Beginning Mathematics

chocolatesquares “Can we have dessert?” my four-year-old grandson asks, a conspiratorial half-smile pulling down the right side of his mouth. He knows full well that this is not dessert time, but also knows that spending special time with Mama Dora means tossing all parental restrictions to the wind. Ice cream? Yes! Cookies? Why not! Chocolate? Of course! As far as I’m concerned, a grandparent’s holy responsibility is to spoil the grandchild. The parents’ holy responsibility is to deal with the aftermath—a sugar-filled, hyper child, who’ll climb up walls and spin like a possessed dreidel. So! We will have chocolate, I silently decide, my own mouth watering.

“Two,” he negotiates. “Two what?” I ask, as if I don’t know. “These tiny square, brown things,” he says, without naming chocolate, as if voicing the magic word might summon his parents, heaven forbid. “Ok,” I reply “two.” So we march to the kitchen, arrange the table with china plates and napkins. It’s important to set a good example even, or especially, when chocolate is at stake. I put two chocolates on each of our plates. Help him up the stool and sit next to him.

“Take your time,” I say, “Enjoy.”

Each of us drops one square of heaven into our mouth, our eyes turning drunk with pleasure, our salivary glands bursting into grand symphonies. Ah! The bliss of chocolate leisurely warming in one’s mouth, melting on the tongue, creamy manna coating the roof of the mouth.

“It’s not fair!” He pronounces suddenly, indignantly. “What? What’s not fair?”

This time I really don’t understand. “You have two and I have one.” “But you ate yours, didn’t you?” “Yes,” my sweet, honest grandson replies, “But now you have one and I’ve nothing.” Who can argue with that? Not me.


Dora Levy Mossanen is the bestselling author of the widely acclaimed novels "Harem" and "Courtesan", which have been translated into numerous languages, and is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editors’ choice award.  She blogs for the Huffington Post, reviews fiction for the Jewish Journal, and has been features in various publications. Her latest novel "The Last Romanov" is being released Spring 2012.