Seven is a number that comes up consistently in my life. I was born in July in the seventies, and am the youngest in a family of seven. There’s many number stories that live in a big family. For example, 5+2=7: Mom, Dad and five kids. 2+3+2=7: Mom, Dad, three girls and two boys. What you are about to read is a tragic tale of number sense at an early age.
My earliest memory of the value of seven came when I was a wee little sprite. I must have been 3 (which is not quite half of seven) and I watched as the other six members of my family left the house and piled into the yellow Ford Country Squire station wagon. Surely there was a reason I was left standing at the door…surely one of them would turn around and see me, hear me, (miss me?). Who knows where they were off to. With that many kids in tow, it was usually either church or the local Dairy Queen on Main Street- for those were about the only times we all piled in the car together. To add a (more) dramatic flair to this simple story, told many multiples of seven years later, let’s say they were off for ice cream treats at DQ.
There I was, bewildered and distraught, tears welling up in my eyes as seven take-away six left one standing at the old aluminum screen door in our living room. I watched as the car backed out of the driveway and headed down the road.
Although it felt like seven hours to me, Mom swore it took less than seven seconds for someone in the family of seven-well six at that moment- to realize I wasn’t in the car and turn around to come fetch me.
This, as the story will always be remembered, was my first math lesson about the power of addition and the misfortune of subtraction.