I was always beyond crap at maths. Forced into a set that was higher than my level at 11, forced to take it early because, taking English Lit and English Lang early, I was evidently just pretending to find numbers scarily meaningless, and forced to fail O Level. Then forced to fail GCSE a record 6 times. Yes, 6. Finally, entirely lacking in confidence, and needing the magic C grade to become a teacher despite having a degree and a postgraduate degree, (because, you know, marking history essays means you need to be able to balance algebraic equations) I enrolled in an evening class with no hope whatsoever once I saw the class, who were (maths coming up) 70% disaffected East London youth, 20% employees forced onto the course, and 10% sadly numerically deficient weirdos. (I just did those percentages on my fingers). Luckily for me, the teacher was a genius with one arm, a drink problem and a haphazard knowledge of the bars of Camden as well as a bit of an idea about fractions. We got on. I finally "got" algebra after a mammoth drinking session and many scribbled beermats. I got a B. Then I became a teacher and I never used maths again. Ever. It doesn't come into Napoleonic Warfare much.
But the last months has been maths hell. This is because the children are horrible little beasts who cannot bear the thought of the other one having a teeny tiny bit more than them. This is the reason that other peoples' children run out of playgroup screaming "mummy!" with a look of delight on their faces and mine comes out to face his sister and ask "Has she had anything?" while she blurts triumphantly "I had a BISCUIT!", the having of the biscuit that he did not have being far tastier than the actual biscuit was. And so it is, that this month I have been mostly measuring. Drink depths, slices of pizza, any foodstuff at all. Measuring with a stopwatch who was fastest, who went furthest, who made the longest play-dough sausage. The distance jumped, the height reached. Who is tallest (she's always going to lose). Who ate the most, or the least. They lay there at night shout-whispering to each other "I'M going to go to sleep first!" "No, I AM!" It reached its' apogee this week when I was called upon to judge who had done the biggest poo. It was at that point that I flipped and did something terrible to the tape measures and rulers. Since then, I have been given the top tip that one child cuts the cake/pizza, and the other gets first choice of slices. This works until you realise that you need a tally chart to keep track of who has done the choosing/cutting, at which point they fight over it. My cousins' wife, who also did the remarkably rash thing of having children too close together, reminded me that this competativeness is what drove her now noticeably good young adults to succeed and do well. Unfortunately for me, my two couldn't care less about competing to do well. But who's got the biggest poo, well, that's a competition they've GOT to win.
And then more numbers for me. This time, the numbers of my blood test. My last visit to the endocrinologist went something like this:
Me: I know that my TSH is surpressed and so it comes "under" the average range, but i'm feeling quite well now, could you leave me alone?
Endo: What? Have you been reading? Numbers? Don't worry your head about them? Of course, now go away and leave me alone to get back to the more interesting diabetics.
End result: endo writes a letter to my GP clearly stating that I am surpressed and overmedicated and cuts my dose by 50mg. Apparently, people my height and weight should only be on such- a-such amount. Well, here's the thing. I am not a whizz at maths, I agree, but even I can see that a range of permissable blood readings must be taken from a wide range of people and is, even then, only a guide to the possible healthy readings. It is natural and likely that some people will be both above and below that range and be healthy. I am one of them. But as a result of the pathetically inadequate endo, I am now undermedicated, barely able to keep my eyes open and having tremors, weird hair loss again and all the other less lovely hypothyroid thingies. A phonecall to the hospital results in my finding out he is on holiday. For four weeks. I'm to be seen at the end of March. This time, I am taking with me my old , weighty, GCSE maths textbook, and will carefully point out the chapter on averages and ranges to him, before using it to beat him soundly around the head. Failing that, perhaps he would like to come to my house and see quite how difficult it is to measure 4 million things a day when you can't string a senetence together and need a nap every 5 minutes. We could measure his ego.