Tonight I have had a most humbling experience.
Savannah is in 4th grade this year and, like most kids, asks me for help on her homework quite frequently. Usually this is never a problem. I mean, come on, how hard is it to keep up with 9-year-olds in any subject? Spelling - no problem; science - no problem; history - no problem... You get the idea. After a hard day at work, sometimes this request for help makes me feel like one of the world's most brilliant people. Mom knows it ALL, so bring it on! Tonight is math homework, which hasn't been a problem either.
Now let me just state that math was never my best subject in school, to put it mildly. I remember when I was in 6th grade that my teacher at the time, Mr. Guyon, wanted to put me into the accelerated math group, but I declined. I still don't know what that man had been smoking to suggest such a thing! In 8th grade I actually had a decent math teacher who took the time to explain problems and made you feel very adult-like and responsible for asking questions.
Unfortunately, that year was the last decent math teacher I ever had. The following years were filled by the football coach (who only helped the jocks or discussed the latest game ad nauseum); Mr. Porter-Pedon, your stereotypical computer nerd who had absolutely NO CONTROL of the class (I learned nothing about math that year, but I do remember discussing some really good books with Heath, the boy I had a crush on at the time. One author he suggested, Patrick McManus, is still a favorite!); and my junior year by the cheerleading coach, who not only favored the ditzy dance-team members, but was a first-class witch to anyone who dared take her away from discussing the latest moves to ask a question pertaining to geometry *THE NERVE*. After that experience I decided that I had taken my fill and I was now done with anything even remotely pertaining to numbers, thank you for asking.
I taught the boys, as soon as they entered kindergarten, that some day, when they entered junior high, they were NEVER, EVER to bring me their math problems. I guess I forgot to impart that wisdom to Savannah, or maybe I just didn't specify a good age limit. Anyway, tonight she came to me with math book in hand and a scowl on her face. But tonight, for the first time after she read me the story problem (my old arch-enemy), I felt my face transform into a matching scowl (guess we know where she gets that look!). After making her read it through two more times, I grabbed the book, thinking she had to be purposely leaving something out. No such luck...
We finally figured the problem out, but not before reading through the last 3 chapters and then finally consulting the index. Why can't they just speak in plain English, and why do they have to make it so hard on us poor, aging parents? Don't they realize how demoralizing it is to admit, "I'm not even smarter than a FOURTH grader?!!!"