Mommy, I am afraid to die

As we all have experienced, almost every day of parenting brings unexpected new challenges. Surprisingly, some of these challenges can be creatively approached through math. For example, what do you tell your seven year old son when he comes crying to your bed and tells you that he is afraid to die? I was uncomfortably puzzled for a moment or two. Then I thought of the low life expectancy facing our ancestors hundreds of years ago and how gradually it started improving with the discovery of vaccines and cures for some of the deadliest diseases.

It seems that each new generation adds about 10 years to the previous generation's life expectancy, creating a chain of numbers that represent an arithmetical progression. Each life expectancy differs from the previous one by the same amount. I described to my son the most optimistic arithmetical progression I could imagine. I told him how his great grandparents had an average life expectancy of 70, grandparents – around 80, me and dad can hope for 90, and he can expect 100.

Going even further, I added that while he is enjoying these long 90+ years, he can come up with an invention to make himself eternal. And the latter may include populating another planet to get food and living space for everyone. This detour worked wonders as he fell asleep in 5 minutes, probably fantasizing himself on a mission to Jupiter. Hopefully he will remember what the arithmetic progression is when the morning comes.

Images by FunKa Lerele, distributed under the Creative Commons Lisense

Try another cool story from TheMathMom - Breakfast, Lunch And Dinner.


  1. Hey Maria, I love this story! You handled that beautifully! I'll keep it in mind.

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