ARITHMETIC….Here’s something that happened to me over a decade ago. It happened so long ago that I’ve halfway convinced myself it didn’t actually happen, but I’m curious to see if it rings any bells with anyone else.

I was chatting with the 3-year-old daughter of some friends, and we got to talking about numbers. Could she count? Oh yes: she got all the way up to 20, which I thought was pretty good for a 3-year-old. Could she add? It turned out that she could. 2+2: no problem. 3+5: sure. 8+6: you betcha. This didn’t qualify her as the next Isaac Newton, to be sure, but it still seemed startlingly good for such a young girl.

Then a couple of years later I was talking to her again. Could she count? Sure, she could still count. How about addition? No dice. Oh, she could do 2+2, but that was about it. On the higher numbers she couldn’t do a thing. She was a typical pre-kindergartner.

This has puzzled me ever since. Did I imagine it? Or was she genuinely able to do more arithmetic at age 3 than at age 5? Has anyone else ever run into something like this?