Mother's column – mom + dad = children with favourite sums
"Look, Mummy!" Church is over, and Jolijn proudly waves a paper in front of me. "These are my sermon notes!" Of course, I want to take a closer look. Would she have picked up anything from the sermon?
I read what she wrote down: 5+5=10, 10x10=100, 2+2=4, 4+4=8, 8+8=16... Next to it is a drawing of a collection bag with a coin floating above it. "Because Daddy said I should also write something about the church service", she says.
"Dad is absolutely right", I respond. "But you've done some lovely sums, though." "Yes," she says radiantly, "five plus five is my favourite sum. Because I also have ten fingers."
Apparently, that's what you get when you marry a maths student: children with favourite sums. And with a great fascination for numbers. When I read to Reinout from a picture book and ask him what he thinks of the story, he might very well say: "Not so much fun, because I didn't see any page numbers anywhere."
I myself liked maths in secondary school, but this obsessive love for numbers is something I don't recognise. After all, my love for language is deeper. However, like a mother should, I try to connect with the children in a way which fits their interests. Hence, numbers are never far away in our conversations at the dinner table. If the children are having a bit of trouble eating, it helps, for instance, to count the bites or to promise a sum after each carrot eaten.
Martha is the only one who does not need motivation to empty her plate. After finishing her meal, she usually has to wait a while before the rest of the family is done. But today, there is no time to get bored for her, as Jan is explaining in detail what cube roots are. Meanwhile, I think up a new series of sums for Jolijn, who, as always, has a lot of bites to go yet.
By the end of the meal, my mathematical inspiration runs out. A bit corny, I say: "And Jolijn plus Reinout is..." Jolijn can even think of an answer to that sum, too: "playing nicely together". That is actually quite funny. Let's add two more family members. For the sake of privacy, I won't say which two are in the sum, as the outcome is "arguing". Fortunately, multiple answers are correct in this assignment.
Jolijn's plate is almost empty now, so there is time for one last sum. "What is daddy plus mummy?" I ask. Jolijn thinks for a moment and then says with sparkling eyes: "Love!" My heart melts. As of today, I have my very own favourite sum.
Neline is married and the mother of five: Martha (9), Abel (7), Jolijn (5), Reinout (3) and Sifra (1).
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