Posted by: cochinblogger | October 4, 2012

Kid-Friendly Definition of Complementary Angles

I was going over my 12-year-old son’s math homework yesterday. I asked him to explain what complementary angles are (after explaining to him that it’s not complimentary, as he’d written it in his note book, but complementary).

Pat came his reply with a deadpan face: “Angles become complementary when they go to Sarawak.”

I’m used to this, so I took a deep breath, counted up to ten, and tried again.

This time he gave the correct answer: “Complementary angles are angles whose sum is 90 degrees.”

I was relieved.

He takes no interest in math and performs indifferently in math tests and exams, which pains me somewhat as I teach math and my father is a mathematician. Don’t pedigree and genes count for something?

Well, interests shift with age, and I can only hope he’ll come to like math eventually. I want him to be good in math; it’s a family tradition, after all.

Of course, I know what I should do: Allow him to grow into whatever field interests him; do not force-feed him my interests.

I know, I know, I’m willing to let go … but, but I’d like him to be good in math.


  1. Would you be just as keen for him to inherit any of your perceived weaknesses?!

    • Certainly not! 🙂

  2. Sounds like he’s pretty good at math in spite of himself. 😉 The story in my family was that my father knew by the time he was 10 that he wanted to be an architect. The only thing I knew by the time I was 10 was that I wasn’t going to be an architect. I was the oldest kid, and I think this was my way of establishing my separateness from my dad. I was a lot like him in many ways, and everybody in the family knew it. So I developed interests of my own and tended to avoid the things he was interested in. (He was also a fairly ruthless perfectionist, and I knew better than to make a fool of myself in an area he knew well.)

    • Interesting. We have similar dads! My dad decided he was going to be a mathematician when he was in school, and became one, despite many reverses on the way. And yes, my older boy does resemble me in many ways.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: