Sleepover

Episode seven: Tai's Trouble

Boy genius Tai Poole is struggling with a problem that he can't quite solve: accepting his grandfather's mortality. Sook-Yin and strangers suggest ways they can stay close and offer insight from their own experiences with death and sickness.
Boy genius Tai Poole is struggling with a problem that he can't quite solve: accepting his grandfather's mortality. Sook-Yin and strangers suggest ways they can stay close and offer insight from their own experiences with death and sickness. 1:55
Listen to the full episode27:25

When I first met nine year-old boy wonder Tai Poole, I knew I was in the presence of a deeply gifted child.  

Tai is a self-taught math genius, born with an innate understanding of complex mathematics. He's fascinated by numerological systems, and loves pouring over second-hand calculus textbooks given to him by local book stores. These books never get sold, because no one understands them, but Tai does.

He effusively rattles off the hard to pronounce names of his math heroes, a list of brilliant minds throughout history that I have never heard of. Tai wants to learn Latin, the language of mathematicians, and he believes that numbers unlock the key to the secrets of life and the universe.

But Tai is not just a numbers guy. He loves playing the piano and guitar. Tai's empathetic nature makes him quick to reach out to those in need — even if it means just sharing his bag of cookies. He is the perfect blend of his computer programmer dad and his yoga instructor mom. Nicky Poole, Tai's mom, recognizes this balance, referring to him as a "mathemagician".

Tai loves solving equations, but he's struggling with an unsettling problem that he can't quite answer, his grandfather suffers from pancreatic cancer. Although he lives far away in New Zealand, they are very close. Seeing him struggling from afar makes Tai feel helpless. 

By sharing our experiences with death and sickness, it is my hope that strangers Judy Kennedy, MPP Jagmeet Singh and I can give Tai insight into accepting loss and offer creative ways to collapse the distance between him and his grandpa.

Also, a special thanks to Tai's mom Nicky for accompanying him.  

Sook-Yin Lee 

PHOTOS FROM THE EPISODE

Boy genius Tai Poole is struggling with a problem that he can't quite solve: accepting his grandfather's mortality. (Adam Litovitz)
Here we are again, are you ready for round three Sook-Yin? (Adam Litovitz)
Our first guest Judy Kennedy arrives right on time. (Adam Litovitz)
Welcome Judy, are you excited for the sleepover? (Adam Litovitz)
Judy is here, we just have to wait for the two other strangers. (Adam Litovitz)
Luckily, stranger number two, Tai Poole is at the door. (Adam Litovitz)
Tai Judy, Judy Tai. (Adam Litovitz)
Tai brought snacks, would you like one Judy? (Adam Litovitz)
Tai, is this what you expected? (Adam Litovitz)
Judy is getting a bit restless. (Adam Litovitz)
So is Sook-Yin. Where could stranger number three be. (Adam Litovitz)
Judy decides to take a nap before the last guest arrives. (Adam Litovitz)
Sook-Yin and Tai chill on the bed. What are the specials Tai? (Adam Litovitz)
Tai and his mom Nicky take Judy's lead. It is nap time. (Adam Litovitz)
Finally, our third stranger is here. (Adam Litovitz)
Welcome, MPP Jagmeet Singh! (Adam Litovitz)
Judy meet Jagmeet! (Adam Litovitz)
Now that we are all acquainted, let's begin. (Adam Litovitz)
Tai you're up first. What's your object and how does it relate to your problem? (Adam Litovitz)
Tai brought his paua necklace. It was made by his grandpa, who has pancreatic cancer. (Adam Litovitz)
Judy gives Tai a comforting hug, learning about the hard realities of life is difficult. (Adam Litovitz)
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