The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 18, 2014

Murray: Why do I hate math? It's too real

It’s always dangerous when I decide to do math.

Ask anyone. Math isn’t exactly “in my wheelhouse.”

Ever since my daughter was in about the fourth grade, I ceased being able to offer any meaningful help to her as she did her math homework, what with all the fractions and percentages and algorithms. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s more that at an early age I realized I simply don’t like how brutally true math can be. So I think my brain, being more attuned to abstracts and approximations, led me away from it at every possible turn.

The result: I suck at it.

Well, either way, I was faced recently with some pretty sobering math to do, the kind every parent will eventually do, whether it’s early in their children’s lives or, like me, later. Much later.

Many years ago, I imagine there was a day when I sat in an armchair with an infant daughter in my arms and I pondered the far, far distant future. Chances are many of you have done the same. And when you did this, you probably did some quick figuring and realized that the little bundle of joy you hold in your arms won’t be there forever, but she will be there for a long time.

How long?

About 18 years if you do your job right and prepare them to take off to conquer the world with their hearts brave and intellects sharp. That’s when they leave the house, head off to college or some other endeavor.

And as the years go on, you might revisit that math you did when that child lay asleep, angelic and silent, in your arms. You go through all those milestones and tears and accomplishments and, along each step, realize you’re getting closer to that day when they’re about to leave. But it never really hits you because, you know, there are still years of fun to be had between now and the time they shove off on their own.

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