Math Versus Language

There was once a boy named Aidan.  He lived in a small house with his Mom, his Dad, his dog Max, and Quackers, his duck.

Every night, at bedtime, Max tucked Quackers into bed, then Aidan tucked Max into bed, and then his Mom tucked Aidan into bed.


Once his Dad turned off the bedroom light and shut the door, Aidan, Max and Quackers talked about important things like prime numbers and the many types of infinity.  Only when his Mom and Dad came and told them to quiet down, would the three of them drift off to sleep.

Max and Quackers didn’t go to school.  They waited at home while Aidan was gone.  

When he came home each day, he always brought some homework with him.  Sometimes the homework would be math, and they would all rush to get started on it.
But sometimes the homework would be language and they would all groan.  Aidan would get hungry and decide to have a snack.  Max would decide it was time to go out and have a pee.  Quackers would decide to hide in the bathtub.

Eventually, Aidan and his parents would end up having an argument because it would be almost bedtime, and the language homework would still not be done.  Of course, Max and Quackers always sided with Aidan, which made him feel better, but did not help him win the argument against language homework.

Aidan’s Mom tried to bribe him to do his language homework.  She promised him a new duck friend for Quackers, but even though Aidan loved Quackers, language was so, so boring.

Aidan’s Dad tried to bribe Aidan, too.  He promised they could play video games all day on Saturday if Aidan did his language homework, but even though Aidan loved video gaming with his Dad, language was too, too boring.

Christmas came and went, as well as Valentine’s Day and March Break.  The arguments kept on happening, and everyone in the house dreaded the days Aidan brought home language homework.  April came, and it was Easter.  Aidan raced through the house to find all the eggs before Max and Quackers could gobble them down.

When he came to the last room in the house, he dropped his egg basket, and jumped up and down.  In the middle of the kitchen table, sat a new duck.

The duck quacked loudly, and Max and Quackers came running to see who had made such a loud noise.  The new duck started to flap his wings and dance around the table.  Everyone was looking at him.

Aidan named the new duck Fred.  Now when they went to bed, Quackers started the tucking, with Fred first.

The first night Fred was with them, they talked about prime numbers, the many types of infinity, and isosceles triangles.  
The second night Fred was with them, they talked about pi, prisms and calculus equations.
The third night Fred was with them, just as they started talking about decimals and negative numbers, Fred quacked the loudest quack he had ever quacked in his life.  “What’s the matter?” asked Aiden, Max and Quackers.
“Math, math, math!” said Fred.  “Why do you talk about math every night?”

The three other boys looked at Fred as if he had just asked them to jump into to a Black Hole.  “Because math is the greatest thing in the world,” said Aidan.

“No, it isn’t,” said Fred.  “Math is great, but what about science and social studies?”

“Okay,” said Aidan, “they are pretty good, too, but without math, they would be nothing.”

And then, Fred said, “what about language?”

Aidan, Max and Quackers started laughing so hard, their pyjama pants started to fall down. 

“Are you crazy?” said Quackers.

Fred ruffled his feathers.  “No, I am not crazy.  Language is just as important as math.”

The three boys laughed so hard, they fell onto their bottoms.

Fred said, “I can prove it.”  The boys stopped laughing.
“Okay,” said Aidan.  “Go ahead.”

Fred said, “donkey, white, one, new.”  
“What?” said Max.

“Park, dinner, party, three,” said Fred.
“What?” said Quackers.

“Problem, hungry, gifts, ten,” said Fred.
“What?” said Aidan.
“See,” said Fred.  “I used numbers every time I said something, but you couldn’t figure out what I was talking about because I didn’t use enough language.  I just told you that one week ago I went to the park and met a donkey.  Then I said I want a white cake at my next birthday party, and I want my new friends to come – that’s you three guys – but you don’t have to bring me any gifts, just come hungry, because there will be at least ten different kinds of food to eat before the cake.  Stories need language, guys.”

“Oh,” said Aidan, Max and Quackers.
Aidan, Max and Quackers still don’t like language homework, but they sure do love the words Fred uses to tell them bedtime stories.  They all have two agreements now.
1) Aidan has to do all his homework, no matter whether it’s math or language, and Max, Quackers and Fred have to help him to always do his best work.
2) After the lights go out, they will always talk about important math stuff first, but then Fred has to tell them a story, using the best language skills he knows.

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