Pick a number, divide it by six, then watch a tree fall


I thought we were almost through the impossible questions stage.

I’ve spent many years answering things like –

“Why is air see-though?”

“Do flies have ears?”

“Can God fly?”

And I thought they were getting old enough to realise I don’t know everything.

But no, they still look to me as the fount of all knowledge.
And this one’s a real poser.

“How many numbers are there in a number?” asks Hannah, as she diddles about with her slices of ham.

“Numbers in a number?” I repeat, hoping I’ve misheard the question.
What do they think I am? Some kind of Further Maths geek with a special interest in Physics and Philosophy?

“Yes,” says she, “like 6. There must be lots of numbers in 6. It’s even.”

“Oh,” I say, relieved that a glimmer of understanding has come my way and that I can still attempt a reply that won’t reveal my ineptitude to my children.

“How many numbers go into a number? Like dividing?”

“Ye-es,” she says, in the same tone Ben uses when he says “du-uh.”

“Well, that depends on the number,” I say, playing for time.

“It’s infinite,” says Ben, “You can make the fractions smaller and smaller.”

“Yes,” I say, glad someone knows what they’re talking about.

“What’s infinite?” demands Hannah. And after that’s dealt with, we’re back to square one. Or a number between one and ten.

“So what about 6?” she asks.

And we list the whole numbers that can go into six, as I don’t think she’s up to fractions yet, not without the aid of a cake, and it’s nearly bedtime and I don’t have time to buy or make one.

It’s all my fault. Ben’s learning about sound, so I asked him and his friend the one about the tree falling in the forest when there’s no-one around to hear it.

They disagreed.

Ben thinks you can hear it and his friend thinks you can’t.
Next time Hannah deals me a tough query, I’ll hit her with the silent tree.
It may keep her quietly pondering for long enough to forget her original question.

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
This entry was posted in Beta Mum's Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pick a number, divide it by six, then watch a tree fall

  1. Iota says:

    “But what about 6 trees?” Hannah would ask. (I’m with Ben’s friend, by the way.)

  2. Omega Mum says:

    That boy is bright. Train him up and send him out to work. If you go for a Corgi qualification, I’d have thought he could start by fixing your boiler.

  3. Beta Mum says:

    Iota – never answer a question with a reply that can be questioned.

    OM – funny you should mention the boiler… it’s due for a service.

Leave a Reply