Throughout my young childhood, my mother was very eager to make me study basic math, believing that it would make my life at school easier if I mastered this single subject. She started her official lesson when I was about four. Every afternoon, before I could go to play with my friends, she would make me sit for an hour over a math workbook she had bought at a bookstore and made me solve a few questions.
I used to hate this part of my day. First of all, whatever was written in the workbook didn’t interest me, and it was torturous for me to have to sit for an hour staring at a thing that I didn’t like nor understand when all I wanted to do was to go out and play with my friends.
But the worse part was that whenever I didn’t make the desired progress, my mother would really get mad at me and start saying mean things to me. Sometimes, that would develop into a nasty fight between us – me crying and throwing a bad tantrum while my mother shouted at me. A few times, it even developed into an overnight fight between us. Even as a child, I thought it was incredible how an innocent activity like working on math questions could lead into such dreadful emotional fights between us. For me, this afternoon study time was like walking on a landmine due to this possibility of a long battle with my mother.
One afternoon, I was again having a tantrum over my math assignment. I hadn’t been making a good progress and my mother’s mood was getting ominous. I felt gloomy at the prospect of another fight after having come out of a particularly long one only recently.
Just then, a thunder roared outside. As I looked, there was another lightning followed by a thunder and it started raining heavily. It was as if the weather had reflected what was happening between me and my mother. I sighed and turned my eyes back to my boring math question, trying my best to look like I was thinking hard.
But to my surprise, my mother wasn’t paying attention to me. She walked over to the glass door leading to our tiny balcony and beckoned me.
“Come, Sweetie,” her voice was kind. “How about sitting here and watching the thunderstorm together?”
Happy to be released from my daunting assignment, I sat next to my mother in front of the open balcony door and gazed at the dramatic lightning in the sky.
We were both mostly quiet as we watched it. But as the brief storm came to an end and the sunlight started to come back behind the clouds, my mother held my shoulder and said,
“This was fun, wasn’t it?”
I was actually very surprised that she would say such a thing in the given context, but nonetheless, I eagerly nodded and said back to her.
“Yes, it was really fun!”
After that, we both slowly went back to the table where my open math workbook was waiting. But somehow, the air had lightened up, and there was no more shouting or screaming. And soon, I finished my daily quota and went out to play with my friends.