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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Math Geek Mom: Things They Will Never Do

Changes that are good (and to be hoped for).

April 21, 2016

Central to the study of Calculus and much of Science is the examination of how things change over time. Indeed, “comparative statics” also plays an important role in Economics, where the way things are (such as a combination of price and output at any time) are compared with the way things were (such as a combination of price and output at an earlier time.) I found myself thinking of this recently when I came across an article that listed some things that kids today will never do. As I read through the list, I found myself agreeing with many of the things listed, and was sad that my daughter will never do some of the things listed. Or will she?

The list includes things such as “play on a dangerous piece of playground equipment,” which reminds me of how I thought that everything in the playground was dangerous when my daughter was much younger and more fragile. I remember how I did my best to keep her from sliding down a pole that was made to resemble the pole in a fire station, until she matter-of-factly walked up to it and slid down, completely without my approval. I know that we still have a VCR player (that includes a CD player,) and that I have an old record player that includes a tape player in it. And while she will never “roam the neighborhood in a pack of wild children,” there was a day not long ago when she would walk outside and could always be sure of finding other children to play with, and would always be welcome as a playmate by those neighborhood buddies. She may not want to type on a typewriter, but I have one that she is welcome to use, should she want to. Recalling the old applications to college, a typewriter was really the only way to fill out the pre-printed forms. Indeed, I used it to fill out the application that we submitted to apply to adopt her, years ago. In fact, I really do think that she has taken a Scan Tron exam, although I admit that was quite a while ago. Indeed, she is old enough that she may no longer qualify for being included in the list of people described as “kids today.” Sigh.

As I read the list, I became aware of some other things that I hope that she will never experience. I hope that she does not have to make it to her young adult years living in a city which has not won a sports championship in over fifty years. We gather with her, along with friends and family, this time of year as we hold our breath and hope that that our local professional basketball team might help make such a championship a possibility.

I hope that she will never doubt herself, just because she is smaller than her classmates who are boys and because the voice that she speaks in is higher pitched than is theirs. And I hope that she will never feel the need, as I did, many years ago, to sign her work with only her first initial, so as to prevent the editor of a journal from knowing that she is a woman. I was reminded of this when a colleague told me of a student who had cited one of my papers in work for his class had referred to “R. Emanuele” as “he” and spoke of “his ideas.” Obviously, I had done that in the years before I worked at a woman’s college!

My daughter will probably never use “White-out,” and will most likely never swelter in the car on a hot summer day, with the windows rolled down, hoping for some relief. And I hope that my daughter lives to see the day that words like “cancer” and “AIDS” no longer send shivers down the spines of so many people. Overall, I hope that she can live her life able to fulfill her wildest dreams, whatever they may be.

Are there things that you suspect your children will never do, and things that you hope they will never have to do, and why?

                                                                                                Go Cavs!


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