conversation more and more. Although, the impact caused by the awareness of time's flying speed, which arises amongst crowd of friends, is different from that arises amongst crowd of relatives.

I remember this wedding dinner of my cousin not long ago. Invariably, at this kind of family gathering, talks about how we have not met for a long time, how are things lately, and why who and who are not there, will come up. My heart was already heavy when I overheard my dad and his cousins talking about a relative who had just passed away last month. They then started counting who has gone before him. Then my heart suddenly sank. Instead of counting who has gone onto the other world, they were then naming who are left in this world. See, it’s easier and quicker by counting the smaller number.

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