It Just Doesn’t Add Up

OnlySon is failing math. 

OtherHalf and I have a meeting at the school today, to find out what can be done, so he doesn’t have to do summer school.  Cause, hellno he doesn’t want to go through the summer. 

I’m having issues with this whole subject.

See, I’m not good at math, either.  Never was.  I almost failed Algebra in high school, barely squeaking by with the lowest possible grade to get me through without my parents killing me.

I was always an A student, but this definitely was not an “A” class for me.

I’ve always said that “Math gives me a rash”

And I meant it.  So, now that I have to come down on OnlySon for his problems with Math class, I’m having trouble reconciling how to do this without being a hypocrite about it. 

Not only that, but I can’t do his math.  The schools have up and changed the math that kids do in 6th grade, and I no longer qualify to graduate to the next grade.


I’m glad I graduated in the 80’s, when expectations were lower, or I’d still be sitting in Mr. Gronvold’s class, waiting for the pervy teacher that smelled like booze to come stand over my desk and sweat on me, while asking if I “need help”. *shudder*

So, how do I tell my son that Math is an important subject, and that he has to work harder?  Well…

I told him that this is one of those things that you just have to “get through” – like the dentist visits, and immunizations, and learning to unclog a toilet.  Part of the “growing up” process that he’ll just have to deal with and work his way through, till he can throw it on the bonfire of graduation and say “YAY!  I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN – oh, until I get to college, and they require it there too… yeah, nevermind”.


Love the math jokes! Just can’t do the math!

Luckily, we have a resident math whiz in the house, in the personage of YoungerDaughter.  She doesn’t love math, but she doesn’t hate it, either.  And she’s pretty good at it.  So at least, when OnlySon brings his books home, she can at least look over his work, and tell us how he’s doing.  I just get hives and run to the bathroom for more calamine and an anti-anxiety pill.

I don’t know what we’re going to do when YoungerDaughter graduates next year, and OnlySon is left with two math-illiterate parents to finish out his school career.  Maybe we’ll have to get one of these:

I’ll even clean his cage – as long as it doesn’t require me to do any equations.


*Just a note – OnlySon does go to an afterschool program…supposedly to finish his homework and get help from teachers.  He’s just stubborn about asking for help with his math.  I’m not sure where this reluctance to ask for help comes from? *scratching head in puzzlement – while rolling eyes in sarcasm*

Apples on the Tree

There have been people in my life that have taught me very valuable lessons.  Some have been here for my whole life, some for only part.  But they have all taught me things that I needed, and have used, for all the 40 years I’ve been here.

~People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.~

The first one for me to talk about is my Dad.  The man that taught me how to ride a bike, how to saddle and ride a horse, how to cut copper pipe, lay wooden flooring, how to follow written instructions, and when the instructions don’t make sense, how to figure it out on my own.  The man can make almost anything, and he does it without a college degree.  Life taught him how to figure his way out of problems, his own teachers that he still hears in his head to this day – his father, my grandfather, among them.  He also taught me that “Shit Happens”, and that “Shit Washes Off”.  He taught me that I could do anything, if I thought it out, planned, measured twice, cut once, and learned to deal with the results.  “If it doesn’t fit, adjust what you’re building to fit the pieces you’ve got.”

In high school, my favorite teacher was Mr. “H”.  He was funny, smart, taught about 5 different subjects (in a small school, you capitalize on what you’ve got available, even though the school never really appreciated him), among them Psychology, History, Government, Marriage and Family,  & Driver’s Ed, AND coached the girls’ basketball team.  He showed us that there was always room for more knowledge, and that you didn’t always have to find that knowledge in a book. 

He took a special interest in my class, and helped us take many field trips, to the state capitol to learn about our own local government, to the Mandan Indian Mounds and Fort Lincoln to learn about history, and to the insides of our own heads, to learn about how we learn and how to change the way we process information.  He taught us that the easiest way to actually get a subject, was to get into it.  To get our hands dirty.  We made models of landmarks from our history, we dabbled with imaginary money in the stock market, and followed our chosen “stocks” in the newspaper, we made up fictional skits about Lewis & Clark and many other historical figures.  He was the man that introduced me to a lot of the useless facts that I still have rattling around in my brain, and showed me how to teach other people what I know, by getting animated about it, and not just reading it to them out of a book.  He was an amazing teacher, and I still carry a lot of his knowledge with me. 

*He who hesitates is lost*

*When you come to a curve, slow down and watch what’s coming.  But once you get into the curve, speed up again, and trust your instincts.*

*Don’t assume that the only way you can learn is by reading about something.  Get in there and get dirty.  If you don’t try, you’ll never be able to do it.*

His daughter was much the same.  She was my best friend in high school, and a fellow “outsider”, as we’d both migrated from other places to this small town of 300-some people.  Neither of us had the “right” name (most everybody had been born and raised there, and were all related to one another in some fashion), so we were left out of most of the inbred  clique stuff.  We both knew that there was a much larger world outside of our small town, and hung together through a lot of crap. 

She taught me how to tie a perfect bow, how to get my hair to stay curled when all it wanted to do was be straight, how to talk my way around people that refuse to listen, and how to look at life sideways to get a different viewpoint.  She taught me that art wasn’t just about straight lines, but about perspective.  And that my words had meaning for more than just myself.  She also taught me that being a nerd wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  That you could have philosophical discussions while driving long-distance, and that living in a small town didn’t mean that I had to have a small mind. 

These people helped form my viewpoint and my method of learning while I was young.  Each in their own way, they showed me that I don’t have to be “like everyone else”, but that I can be unique and still make a difference.  That there is no one right way to do anything, but that you can make your own path to the center, and enjoy the trip.

One of the greatest lessons of all is this:   

~It only takes one good apple to make the tree a success, and only one good teacher to make the lessons worthwhile. 

I’m hoping that this apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that I’m as good a teacher as they were to me.

Back to the Future

Or is it Forward to the Past?   This week is Homecoming Week in our fair city.  This is the epitome of high school, the absolute loudest time of year, barring graduation, in which teenagers cut loose with school spirit (translation – acting like chimpanzees and calling it “sportsmanlike conduct”) 

And, of course, every year during Homecoming Week, you have all the city’s schools, from elementary on up, jumping on ye’ olde bandwagon, playing along with getting everyone fired up (or is that “fed up”?) by inflicting involving all the kids in doing funky things for the whole week.  

Today’s theme?  THE 80’s.  Now, I’m debating on whether to be humiliated, pissed, or amused by this, as I was a teenager of the 80’s, and loved it.  I’m not ashamed to say I tried for the big hair (failed miserably, but I tried), I wore the chunky jewelry and the oversized shirts.  I pinned, folded and rolled my jeans. (And for those of you that don’t know what that is – here!) 

You can even learn how to do this HERE! 

Helping YoungerDaughter prepare her outfit (read: costume) last night, I was struck by how many of the trends that we had/started in the 80’s have come back to haunt our children. 

My daughter already owned all the jelly bracelets she needed for this look. 

She had the flourescent flat shoes. In yellow. 

She has scrunchies.  Although, to be honest, I don’t think those have actually come back so much as they’re buried at the bottom of her hair accessory box, because the child never throws anything out.  She even has a white lace scrunchy, ala Madonna, so I told her to use that one. 

Eddie, ala Mystery Men, the movie

She put in a side ponytail.  No, thank whatever higher power rules this (I think it’s Eddie Izzard, personally), the side pony is NOT coming back.    

I pulled a pair of chandelearrings from my jewelry box – because I’m the one that trained her to not ever throw anything out, of course.  They have enough dangling at the bottom to brush her shoulders, which is going to drive this child crazy all day long. 

She’s wearing my class ring – it says Class of ’88 on it.  She was just excited that it fits her ring finger.  I’m depressed because it fits her ring finger. 

She has a miniature Care Bear dangling from her backpack.  No, I can’t remember which one, it’s baby blue, that’s all I know.  

And, the piece de resistance?  My old maroon, satin, baseball-style jacket.  Yes, I still have the stupid thing.  It’s nostalgic!  No, I don’t wear it anymore, I gave it to YoungerDaughter a couple of years ago, for another Homecoming Week 80’s day, I think.  Kind of ironic that we live in a town thats school colors are maroon and gold, my high school’s colors were maroon and gold (different town), and the jacket is maroon with gold on the collar.  It’s school spirit and 80’s all in one.  Bonus.  YoungerDaughter has had this relic family heirloom in her closet as a testament to her love for me.  Or maybe because she never throws anything out.  Your choice. 

Back and forth, Past and Future – What’s next?  A New Kids on the Block reunion?   

Oh, I forgot:  did that.