The math discussion at our house is interesting this morning. The conversation went something like this.

The oldest says, “Mom, I understand by now that when doing story problems I am not supposed to pay attention to the actual story, but they could make it somewhat realistic.”

He goes on to read me the problem. “Dinah is in a quandary. She has only 1/2 cup of white sugar, and the recipe calls for 3/4 cup of white sugar. How much brown sugar must she use if 1 cup of brown sugar is equivalent to 3/4 cup of white sugar?”

He continues, “This is the dumbest problem. Why make the recipe at all? It isn’t going to taste the same. Brown sugar and white sugar have different tastes. And then if you are going to substitute and you know that 1 cup is equivalent to the 3/4 cup that you need, why use the white sugar at all? I mean, really, the taste is going to change anyway. Just use the brown sugar and be done with it. But no, they want me to make some problem that requires the use of both sugars. So ridiculous.”

I say, “Quit overthinking the problem and just do it. Sheesh. It is like those problems that talk about airline tickets which cost $25. We all know that airline tickets don’t cost $25 for anyone.”

He says, “Yeah, but that was for 5th grade math. 5th graders don’t care about that stuff.”

I say, “You did.”

He says, “I am just saying. This is dumb.”

He went on to get the “dumb” problem right.

My girl pipes in, “Oh! Oh! I have a riddle for you. A man has two coins that total 30 cents. One of them is not a nickel. What are the coins?’

(cue Jeopardy theme song)

We all thought about this for a minute. I am happy to say that I figured it out. Freckle Face and Mr. Literal struggled with it for awhile. Eventually, after I encouraged them to think outside of the box, they figured it out. “It isn’t a math problem, boys! It is a riddle. Think about it.”  Ohhhh….

Overthinking the problem.