Tyoma loves numbers.
As a toddler, he organized his magnetic numbers on every available surface. Little sequences adorned the drier, dishwasher and sides of our cars.
For several months, number six was his favorite. Everywhere we went, he pointed out sixes with unlimited enthusiasm.
Mind you, Tyoma never said, “Six,” rather he pointed and verbalized, “Ah-dah-dah-dah!”
As he grew older, he became preoccupied with making his own number sixes. Naturally, he began to write much earlier than his peers. Page after page of smeary sixes stacked up in our art boxes.
Over long weekends and holidays, Tyoma and I built number walls in his room.
The walls evolved from globular number sequences to rigid cut and paste quilts. Over the years we have painted, collaged, taped, and stapled numbers to his walls. Velcroed dry-erase boards strain under the weight of burgeoning magnetic numbers. Like tiny footnotes, lable-maker strips of digits dapple every wall.
I guess we are both obsessed.
This spring break, Tyoma wanted to redecorate his favorite number wall with a space theme. A huge bin of glow-in-the-dark celestial shapes caught his fancy. We prepared for their addition by removing one of his number walls.
My mental image of Tyoma’s future wall was quite lovely.
I envisioned a symmetrical expanse of luminous galaxy bits. The soft glow would ignite Tyoma’s young mind with questions about physics and cosmology.
The reality was a smashed and misshapen mass of pasty plastic. Tyoma crammed all 50 pieces into three square feet. He hoped the light it generated would be enough to read by.
Despite “charging” the stars for most of the afternoon, the cluster glowed for only 30 seconds in the darkness.
Tyoma frowned and stared for a full 30 seconds.
He put his hands on his hips and said, “Mama, where’s the Sharpie?” I handed one to him.
He numbered every star and planet. After he finished, he stepped back and hopped. Continuing to bounce he exclaimed, “Wow! How cool! NUMBERS!”