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Overheard During Homework

Cora: “Mom, it says I have to make up my own subtraction problem. Can I do 8 minus 10?”

Me: “Do you know what the answer will be?”

Cora: “Negative 2. Why?”

Me: “Just making sure – they haven’t taught negative numbers in your class yet, I know.”

Cora: “It’s a negative integer, mom, and I already taught myself. And the homework doesn’t say you have to do something we’ve already learned.”

Me: “Well then, go for it.”

Cora: “Oh, wait – I have to draw a cartoon picture demonstrating it. How am I supposed to draw a cartoon of a negative number?”

At this point Maddie jumps in and begins excitedly brainstorming with Cora all the different ways she could do a cartoon drawing of a negative number problem. After listening to it escalate for five minutes while ideas like a three-dimensional cartoon to show the “absence” of a number were thrown out –

Me: “Cora, maybe you should just stick to positive integers for this.”

Cora: “I suppose so. If you want to make homework boring.”

Someone needs a harder math book.


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