The problem with having kids is having to do homework again.
I never did my homework the first time for the same reasons they don’t want to do theirs. This is why I don’t homeschool. It would end up like this:
Them: “How do you do this?”
Me: “I don’t know. Let’s go get ice cream.”
So, my three goals for my kids has always been to:
1. Get it done as soon as you get home so we can all pick up the shattered pieces of our lives and move on to dinner—where everyone can whine about what we’re eating instead of not wanting to do their homework.
2. We will do it together if we need to, because families suffer together. Binding the ties that gag us or something like that.
3. Ask for help, so you understand it, and don’t end up like Mom and be 40 years old and have to use nine different measuring cups to make something because you cannot add fractions.
I hate math.
My husband loves it and is excellent at it. So great that he does it all in his head and will even do long division by hand on the back of our mail for fun. Because, as he says, “Doesn’t everyone like to do long division by hand?”
The answer is no.
I already can’t help my oldest child with her math because when I help, it’s more of an exercise for her in learning how to do the same thing twice when paired with someone who has no idea what they’re talking about.
Me: “Oh, this is easy. You’re just finding change so subtract this and this. I think. Yeah, that’s right.”
[an hour later]
Husband to her: “Did Mom help you do this? Because it’s all wrong. You have to redo it all.”
Eight-year-old: [bangs head on table]
I can sort of still help my seven-year-old with her math, but she hates doing it. Just like I used to hate doing it. She does not want to do it. Like I still don’t want to do it. It’s because of these things that she doesn’t understand it, and I understand that she doesn’t want to understand it because math is stupid.
But you need it.
Life is a series of mathematical word problems.
Math is the surest thing in life. Not death and taxes.
You can choose not to pay your taxes (which also requires math), so taxes are not certain.
Death is certain but not as certain as math because I’m pretty sure math is involved in death somehow.
So, math is the only certain thing in life, and out of all the genes I passed on to this second child, it was the I-hate-math-I-don’t-want-to-do-it gene.
Last week it took my seven-year-old and I an hour to do these two problems. Not because I couldn’t do the math, but because she wouldn’t do the math.
It didn’t matter how many clams Kay found because by the time we decided to do the problem, the tide was in and Kay was back at her beach house having clam linguine with a high-end bottle of white wine. Jerry saw six ants and then four more, but by the time we decided to do this problem, climate change was in full force, and all the ants were dead because the second coming of the ice age was here.
The next day, we had to work on this little nugget.
Now, it’s important to note that the answers to the “Talk it Over” problems are always at the very top of the same side of these worksheets. So I read it. Not once, but nine times. She didn’t get it. She didn’t want to get it. I know this because, at one point, she rolled her eyes before sighing a thousand heavy sighs that Abraham Lincoln must have also sighed over the Civil War.
I reread it, and this time emphasized the answer.
Finally, I just told her the answer, “They’re the same numbers, aren’t they?”
Me: “The same. The numbers are the same.”
Her: “Did you know that my bunny was scratching her head when I was feeding her?”
4+5 = 5+4 because the numbers are the same.
Forever the same.
Eternally the same.
In the words of Mötley Crüe, it’s the same ol’, same ol’ situation.
4+5 = 5+4 because THEY ARE THE SAME NUMBERS.
She looked at me for a while then wrote down, “9”.
And she wasn’t wrong.
Later that weekend, I had to help my other daughter find the amount of change on her homework because my husband wasn’t home. After an hour, I figured out how to do the problems using the diagram on the worksheet. Once I learned how to count back change, which is something I should have known how to do for the last 33 years, we managed to get two done before he came home. I jumped ship the second he walked in the door, and he helped her with five more problems in a fraction of the time it took me to help her with two.
It took me an hour to help my daughter with two math problems. It took my husband a fraction of that time. How much less time did it take my husband to help her than me?
The answer is, I hate math. Where’s the high-end wine and clam linguine?