“Lord Help me. I’m not strong enough to handle this trial of faith. I feel myself buckling under the immense desire to tear my hair out as I sit next to my child, the math student.”
And, it has begun. What almost took me to a completely debased level of myself late last school year has already materialized in the first 3 days of school. Homework.
Avery’s 2nd grade teacher follows the principle of ‘homework packets’ wherein she provides the week’s work on Monday with a due date of Friday. This includes math. So, we sat down Monday night to this year’s first installment.
Avery: So, we have story problems this year.
Me: (Great). Okay, great.
Avery: So, it’s like a math problem but it’s a story.
Me: Yep. I understand the concept. Let’s start it. Read the problem to me.
Avery: Okay, like, so it starts, “Susan has 7 apples. Jack gives her 3 more apples. How many apples does Susan have altogether?”
Me: Okie dokie. So, what do you think?
Avery: About what?
Me: About the math problem.
Avery: It’s okay.
Me: No. Not how do you feel about it, but what’s the answer?
Avery: Oh, um. What’s the question?
Deep breaths. I made her reread the story problem, while trying to calm the nerve that had begun expanding rapidly alongside my neck.
Me: Okay. So, what do you think? Susan has 7 apples. Jack gives her 3 more. How many does she have now? In total?
Avery: Why does Susan have all the apples?
Me: That doesn’t matter, Avery. It’s just the problem. What’s the answer?
Avery: Oh. 7?
Avery: 3? She has 3 now.
Avery: But Jack gave her some. It says right there.
Me: Avery. She already had 7 apples, remember?
Avery: Oh, right.
Me: And Jack gave her 3 more, remember?
Avery: And what?
At this point folks I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I stared at my child, my beautiful little girl, and wanted to flick her on her little nose. For a moment I wondered whether she was truly trying to bewilder me as part of some grander evil plan or she honestly was not comprehending the story problem set before her.
And we regrouped.
Me: Okay. Avery. Focus here. Susan has 7 apples, gets 3 more. How many does she have?
And then out of nowhere…
Avery: Oh. 10.
Touchdown!!! I’m not quite sure why our homework session had to take the path it did, but in the end, at the point it most mattered, she got it. Thank God. Because I truly think I could not have taken a minute more of the mayhem.
Our personal relationship is tight and mighty, unwavering and true. Best friends and confidantes, hopefully for life. Our working relationship? She’s oil and I’m water. She’s flighty and I’m focused. She’s there and I’ve been there done that. She’s 7 and I’m 34. She’s child and I’m mom. It’s a homework match made in Hades.
I’ll have to be honest, I’m a little worried about our future sessions together. This little slip of a girl pushes me slightly past my maximum patience level and I know I’ll need to work on that. She is, after all, only in the 2nd grade but she’ll also have a little work of her own to do if we’re going to make this a great year. But, rest assured, we’ll work through it and I will do my best to not only help her with her homework, but also help her to understand it. And we’ll both be speaking to each other afterwards. Hopefully.