Though it happens to me nearly every day, I never know exactly when one will strike. The grocery store? The park? Lying awake in bed at night? I speak, of course, of the dreaded Math Attack.
Most recently, I was standing at the counter at Wendy's, waiting on some cheese fries, when I noticed the automatic change dispenser. Specifically, I noticed that there were three towers of pennies, but only two of each other coin denominations. My mind started whirring: Why were there more sections for pennies? Is it because the pennies are thicker? No, that's not right, nickels are thickest. If you get change back, are you more likely to get pennies than anything else? What is the greatest number of pennies you can get back in a single transaction? Why I am I thinking about this?
My food arrived, and my questions went unanswered, except the last one. I know what, or rather who, is responsible for my constant compulsion to see the world through a math-tinted lens. That would be the Doctor of Math, otherwise known as my father.
In a world of math-haters, I am an anomaly, and my dad is almost entirely to blame. The man does math problems for fun. He recently stopped a game of Farkle to compute the odds of failing to score any points on the first roll (very, very low, in case you are wondering). I am an honorary member of his college's math club, whose t-shirt reads i2- Keepin' it real. Don't get it? Don't worry. You are surely not alone. I hear that other people call their dads to rehash the latest sport scores. I call mine because I learned a new way to do long division. (I'm telling you, the partial quotients method is where it's at.)
The challenge for me now is to figure out how to pass on this love of all things mathematical to my own kids. Sure, they are a bit young, and my son's favorite number is currently eleventeen, but he has a favorite book, so why not a favorite polygon? (I myself am partial to the rhombus.) Fortunately for my children, their Papa will be more than happy to initiate them into the numerical world. It won't be long before they, too, will fall prey to the joy that is a Math Attack.