• Jasmine Mendiola

Solving Problems

Manic Mondays.

For most people, it’s the start of yet another hectic work week and the beginning of waking up too early to get out of REM stage for those off to school.

To a household of a grade schooler, this is normal. In fact, as I recall my own grade school days, I had to open to gates of our school (literally!) since we were up at 4am and off to school at 5 just to beat the awful traffic of Commonwealth Avenue. Now, a stone-throw away from Mio’s school means we buy us an hour and a half.

That’s just one problem we managed to solve through time. Everyday though, adult problems haunt us like the plague and when kids act like their problems are bigger than ours, there’s a penchant of remorse on our part.

Once, Mio cried over his Math homework three times! To be fair, it was a ridiculously difficult word problem involving 5 animals, hens and horses, all of which had 12 legs together. He had to find out how many hens and how many horses were there…… yes. There was just 1 horse and 4 hens. How did we come up with that answer? As adults we think it was common sense but to a seven year old, it was a century’s worth of solving the freakin’ math problem! Lo and behold we find out from the teacher weeks laters that homeworks aren’t graded (now don’t tell him that because we’re teaching him to do his homework on his own… which is also the result of realizing that we should allow him to make his own mistakes. In his homework at least).

That afternoon I fondly recall as the Mystery of the Math Problem, I managed to ponder on these things:

1. It’s ok if he makes a mistake. Of course it was daunting on Mio that for the first time in his elementary life we were telling him to let it go and leave the problem unanswered if he really couldn’t solve it on his own. I tell you, we tried to explain how to get to that answer but given that they were doing Singapore Math which was alien to our drills and old vertical arithmetic, who knew if we were teaching what was logical correctly? So we told him that it should be alright for as long as he did his best.

2. Crying makes us upset. That whole crying wasn’t entirely about not solving the math problem (makes me remember the day my Dad told me not to cry IF I don’t win the elocution contest because there was not point crying over spilled milk. It was my first exposure to a classic cliche which I hold dear to my heart up to this day). We were getting frustrated too because that was a homework over a weekend which we were excited to spend NOT arguing. So I had to explain that the high-pitched voices and repetitive explanation wasn’t because he couldn’t answer it. It was purely because he was crying over something that should be simple and non-meritorious.

3. Guessing is not equal to solving. If it involved having to guess the answer, then that wouldn’t be problem solving assignment, would it? That was just plain multiple choice. So I had to tell Mio that his teaches wouldn’t give him a problem he wasn’t equipped to solve. We were certain that they discussed a new school of thought or problem solving skill before being assigned that homework to supposedly practice on. In fact, when he gets too frustrated over things like this, I annoyingly remind him that he’s dealing with cancer which was more than what most adults can handle and he’s crying over Math?! Geez.

My point is, upon realizing these 3 bullet points, I was slightly embarrassed because I found myself learning from these points. Don’t they apply to our daily household, work and relationship problems?

It’s apparently all Elementary and another cliche reminds us that everything we needed to learn in life we knew in pre-school, right? Patience goes along with solving problems and I think that our generation had it harder for good reason. We read books page by page and wrote drills on the blackboard with yucky chalk not just to suffer but to value the process of learning. So in spite of the rise of the many video games, I encourage Mio to play with toys that he can touch and feel– read books that he can flip and ear-tab, expose him to old games like chinese garter, jackstones and do crafts like origami and puzzles.


origami frogs made by Mio & Tita Clems


that’s Mio with his Tito Mac playing origami cars after flying paper planes out our window!


cute origami hearts Mio surprised me with after an out of town trip for work last Friday

Today is Puzzle Day according to education.com so I’m sharing with you some PUZZLE IDEAS!

1. If you’re missing puzzle pieces, don’t throw out your old puzzle. You can use them to teach your child how to form letters! Find out how here.


2. If you’re tired of the puzzles that don’t make sense, use a drawing (the old ones that your child makes for you which the pack-rat in you tries hard to keep! Haha) and cut it up so you can test your child if he knows how to put it back together. Check out detailed instructions here.


3. Or find time to make your own puzzle! Found these blank puzzles in Muji. A great (but pricier) craft afternoon activity.


Try solving a puzzle or Sudoku once a day. You’ll find comfort and find that life shouldn’t be that hard. Happy Puzzle Day (everyday) everybody!

#Art #Parenting

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Jasmine Mendiola

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