Thursday, September 1, 2011

Counting by Trillions

How many zeros in a trillion?

 This has nothing to do with the national debt.  It has to do with skip counting: what modern education calls counting by twos, fives, tens, etc.

Jonah, little ball of brilliance though he is, had a really hard time learning to count by twos.  Wailing, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth.  A typical school day, really.  And, as usual, he seemed to think it was my fault, like I invented the idea or something.

He often acts as though the things I teach him aren't really important, just chosen arbitrarily and capriciously by me to torment him. (Like I have time for that.)  Or, maybe he just thinks they are hard, and he needs an excuse for all the dramatics he uses to avoid them.  In an attempt to further his point, he test me.  If this is so important, let's see if Mom knows it. 

"Mom?  Can you count by 2's?"

"Yes.  You know I can.  I have been counting with you all day."

"Can you count by hundred's?"


"Well, do it then."

"100, 200, 300..." and so on, I counted to one thousand.  Thwarted, but not satisfied, he continued.

"Can you count by a trillion?"  It was clearly a dare. 

"One trillion, two trillion, three trillion..."  I began to wonder when I could stop.  What comes after a trillion?  And how many trillions does it take to get there?  What was that going to be like?  "Two hundred million trillion, three hundred million trillion..."  My mind boggled.  I didn't have all day to stand in my kitchen counting by a trillion to prove something to my six year old.  Somewhere around twenty trillion, my counting trailed off.

"Why did you stop?"

"Well, I..."  I started to explain to him, what I just explained to you.  But, I didn't get very far.

"I guess you aren't so smart after all," he said, and he kind of wonder away.

"Maybe not,"  I hollered after him.  "But at least I can skip count by two,"

Okay, no, I didn't.  But I did get to show off my skip counting skills for the rest of the week while we practiced and practiced and practiced, until he was ready to kill me, or get it right.  He got it right.  And, he was so proud of himself.

The hardest won victories are the sweetest. 

Now, onto telling time.  I anticipate more first.  I"ll let you know how it turns out.


  1. hahaha! the product of 2 lawyers ;) So funny!

  2. Your school sounds really fun! I wanna come over and try to outsmart your kids for brain-exercise. I expect to lose - but it is good for my aged mind to exercise it by skipping.... LOL... you crack me up!

  3. smiling...loved that conversation and good for him to finally get it.

    Did I already say I love your knew photo? It's gorgeous! :)

  4. Trillions scare me, lol. Good on him for his tenacity and for getting it!

  5. I remember those days! One of my kids was so good at math that he'd get the lesson before I finished explaining it. I was learning so much from the math program I'd say, "Give me a break! I'm only in grade 3!"

  6. I remember those days, too. Oh, right...they're not over. I'm still checking reading workbooks and hounding my two older daughters to complete a vocabulary workbook. Gotta do well on those SATs. :)

    Tell Jonah he's not the only one with "those pushy parents." :)

    Telling time - good luck with that. Again, I passed each of mine a work book, and voila! Okay, I did have to help here and there.