To see eye to eye with a kid, get a third eye.

When the problem you are trying to solve is not the right problem.

Feb 3, 2015, India

About a year back, my kid who was a pre-teen then, asked me for help in maths. Seems she was day dreaming in class, and had fallen behind. I said yes, as high school maths is for me still in the logical puzzle, fun zone.

My daughter is an only kid, and tends to look at me as an older brother who must be put up with. Rather than a worldly-wise Dad that I would be prefer to be seen as. So when this maths thing came up, these issues bubbling below the surface popped up.

The maths problems were the usual brain twisters. Something like a box having 84 balls in blue and yellow colours in the ratio of 3:4, and 12 more yellow balls being added to the box, and the question being how many blue balls must be put in so the ratio changes to 6:5. That kind of stuff!

I tell her that I need a few minutes to figure it out. She wants to know why a person who has passed out of university needs time to figure out a high school problem. I somehow hold it together, and try to work out the logic.

She interrupts to inform me that she has a better method, and will figure it out herself. Something about product of the extremes. A few minutes later, she gets stuck again. She calls for help again, and insists I do the problem her way. There’s more friction and tears of frustration flow.

Later, my wife and I discuss the issue, and consider sending her for maths tuitions. But my wife recalls that she got her love of maths from her Dad. So she volunteers to take on the task of teaching maths. More tears follow.

After a few months of this, the kid begins to hate maths. We give up and send her to a coaching class or tuition. Her teacher there is a 20 year old college going kid. They seem to get along well, and I step out of the picture.

Fast forward to a conversation a couple of months later when she confides in me that maths is actually fun, like a puzzle! I’m not sure she’s pulling my leg, but wisely decide to hold my tongue.

A few days later, she asks for my help again. She’s been to her coaching class but there’s a maths class test coming up, and she needs to spend a bit more time on the subject.

It’s a similar kind of maths problem, and she seems to be doing it the longer, harder way. I’m sure there’s a shorter way, and ask her why she didn’t ask her teacher to show her that way. She replies that she did, and the teacher said that she herself, needed more time to figure out the shorter way.

I’m tempted to remind her of her reply when I had said the same thing, but silence is golden.

Moral of the Story: If your kid has a problem with you, removing emotions from the equation may lead to a solution.

it’s an odd world

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