Miniature Mathematical Genius: Will my son end up being an accountant?

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Just before the Boy was born, I remember the Husband and I were out having a curry one night and we talked about our hopes and dreams for our son: the kind of parents we wanted to be and all the mistakes other parents made that we were obviously never going to replicate.

One of the things we talked about was: what do you think he might want to be when he grows up? We started off daydreaming about our son taking our own roads-not-travelled. Maybe, my husband thought, he’ll study military history. Or maybe, I mused, he will learn lots of languages and become a diplomat.

“But you know,” my husband cautioned, “we have to be prepared for the fact that he might be very different from us. We want to support him whatever he chooses to do in life.”

“Yes,” I nodded fervently, ever the tolerant Dutch-person. “Even if he wants to do sports.”

We grinned. We both hate sports.

“Maybe he’ll want to study Chemistry!” I suggested.

We tittered. Chemistry, how dull.

“You never know,” my husband said, scratching around now for something utterly outrageous, something no sensible arty-farty parent could ever support, “he might want to become an accountant.

How we laughed, dear reader.

Fast forward three years, and my husband has just picked up our son from pre-school. I am at work. Inspired by this fact, they are having a conversation about work, and at the Boy’s suggestion that perhaps he could do some work my husband starts explaining that you have to be a bit older. Some people start work at sixteen, some at eightteen, some at twenty-one…

The Boy nods sagely.  “When I am be twenty-one, I go to work.”

The Husband: “And what kind of work would you like to do?”

The Boy, without hesitation: “Numbers.”

“Would you like to tell other people about numbers, or do you want to do numbers by yourself?”

Again, the Boy is ready with his answer: “Numbers by myself”.

You guessed it. The Boy really does want to be an accountant.

It’s not surprising really, because he just loves numbers. Nothing fascinates him more. They are his friends, they make the world exciting and comforting at the same time. I recently went to an information morning about how Maths is taught in primary schools these days and we were given some handouts that the children might get in school: pages full of number lines and multiplication squares and rulers. I knew I would have a very happy boy when I got home and I was not wrong. We put all the handouts in a special folder for the Boy’s “Work” and now he likes to get it out importantly and pore over the Pages of Joy.

Maths - the Boy is in heaven

The love affair started almost as soon as he could talk. The Boy could count to ten fairly flawlessly before he was two, and has since moved on to bigger and better things. He now startles teachers and hairdressers by counting to 100, simply to amuse himself. In fact, he can count to one hundred in English and in Dutch. A few months ago he still had some interference issues, as in Dutch you say “three and twenty” where in English it would be “twenty-three”. This would sometimes cause alarm when he was reading out my friend J’s digital speedometer on the way to pre-school and confidently announce that it said “Eighty-two!” (I should just stress, for the benefit of my friend’s husband who is a police officer, that it really was the Boy’s error and she was doing a very conservative 28 mph).

However, he seems to be on top of the distinction now and doesn’t swap the numbers around any more. He has become quite enamoured of finding big numbers and will announce with glee that he loves me “one hundred”, and when entering a room full of people he will say in a (rather loud) awed voice: “There are thousands of them!”

At just over two years old he amazed me by taking a piece of chalk and writing the numbers from one to ten on the pavement as we walked along. He has been practising and perfecting this skill ever since. Last week I was sitting next to him at the table doing some work and he was busy with paper and a pen. I looked over and he had done this:

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It turned out to be a plan for the day, which he explained: “Step 1: Go to the moon. Step 2: Go to Nediland [The Netherlands]. Step 3: Go back home. Step 4: Is a surprise.”

Really, everything to do with maths is exciting to him. He loves going round with my tape measure to measure things and likes to spot shapes where ever we go. “Look Mummy, a trapezium!” he shouts from the back seat of the car, pointing at my rear view mirror. It’s only a matter of time, we think, before he’ll start adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and calculating the decay rate of gamma radiation in preparation for the nuclear apocalypse.

The other day in the car he was again musing on what life would be like when he was older. “Next week is my birthday!” he said. (It wasn’t) “And then I be 4, and then I be 5, and then I be 6…” (This was where I tuned out for a while.) “…and then I be 21 and I go to work…” The counting continued with this addition (“and then I be 43 and I go to work, and then I be 44 and I go to work”) until he arrived at: “…and then I be one hundred!”

“Well, when you’re 100 you won’t have to work,” I said. “You can have a nice rest.”

“Yes! Then I can have a nice rest.

I quickly switched the radio on at this point, to ensure that we did, just for a moment, have a nice rest from the counting. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of his skills, but let’s face it: (ac)counting is a bit boring.

All the numbers had to come into the kitchen at Opa & Oma's house to join in with lunch.

All the numbers had to come into the kitchen at Opa & Oma’s house to join in with lunch.

This is what Play Doh was made for

This is what Play Doh was made for. Outside the frame the line goes on to twenty…

All linked up to the first ever Loud ‘n Proud linky!

3 Children and It

11 responses

  1. Fabulous post Judith! My Boy is very similar – have no idea where he gets it from! He is already ahead of his sister who is 3 school years above him! It must be a boy thing. I can’t believe he could write numbers at such a young age though, you should definitely nurture his gift. Although I agree that there could be no duller job than an accountant!

    • Maybe it is a boy thing, as you say. Perhaps boys like things to be clear and factual and girl’s love communicating. We’ll see what the Girl does! She is already shouting back at Team Umizoomi with a randomised selection of numbers that bear no relation to the question asked. (“Naaaaaaain! Siiiiiiik! Eiiiiight!)

  2. Amazing! He’s obviously got a real talent. Lovely that he’s so interested in it (even if it is a little bit boring!). It’s funny how our kids can turn out so different from us and be their own person. I’ve got a little mathematician too, but I don’t think he was showing an aptitude at quite such a young age. He was all about the language until he started school, now he’s awesome at both! He loves to find the most complicated ways of working things out and always loads of different techniques to check and double-check his answers.

    • I think the Boy is going to think he’s died and gone to heaven when he starts school and there will be whole periods of time entirely devoted to manipulating numbers! Nice that you’ve got a mathematician too! I suppose it does run in the family, as my Dad is a statistician and my brother studied Astronomy. Perhaps the gene is latent in me…

  3. This sounds quite a lot like my son who knew what a Googol was when he was 5. In Reception when asked to count for as long as he could the Teacher said he got to 1000 before she stopped him! He is currently studying Electronic Engineering…so numbers don’t have to be Accounting!

    • Haha brilliant! And yes, thankfully there are more options for Doing Numbers by yourself than just accounting. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Boy does!

  4. Must be a boy thing, Jamie is apparently “gifted” in maths, but he’s more into patterns and relationships rather than the numbers per se.

  5. Aww bless, accounting is a good job for life though so its not that bad a job, but still a little boring. My sons nearly 2 so that him numbers are something you try to eat lol.

  6. The boy has found his vocation! Quite an achievement for one so young🙂 It’s great that he is so at home with numbers though and is nurturing his passion, and that you and the Husband are able to put your parenting philosophy of supporting your children’s aspirations, whatever they may be, into practice😉

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