I can’t do math. I’m not kidding.
I was the kid who spent his summers with a math tutor while the other kids were out counting their home runs on the makeshift neighborhood baseball diamond.
Admitting that you can’t do something is not easy, especially for a guy. But recently, I learned that my inability to make any sense of numbers has a name: Dyscalculia.
I love the fact that they gave a learning disability for math, a name that has to absolutely drive dyslexics crazy.
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, “Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math. There is no single type of math disability. Dyscalculia can vary from person to person. And, it can affect people differently at different stages of life.”
Well, that clears that up.
All I know is that if I see a math equation, it looks like gibberish. But, if you attach something to the numbers, such as gallons, miles or cans, it makes perfect sense.
So, that’s how my tutors helped me work around my problem.
“If Johnny has 10 apples, and Billy takes five of Johnny’s apples, how many apples does Johnny have left?” The answer of course is that Johnny still has 10 apples. Because, in Arkansas where I grew up, if Billy had tried to take five of Johnny’s apples, he would’ve needed stitches.
My mother was adamant when it came to education. You don’t pass, you don’t play. “You’ll need math in every aspect of your life,” she would say. “Pfffft,” I thought. “That’s just what mothers tell you when you beat up Billy for taking your apples.”
However, my mother was right.
When my wife and I were dating, she showed up at my apartment one day and found me struggling to balance my checkbook. My wife, who is far smarter than most people I’ve met, said, “It can’t be that difficult.” “OK,” I said. “I tell you what. I’ve worked on this for two hours and can’t figure it out. You fix this, and I’ll clean the gutters on your house.”
She fixed it in 10 minutes, and I spent three hours on the roof of her house cleaning the gutters.
So, remember kids, moms are always right. Listen to them. Do your homework and learn it while you’re young. And even if you’re like me, old with Dyscalculia, it’s never too late to learn your way around a barrier.
Just don’t take any of Johnny’s apples.
For more of John’s musings, visit johnmoore.net/blog.