Yesterday was one of the first nights in awhile where only two of my older three kids had math homework. One of them didn’t, because she had a unit test in math.
Thank God. Because after the previous night’s study session, I’m doubly appreciative of the break from math today.
I don’t know if said child passed the test.
And I’m not sure that I would have, either.
Yeeeaaah. Math. Ugh.
Confession to make: I’m math-phobic. I’m terrible with numbers. Absolutely horrendous. While I adore words- both reading them and writing them- having to use numbers is enough to put me into a cold sweat.
Right now, an indignant math lover is calculating how many insults he/she could sling at me.
Math was always a weakness for me; I still remember sitting in second grade, trying desperately to understand the concept of “greater than” and “less than”. You know, the little alligator mouths? This, < , or this: >
Extra help was required. And I STILL didn’t get it.
This ineptitude also applies to division. Fractions. Decimals.
Algebra. Solve for x? X is a LETTER to me. Therefore, it will never be anything other than…. X.
Calculus? Puh-lease. The closest I got to that was a CALCU-lator. And even those often puzzle me.
Geometry. My gifting was being able to pass 10th grade math, and the state-required math testing, without learning ONE damn thing about geometry.
The only kind of math that I ever seem to grasp was logic, both in high school and my only required college math course. Do you remember logic?
No numbers. Just words. Yes, please.
So suffice to say, math and I have never been friends. I managed to break up with math after college; we’d see each other occasionally, but we always fought. I said things I didn’t mean. I was finally swept off my feet by math’s much cooler older brother, English literature.
And I never thought I’d see math again.
(I did use math from time to time, though. Only as a crutch.)
And contrary to the admonitions of my former math teachers, I did NOT ever need to use algebra thus far to survive in the world. And I have never panicked in trying to measure out ingredients in fractions, since the fractions are clearly labeled RIGHT ON THE MEASURING CUP. And if I need to double the amount? Then I fill the measuring cup to the desired fraction, TWICE.
I WIN, math.
Or so I thought…
But fate intervened. Big time. In the form of children.
You know how genetic traits are passed down from parents to children, such as, say, blue eyes? Or asthma?
The Captain is gifted in math. Just sheer brilliance. He’s one of those people that can effortlessly calculate on the fly, his brain instantly rattling off a series of computed numbers (Actually, he’s wicked smart in so many ways, not just math.).
As I’ve clearly indicated, I am not.
And of our school-aged children:
#1 is not a natural mathematician, but she works at it and does quite well.
#3 has inherited The Captain’s innate calculating ability. Awesome.
And #2… has inherited her mother’s eyes, and… her mother’s complete incomprehension of anything numerical. So far, that is.
But here’s the rub. The Captain has to work late most nights. Ergo, the responsibility of assisting children with their homework falls on moi.
Oh, poor, poor #2.
I dread it. #2 has a great attitude, but her difficulty with math right now makes her dislike doing it. And combine that with my general distaste for numbers, the general chaos of the hours between 3 and 8pm in our home, and solo parenting, and it’s the perfect storm.
Oh, I try. I have managed to conceal my math phobia from my children, much like an alcoholic drinking in secret in the closet. Which is sort of what I wish I could do after muddling through any child’s math homework.
So we bravely sit down at the table, day after day, & the conversation over her open workbook goes something like this,
Me: “Ok, let me just take a look at the first one… oh… umm… hold on. Give me a minute to *read (*panic over) problem #1”
#2: “Good! Then I have time to draw!”
(A minute passes. Then another minute. I erase. My brow wrinkles as I read it again. I erase. I swear inwardly.)
Me: “Umm… ok. It’s like this. Do you get it?”
#2: “Umm… no?”
At this point, #1 or #3 will stroll over, look casually at the workbook, and say something along the lines of,
“Oh, that’s easy! You just take the number and bloggity blah blah blee blee…..”
(They don’t actually SAY that. That’s just what #2 and I HEAR. If you could see the thought bubbles above our heads, they’d be EMPTY. Or full of stress. And Littlest Pet Shops. (well, #2’s, anyway)
My Thoughts #2’s Thoughts
So #2 and I swat the intruder away, annoyed, and try again. And again. And finally, we either trudge our way through, or I utter the magic words,
“HEY! Tonight your dad will be home, so…. HE’LL help you!!”
And if it happens to be a night when The Captain come home early, I tag him- “you’re ITTTT!”
I’m not proud of this, mind you. I’d like to blame it on the dreaded COMMON CORE standard that all of the parents are railing against. But that would be a cop-out. If I’m honest, my deficiency existed long before they changed the curriculum.
So The Captain and I discussed. And we did the responsible thing by arranging a math tutor for #2.
Math: 0. Me: WIN!
SO you’d think, huh?
Today was Parent Day at school, where parents are invited into their child’s classroom to experience a lesson with them. Fun, right?
Guess what #2’s class was working on today?
Well played, math. Well played.
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