#26 I, Isabel Scheherazade have a math moment that rocks, really rocks. And it has to do with that “Dad Makes Scrumptious Brownies” long division trick and Mom and how laughter can wash out almost-crying. And magic?
Back in my classroom I need to do a long division with remainders assignment, but the I want Mommy incident slows me down. So, robot-like, I write my name and date on the top right corner. Then I read the first word problem and Ka Boom!! sun floods out sad, and I chuckle. Here’s why.
At the end of 3rd grade (last year) the teacher starts us on long division, and it’s clear as mud. When I get home that day and tell Mom I don’t get it!! she pats the couch cushion next to her and says, Come sit. She flips to a new page in her notebook. I’ll show you a trick.
She licks the tip of her pencil and writes “Dad. Makes. Scrumptious. Brownies.” Remember this sentence she tells me. Then she underlines the first letter of each word. These first letters remind you what to do in what order. D for Divide. M for Multiply. S for subtract, and B for bring down. Watch.
Camels are the main mode of transportation in the desert. (Mom loves making up stories about exotic places.) They get very thirsty. So, at the oasis, Mom pauses to sketch a little pool of water surrounded by camels and palm trees, at the oasis, a camel drinks twenty-six gallons of water in ten minutes, how many gallons can it drink in one minute? This is important for a camel driver to know, just in case he needs to jump on his camel after only a minute of drinking. She points to the words. So: Dad. Makes. Scrumptious. Brownies. Divide. Multiply. Subtract. Bring down. Answer? 2.6 gallons.
She hands me the pencil. Here. You do it.
I write D.M.S.B on the top of the page, lick my pencil tip, and use it to climb up and over the I’ll-Never-Learn-Long-Division wall.
Let me hop out of this way-back-seat memory into the front-seat of my classroom and what I see on the math paper:
A caravan of six camels is carrying 348 pounds of exotic rice to Egypt. The rice has been divided equally. Each camel carries the same amount of rice. What size is each camel’s load?
(I mean, really!! Mom? Are you hovering around here, giving my teacher ideas for math problems?)
I write out 348 divided by 6. I whisper: Dad and divide 34 into 6; makes and multiply 5 times 6; scrumptious and subtract 30 from 36; brownies and bring down the 8. I stare at the 48, think Dad Makes Scrumptious Brownies, and start the process again. Answer: 58.
A. Ma. Zing. A coincidence? Or magic?