Megan, who turns 9 in a month, fancies herself as quite the teacher. The other day, she wrote out a math quiz for me to take with simple addition and subtraction problems. Not wanting our teaching session to end too early, I got the last question wrong. 1 + 1 = 1. I asked for an explanation for how my answer could be wrong. How can ones make anything other than ones? And the playful sparring (aka: exasperating) began.
Megan: OK. Pretend you have one cookie.
Dad: What kind of cookie is it?
Megan: Chocolate chip, but that’s not importa…
Dad: How many chocolate chips?
Dad: So what you’re saying is I have seven chocolate chips.
Megan: No. What I’m saying is you have one cookie.
Dad: How big is the cookie?
Megan: Ummm. It’s about the size of this plate. (she holds up the small dessert plate that recently held her cream-cheese bagel)
Dad: That’s a big cookie. And it ONLY has seven chocolate chips?
Megan: OK fine. There are 20 chocolate chips on the cookie.
Dad: On the cookie or in the cookie?
Megan: In the cookie. And now – let’s pretend Kyra walks up to you.
Dad: What’s she wearing?
Megan: Blue jeans, blue sweater (pause) and a blue t-shirt underneath. (giggling)
Kyra: … and blue underwear (more giggling)
Dad: Why is she wearing all blue?
Megan: (more giggling) I don’t know. Maybe she’s just feeling blue today. (continuing) And she walks up to you and …
Dad: What am I wearing?
Megan: (by this point, the giggling has grown to a full-on laugh. Her words are sputtered more than spoken) You’re wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt.
Dad: And socks?
Megan: Umm … yes. And socks.
Dad: And a cap?
Megan: Umm … sure. And Kyra walks up to you with another cookie.
Dad: What kind of cookie is it?
Megan: It’s a chocolate chip cookie just like yours.
Dad: How big is it?
Megan: (thinking) Umm … let’s say it’s a little smaller than yours. (continuing) And pretend that she gives you her cookie. How many cookies do you have?
Dad: Well, I guess I’d have one and a half cookies since hers is smaller than mine.
Megan: (laughing) No … just pretend her cookie is the exactly the same as yours.
Dad: Exactly the same? That’d be weird.
Megan: Well, maybe not exactly the same but they’re close enough.
Dad: OK. So we both have cookies that are almost the same. I’m hungry. Can I eat my cookie?
Megan: (giggling) Umm… sure. And pretend that Kyra gives you her cookie. How many cookies would you have?
Megan: No – you’d have two.
Dad: No – because you said I ate my cookie.
Megan: Well … how many cookies did you have?
Dad: One. I had my cookie and ate it. And then I had Kyra’s cookie. I only ever had one cookie.
Megan: (more giggling. runs over to the kitchen counter and grabs my sunglasses in one hand and mom’s sunglasses in another) OK. Forget the cookies. Let’s say I have one pair of sunglasses.
Dad: a pair of sunglasses? So you have two sunglasses.
Megan: (giggling) Ummm … no. (thinking) ok, say I have one … sunglasses.
Dad: One sunglasses? I don’t understand.
Megan: (more giggling. puts down the sunglasses and runs to the living room and carries back with her two throw pillows from our couch). OK. Forget the cookie and the sunglasses. Let’s say I have one pillow.
Dad: But you have two pillows.
Megan: (throwing one of the pillows back into the living room). OK. I have one pillow. This pillow right here. See?
Dad: Yes. I see you have one pillow.
Megan: (to Kyra) Pass me the pillow! (Kyra throws the pillow from the living room back into the kitchen). Now, how many pillows do I have?
Megan: (laughing with GREAT relief). YES! See! One plus one equals two.
(NOTE: the accuracy of this post was verified by Megan before publishing.)