CAPTION: Rosanna Bauman talks “family mathematics” this week.Family Mathematics
Today, 3/14, has been designated as “Pi Day” in recognition of the importance of the mathematical function of pi. The local library is capitalizing on this by hosting a Pi(e) Day fundraiser. I think that’s really clever, because fruit pies are just as important to the world as the mathematical pi, in my opinion. In our family, no one is a mathematics nut. There are a few that are more adept at arithmetic than others, but there’s not a one of us that prefers balancing the checkbook over baling hay. But mathematics is a necessary part of life, so we sat down to calculate our tax returns and performed some sociology ciphering while we were in the groove.
The biggest addition to our family occurred on February 27 when Harper Grace joined the family. Marvin and Audrey were quite relieved that she politely waited out the snowstorm until the roads were passable. Weighing seven pounds, five ounces, Harper is a bit larger than her sister Ava was at birth. Both mother and baby are doing exceptionally well. Harper is exactly two years and two days younger than Ava, so they won’t have to wait long between birthdays!
Ava has not showed any rebellion over sharing her Mama and Daddy with a live baby. However,other little children dare not kiss or coddle the baby because it is “Ava’s Baby” and she emphatically will tell them “No- No!” We are glad for more girls in the family. Perhaps the dinner table conversations will have less male-focused topics like tractors and vehicle mechanics and more topics of general interest.
A common family trait is our multiplication of interest areas. We are incurable entrepreneurs, always fascinated with learning and trying something new. This irrepressible curiosity and high energy has factored into our farming operation as each family member expresses his own interests. In fact, the farm enterprises usually break down into each of us having a favored project and a developing interest that we are fostering. We enjoy performing our own style of on-farm research. While it’s effective, it is not classified as scientific, I term it Adventure Education, which is a nice way of saying you are “learning by the seat of your pants, because you’ve jumped in with both feet!” This has been evident from an early age. At the age of twelve, both Kevin and Steven did their own hands-on research with new sheep breeds and using ducks for garden weeders. And it doesn’t wane with age. At the age of forty, Dad and Mom embarked on the entirely new career of small sustainable farming. They haven’t backed down yet!
Personally, I am fascinated by all sorts of things that are totally unrelated (and sometimes even of conflicting interests). Dividing myself among so many interest areas doesn’t lead to much spare time. But every occasion that I find “spare time” I immediately and incurably fill it with something else I think sounds interesting. I tried to add up all the things that I was fascinated with, but the sum of it was entirely too large to hold anyone’s attention. I discovered that it was much easier to list what totally disinterests me. I have a fractional knowledge of mechanical things, mostly because I have a dad and brothers who know nearly everything about it. I recently learned how to check the motor oil and I think I can change a tire. I have accumulated an impressive mechanical vocabulary from endless dinner table conversations, but I have no clue what a catalytic converter or an exhaust manifold looks like! For that matter, I am just as willfully ignorant in my knowledge of woodworking, electrical and plumbing because there are already five family members skilled in those areas.
Humor at our house is an every day addition. My Dad’s side of the family is noted for their humor and this trait has been picked up by nearly all our family members. Our family doesn’t have just one funny guy. We all find amusement in each other. Dad probably did the most to foster our humor. He is good at telling family stories, a trait which Marvin inherited, along with the quick wit. Kevin is the surprise jokester and apt to show up at social fuctions (or even a job-site) wearing funny shoes or something unexpected. Steven is goofy, his unexpected antics and wisecracks spice up our day. Ivin is the klutz clown whose athletic achievements can go awry with hilarious results. Joanna gets her funny power from her expressions and word choices (as the youngest, she finds the need to be dramatic). Humor is so instinctive at our place that we don’t really realize what percentage of our conversation it infiltrates until we have visitors who crack up at what we consider ordinary conversation.
Subtract any conclusions that you may have as a model family. Of course we’re not perfect, but we do consider ourselves quite normal. The growing pains, the parenting struggles, the coming of age, whatever event it is that seems so terrible, wonderful or abnormal, is really quite commonly shared by other humans living their lives. The biggest difference with our family is that we see families as the backbone of the church and the foundation of the world at large. We don’t see family as a dysfunctional relationship to be put up with because we can’t avoid it. Rather we see something worth nurturing. It’s fascinating to see what kind of family we can grow with the resources we have available. Mathematics is considered a science. So is the caring and keeping of a family.
Certainly any psychiatrist will tell you that working together in a family business multiplies your chances of tension among family members. Family businesses are declared risky and certain ruin for relationships. But they fail to note the benefits of family business partnerships. Working together strengthens relationships . Indeed, there are some times of tension, but if we remind ourselves of the common vision we share, we’ll find a way to solve the issue or get over our attitude. Our family has had fifty years of experience in a family business. Despite all the hassle we still declare the riches we reap from working with one another far outweigh the disadvantages. The sum is indeed greater than the parts.
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About the Author: Rosanna Bauman, 24, is Old German Baptist Brethren. She is a farmer and teacher who lives in rural Kansas.