As bedtime approached last night, my son casually mentioned a story problem from his algebra homework that had stumped him. He related the problem to me, and it was like a scene from Numb3rs: I could SEE the variables and their relationships, as if they were floating in the air before me. (Note: this has never happened before. Ever.)
My son wandered off to brush his teeth, and I scrambled for paper and pencil and began frantically writing down mathematical equations, afraid I would somehow lose them. (This also has never happened before.) When he came back, I handed the paper to him and went to deal with some laundry. His father took an interest, and I could hear the two of them puzzling over what I had written. I called down the hall words that I swear have never before crossed my mind, let alone my lips: “You need to set up a binomial equation.”
Where the heck did THAT come from? I can’t remember where I put my keys not five minutes before, but stuff I all but flunked over 30 years ago spontaneously pops into my brain? As dementia closes in and other faculties fade, am I becoming some kind of mathematical idiot savant?
Maybe I should sign up for some math courses at the community college…
(By the way, they were able to solve the problem by following my suggestions, though they resorted to using a calculator. Wimps.)