“What comes next?” I asked Joey, holding up the 5 and a 14 number cards. We’d just put down four and were building a long number line. Joey looked me in the eyes, then promptly looked at the number 14. And then burst into a fit of giggles.
Right. The kid knew exactly what he was doing.
“14? 3, 4, 14? Is that how we count?” I acted huffy. “NO… it’s five!”
Joey looked solum as he I handed him the five and together we added it to the number line we were building. He remained calm as we counted the numbers we already had, touching each one to make sure we had one to one correspondence.
“Now, what comes next? 6 or 11?” I asked. Once again Joey burst into laughter. A body-shaking fit of giggles. Apparently 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 was too silly a concept for him. Math jokes.
“I work so hard and drive all the way here and you tell me that we say 4, 5, 11?”
Joey laughed harder.
Joey clearly didn’t understand or care that I was seeing if he could identify the correct numeral in a sequence from a field of two choices. He thought it was hysterical to count incorrectly, or to just give me the wrong answer. Whatever was happening in his mind was funny, and his giggles were contagious.
I tried to keep myself together but it was hard. Every time we got serious he’d look at the incorrect answer and giggle again. Head back, whole body shaking giggles. As though our math work was a comedy routine.
By the time we got to the higher numbers 11 through 15 – Joey was a bit more unsure, and wouldn’t laugh until I’d told him the right answer. Then he’d look at the wrong one. So even though he completely refused to complete my work correctly, I came away with knowing that he can order his numbers 1-10, so now I can target my instruction on the teen numbers (between giggles of course).
Joey can be serious and has been known to say “work” on his device when I arrive because he’s ready to get to it. Sometimes when I try to get us into silly back and forth pretend play experiences he drops the toy, not interested in my games. “Read,” he’ll say in response to my silliness. But math jokes? Yeah – he’s got ‘em.
I love his uncontrollable laughter and his sense of humor, and that once again he found a way of taking my plans and turning them into his own, while still showing me he could complete the task.