We all seem to have it for certain things and lack it for others. Like I did for color. I had this huge aptitude for color. Actually color and words - and lacked it for spelling. Actually, spelling and numbers ( more for numbers). Right from my first grade, I knew my problem area. I seldom attended the Math class - mentally that is - and the few times I attended it, I didn't make heads or tails out of it. I hard wired my brain to refuse all data involving numbers so it was the biggest academic ordeal to by heart the multiplication tables and even till date, I take the aid of a calculator to do simple arithmetic. I spent the better part of my life hating numbers and proudly proclaiming to be a math atheist but when I look back now, I feel that it was just a mental trick I played on myself due to lack of understanding for the subject. There came a time in my academics when I couldn't afford to not like numbers and it is then that I kind of developed an aptitude for them only to shun them for ever after a deviation in my undergrad to language and literature.
Now I see a "mini me" in the making. My little daughter. She can sit and color and paint and write the alphabet and sing and dance for ever - but when asked to write the numbers, she doesn't refuse to learn but never really learns them the way they are supposed to be learned. "But I want to be an artist" she'd announce and whine and sulk till I let her get away without writing the numbers for me. Determined to make her develop an aptitude for numbers, I employed the logical half of the marriage to teach the kiddo some numbers - it resulted into a "Indian parliament in session" kind of scenario in the household for the past so many days. I see an otherwise cool dad rising his voice and an otherwise peace-loving child getting into wild argument and name calling. Helplessly, I intertwine and give the little lady and ultimatum that if she doesn't learn it form me, I'll look for places that she'd learn it from (read boarding schools)
I still am not successful to make her love numbers as yet, but it is a public promise that I shall - very soon! So all this drama gets me to think - Is there really something called aptitude, or is it just a pretty mask to disguise the laziness to learn things that need more than a quick scanning?? The answer is pretty simple if one ponders about it - just like we blame our mood on things we don't want to do/not do - we do take the pretext of aptitude as well. I once told a very intelligent friend of mine (who happens to be an Ivy league grad and Fellow in technology - that I am technically challenged and I don't really care for it) all this, during an internet chat! He was quick to bite back - "how can you use a medium so fondly and not like it?" he asked! "Liking something is all about making an attempt to know it for what it is" - I hold on to these words like a talisman, and the more I thought about what he said, the more similarities I found in prose, poetry, technology and numbers. writing a computer program is like writing a classic piece of poetry and solving a math problem is like creating characters in a novel - all these acts require brains and creativity. Come to think of it in a "knowing something before loving it perspective - how could I have loved the person I married if I had not made an attempt to know him in the first place? Right?? - Right! - so does aptitude really exist? May be it does - and so does determination, concentration, grit and conviction. I might never enjoy numbers as much as I do words, but that need not be a reason for being ignorant about numbers - so I'd say, inclination should rule over aptitude. It is said that we use only a minuscule part of our brain - may be we can increase the usage a wee bit more and we might not really have anything that we'd not enjoy. And the' girl things' and 'boy things' we divide tasks into is also a hopeless stigma - that is probably the reason why I love women who can repair a computer and men who can make yummy food.
I look back and regret why I didn't love numbers, and why I didn't pay heed to my intensely mathematical sister when she chased me around to teach me exponents. I'd have had a beautiful relationship with them and solving number problems would have probably taught me a thing or two about life itself - as a compensation I promise myself - I'll not let my daughter be a slave of aptitude. She'll know all and do what she loves the most - even if it means that I need to pop in a Tylenol for that stress induced headache to argue with a logic-less toddler over logical numbers. It's all in the game of parenting, living, making mistakes and learning!