Is Math Dumb?

“Why? ?” Dani cried out. Her mother stopped mixing the salad. She looked at Dani, who was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework.

“What now, mi hija?” Dani’s mother asked.

“I am tired of my math homework. ‘How much is 2 + 3 + 4 + 9?’ This is dumb. Math is dumb.”

Dani’s mom laughed. “It sounds like you could use a break. Let’s go to the store. I need to buy avocados for the salad.”

They walked to the supermarket and went to the vegetables section. Dani picked out two avocados. Mom and daughter got in line to pay.

“Today you are going to pay,” Dani’s mother told her. Dani was surprised. She had never paid for groceries before.

Her mom gave her a $5 bill. “The avocados are $1.50 each. How much will two cost?”

Dani thought. “Three dollars?”

“Right,” said her mom.

When it was their turn, the cashier rang up the avocados. “Three dollars, please,” she said, looking at Dani’s mom. But Dani’s mother shook her head and nodded to her daughter. Dani gave the woman the money. The cashier put the $5 bill inside the register and gave a bill to Dani.

“Did you get the right amount back?” Dani’s mom asked.

Dani looked at the single dollar in her hand. “No, mami,” she responded. “I should have two dollars.”

“That’s right,” said her mom, and smiled at the cashier.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” the woman replied. She reached into the still-open register, took out another dollar, and gave it to Dani.

Dani gave both dollars to her mother. Dani did not see the cashier wink at her mother.

“See what you just did?” her mom asked as they walked out of the store. “Sometimes math is not so dumb.”

“Okay. Sometimes. Maybe.” Dani smiled at her mom and they walked back home.