Monday, June 23, 2008

The Math Team

An opportunity for insight ... a rare time to be with her
Parenting in the “Adult Chaperon” role
With (of all things) her school's Math Competition Team
How challenging could that possibly be (besides the math)?

A chance to see why she is even on the Team
She hates math … and isn’t that good at it (I think?)
But she is one of the four … very curious … why?
What role does she play … how does she contribute?

To the venue we go … the two girls, two boys
One girl studiously checking over her note cards
One boy engaged in his book, the other with headphones
And she … she is detached and seems oblivious

I see the scheme … one team per table
Problem placed face down … do not start ‘til signaled
Then the bell … and I watch them set to work
Each with their own style and focus

The boys locked into the mechanics of the problem
The ‘Other Girl’ explaining the language and parameters
She listens … takes it all in … doing little that would be math
Then she strikes … directing the others … taking charge

Other teams work feverishly … members contributing equally
Her team is disparate … she is the coxswain
She beats out the stroke cadence … exhorts the efforts
Then, they have each contributed … she raises her hand

They win, or come in second, or third, of two dozen teams
Another problem … same scheme … She is the coordinator
Over and over they are in the top finishers
And they win a trophy … first time for their school

Break time … all of the other schools’ teams talk of the Mall
I have another plan … to that Special Park … out of the way
Those oak trees fighting for sunlight … by growing horizontally
Huge trunks just feet off of the ground … begging to be climbed

Girls leap from the car …excited for something of boys’ domain
The boys stay locked into heavy metal and book … watching
The book is marked … set aside … the headphones removed
Boys hesitantly approach a forest of strange accommodations

These four find new joys … none had ever climbed a tree
Physical endeavors were unknown to them … beyond them
There was laughter … silliness from the Math Team!
I saw her in her element … the Leader … the Dominant One


aims said...

How lovely JM - to show them another kind of problem - another place. I love the picture of that tree! I'd like to climb it myself!

Sandra Ree said...

Oh, the joy of climbing a tree in my youth. I think every child, before they reach adulthood, should be allowed that simple joy. How wise you are, John-Michael. :)

Congratulations to her on the first time math trophy! How exciting that it was the school's first!

John-Michael said...

It was so much fun, Aims, to sit in the car ... never gave any suggestions or directions as to how to approach what was a completely alien environment for all four of them. I just allowed them to discover, investigate, probe, and test their own inclinations and desires. It was so cool for the two boys to see the girls up in the trees whilst they were still in the car with me. We were surrounded by trees only. No playground equipment. No mechanical or electrical devises. Just all of those majestic trees. And they all were so energized and excited by the experience. I loved it!

John-Michael said...

Though this happened in my daughter's 8th grade year in middle school, which was whilst we were still in contact, I still relish an occasional (as in today) recollection of the event. My loss of those opportunities just may colour my enthusiasm for hearing of the special moments that you have with your children, Sandra. For I do miss that involvement, and treasure hearing of and vicariously sharing in yours. The love and intimate involvement that you know with your family is so beautiful and rich. I thank you for allowing my enjoyment of it.

Lovingly ...

lime said...

a ring leader in every way, isn't she!

Suldog said...

I like the juxtaposition between the concrete task and the fun. And, also, the idea that one does not have to be what is normally perceived as "good" at something in order to contribute to a team effort. Very good.

John-Michael said...

"A Ringleader" and yet unable to 'connect' at a level of intimacy and humanity. A concern once expressed by her ... then discarded in favor of "Success." Which she has (in the eyes of her world) attained.

And, as you Dear Lime, know from our discussions, she discarded me, over three years ago, as well. So. I enjoy these now-distant memories. As one would a class year-book.

John-Michael said...

I smile at my enjoyment of your insights Jim, my Dear Friend. For, if She heard those comments, she would retort in anger, "Does EVERYTHING have to MEAN something!?" For, as a 'surface' person who is frustrated and even threatened by all things 'meaningful,' she did issue that quoted statement in angry response to one of my many attempts to open her awareness of life's deeper significances. Alas!

Thank you SulDog, for your wise and gentle thoughts. I love You.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

John-Michael, I love the story and how you tell it.
Peace, Judi

John-Michael said...

Thank You, Judi. I am glad that you like this bit of reflection. It seems that when a chunk of emotion is involved ... brevity is handy.

Lovingly ...

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