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In My Opinion

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Second grade math tells a fraction of the story

By Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis
Tracy Lee Curtis is a humorist, writer and speaker. She writes family humor for the Charlotte Observer. Her column appears each Sunday.

My little boy plops down at the kitchen counter and asks if I can help with his math. He begins …

“Each of three girls is on exactly one team. One is on the field hockey team, another is on the swimming team and the third is on the track team. Ann is not on the swimming team. The girl on the track team lives near Ann. The girl on the swimming team and Betty are in the same class. What team is Carol on?”

What are you talking about? That’s not math, that’s English. If it were math, it’d have numbers in it. And really, it’s not even English, it’s gossip, no doubt being passed around by a bunch of moms who have nothing better to do.

“What team is Carol on?” It’s none of my business! I’m sure she’s on the team of the sport she loves to play and that she’s doing her thing. I HAVE a life, I don’t need to be all up in Carol’s.

“Each of the three girls is on exactly one team.” I’m sure they are. I’m sure their moms are friends and they all got together and agreed that each child should do one sport to better focus on school, friends and family, and not be torn between their many fabulous talents. Which translates into three moms who don’t want to drive all over town all week.

“Ann is not on the swimming team.” What’s up with that? Sounds like there’s a story there. She didn’t make it? Or did her mom forget to register online? I don’t know, but it seems like it was definitely worth mentioning, so I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing Ann swimming anytime, anywhere soon.

“The girl on the track team lives near Ann.” So why aren’t they carpooling? Those two should be doing the same sport, since they’re both not swimming. (I’m now thinking Ann is afraid of the water or something.) Regardless, neighbors need to all do the same thing. Trust me, we’ve got five blocks of kids in my hood all playing soccer.

“The girl on the swimming team and Betty are in the same class.” Oh, OK, so they’re probably besties, because everybody knows your best friends are your classmates and not the most convenient choice of the child who lives nearby.

I feel sorry for Ann. She doesn’t have a friend in her class and she can’t swim. Kids are so mean and people just need to mind their own business. All this speculation about who’s doing what and where and with whom is not good for anyone. And so I tell my son this one is bigger than us, and that this is a problem we are just not going to be able to solve.

He looks at me wide-eyed. And slowly slides his books off the counter.

“Think I’ll just ask Dad …”

tcurtis@charlotteobserver.com
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