Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Dreaded Moment

It comes without fail every weekday, and sometimes on weekends too. The dreaded moment. "Mom, I need help with my math."

I have a little routine I use to deal with this alarming situation. Whenever someone asks me to help with their math, I immediately break into a mournful rendition of "Greensleeves". I don't actually know any of the words to Greensleeves except for, well, greensleeves. So my version goes like this:

"Greensleeves was all she wore,
From head to toe, it was quite a bore."

Although well-rhymed and most likely publishable, I sing this song for one reason and one reason only: to try to distract my hapless child from his appointed task. I'm always hoping he'll get that vacant look in his eyes and suddenly say, "I forgot what I came in here for."

Yes, it's true. I would rather have my children turn in blank math pages than have to reveal to them what a hopeless math-o-phobe I am. It's not even so much about doing the math, it's about remembering math that I learned several to many years ago. I can never remember the difference between Least Common Multiple and Greatest Common Factor, among other things. So in order to help, I either need to read the whole chapter in the math book first, look it up online, or call the homework helpline.

One time I tried the homework helpline. It went a little something like this:

Me: When I multiply fractions, do I multiply straight across or cross across?

Helpful Homework Person (HHP): Huh?

Me: I need to multiply 1 and 7/8 by 2 and 3/4. I'm just wondering if I should add the fractions to themselves first and then multiply in a diagonal way...

HHP: You mean cross multiply?

Me: Ummm....yes?

HHP: Okay, to cross multiply you simply multiply the top of the first fraction with the bottom of the second fraction, and vice versa.

Me: Right. That much I know. But is that what I'm supposed to do here? I'm just not sure if I use the multiplying when I'm adding or if I should skip the adding and go straight to the multiplying across or if I should multiply straight and then add and simplify.

HHP: Could I speak to your child?

Child: Hello?

HHP: I've been on the phone with your mom for the last ten minutes and I still haven't figured out what the question is. Can you help me with that?

Child: That's okay, I figured it out while you guys were on the phone.

The next day I got a letter from the Homework Helpline directing me to call the new Remedial Homework Helpline at 1-800-IMSTUPD next time I had a question. Unfortunately, I'm very good at English and so I was quickly able to decipher that phone number as a cleverly disguised insult. (It's short for I'm Stupid. Don't worry if you didn't get it, a lot of people don't.)

I'll never sink to that level though. I won't call the Remedial Homework Helpline as long as I've got ten good fingers to count on. And the internet.


The Crider Clan said...


I find myself laughing out loud every time I read your posts! That was seriously hilarious! I'm so scared for my kids to get to that stage because I was not very good at math the first time around...and I've forgotten most everything I ever knew! Brad thought it was funny too. I always read them to him!

Andrea said...

This was so funny Lecia! I really like reading your blog! Keep it up. I'm already scared of helping my kids with math, and I don't have any kids yet!

Kent and Jan said...

Funny posting, Lecia! You always manage to make me laugh. Thanks. Thanks also for the sweet book you gave us. We both read it and loved it. We now have a different way of looking at spirit to spirit communication and the value of life no matter how infirmed an individual is. Jan