Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Math Is Evil

So the kids got their progress reports last week.

Natalie comes home first so I checked hers out. She’s almost mastered everything she should.

This is probably one of the most important bits to me:

All those crosses mean mastered/excellent. Basically, she’s able to keep her hands to herself and stay quiet when the teacher is trying to talk.

“Some kids don’t listen,” Natalie informed me. “Some kids keep talking and don’t keep their hands in their laps.”

Yeah, one of those kids used to be her brother. He struggled in Kindergarten. Things improved with time, thank goodness, but he was one of the noisy ones.

Tommy came home fifteen minutes later looking troubled.

“Did you have a good day?” I asked. Sometimes school can get overwhelming to him because of his Aspergers. It can be a sensory overload and things don’t always come easy to him.

“I did…” Tommy set his backpack down but didn’t make a move to show me his progress report. He went into the kitchen and got some water.

“So,” I said, following him in. “Do you have something to show me?”

Tommy froze. “What?”

“Your progress report?”

Tommy set his water down on the counter with a thunk. “How did you know about that?”

I grinned. “I’m a Mom. I know all.”

Tommy looked nervous. He takes things literally and was probably thinking, “Does she?”

“So where is it?” I pressed.

Tommy chewed his lower lip. “I just…I…” He went to his backpack and slowly opened it. “Please don’t be mad.” He hates disappointing people.

Uh oh. I worried he might have a bad grade. Like a D. I’m cool with anything above a C. Would I prefer As and Bs? Yes. But I don’t put pressure on my kids for straight As. Some parents do and that’s their right but it’s not for me. I am no Tiger Mom.

“Here.” Tommy practically threw the progress report in my face and darted off into the kitchen.

Well. That wasn’t a good sign. I looked down and saw…well, As and Bs…and oh, there was what was troubling Tommy. A C in math.

I struggled with math. In elementary school I remember getting S’s in the subject—for satisfactory, which was basically like a C. Then when I got into high school I got Cs and yes, even some Ds because MATH IS EVIL. Who CARES what X is? You really don’t need to know how to do that in real life. There are APPS for that now. If you WANT to learn how to do it long hand, go ahead. But for us regular non-math folks, the APP or CALCULATOR is just fine, thanks.

Still, I knew I had to address Tommy.

“Tommy?” I called out.

He peeked around the corner. “Are you mad?” He chewed his lower lip.

“I’m not mad,” I promised. “And the C isn’t that low. You have a 78. You can bring it up.”

Tommy stared at the ground. “I’m stupid,” he mumbled.

My jaw fell open. Tommy is many things but STUPID is never one of them. “You are not. Don’t ever say that,” I said. “Math can be tricky.”

A tear slipped down Tommy’s cheek. “Long division is terrible.”

Ugh, it is. I hate it. Who cares what the remainder is anyway?

“You know, we can ask the teacher for help. Sometimes they’ll stay in at lunch so the student can get extra help. I had to do that in high school.” I made a face. My parents made me do it to bring my D up. I hated having to spend my lunch in a classroom. I wanted to be with my friends. But no, I had to sit on a plastic seat and figure out what X was even though I didn’t give a rat’s ass. Thus, the D.

“Okay.” Tommy wiped his face.

“Your other grades are great! I mean, an A in reading. That’s good!” I said. “And a 99 percent in Social Studies? Fantastic!”

Tommy began to perk up. “Yeah.”

“We’ll practice math, okay?

Tommy began to smile. “Okay.”

“So you’ll never be in the mathletes. No biggie. Science is more your subject anyway,” I said, winking.


So, for their first progress reports of the year, I’d say they both did pretty good. If Tommy can improve in math, great. If not, well, it means he takes after his mother.


  1. I love your attitude! Encouraging kids is much better for everyone than just getting all upset. Compliment the good, and encourage where they fall a little short.

    Not a fan of math either. Except for money, lol!

  2. Math IS evil! Listen, my mom has been a banker, a very, very successful banker for about 25 years. She still uses her fingers to count. Tommy will be fine! :-)

  3. I think you are a fantastic mom! I love your attitude! And my heart broke for Tommy! Math was never my strong point (actually neither was science) ... overall he did fantastic and should be super proud!

  4. Ah, poor Tommy. My son liked to compare himself to others. And, not NORMAL others, no! Other students who had IQ's through the roof. I love how you focused on what he is good at.

  5. Wow, Even with that C I think he did very well in school! My attitude is exactly like yours.... C or up. And I wasn't a math genius either. HATED it.

  6. math is the pits. i hate having to teach my daughter math stuff when i still have flashbacks of getting hives during math class myself as a kid.
    no one's good at everything. life goes on.

  7. Awww poor little guy! I too totally suck at math as does my daughter. My husband and son got the math genes. I'm glad you were able to upright the ship so quickly! I always feel bad for the kids who feel so defeated if they don't have straight A's. They put way too much pressure on themselves!

  8. your attitude is great! i'm glad that T felt better after his talk with you.

    i sucked at math (still do!) but as long as he tries, that's all that matters.

  9. I remember telling a math teacher "Why do I have to learn percents anyway? It's so stupid..." He told me that I would need to know it to figure out the price of something if it was on sale. I wish I could contact him now and say "guess what? Not only does my calculator do that for me but while you where inside learning how to do percentages, someone made an app for that, sucka!" :)

  10. Ohhh, I pity my poor kids if they even REMOTELY inherited my math skills. Which are ... none.

  11. I love the way you handled the situation!

  12. I hate it when my kids call themselves stupid. It breaks my heart.

    And I still don't get math. Don't think that I ever will.

  13. I too suck at math. I just don't get it. Forget ever trying to help my 12 year old with her Algebra homework...she's on her own!

    My oldest never really liked school. C's were the best we could hope for. With my 12 year old things seem to come easier for her so we push a little more....maybe too much but she's been able to handle it so far. We're hoping it continues.

  14. Math truly IS evil.
    My parents were very strict about grades and I hid or "lost" many progress reports in my day. I can't be that mom; I just want them to do their best.
    You did great!

  15. YOu have such an amazing attitude!!! I'll have to remember that in the years to come!

  16. You have great reason to be proud of both your kids.

  17. Math scares me. Somehow Dracen, who is in fourth grade, got some math skills I never possessed. His older brother, on the other hand, takes after me when it comes to the evil math.

    I have to fight back the urge to say exactly what you just did when I attempt to lend a hand with math homework..."Who gives a rat's ass what X is"? Not me!

  18. Ugh, I HATED long division. And I dread having to try to remember things to help my kids with homework.

  19. Math is a four letter word! Both kids had a great report card! Congrats! And I, too, like your attitude!

  20. Oh, sweet! Both you and your boy - it runs in the family. If only they could hear that inner monologue - "There's apps for that! Who cares about X anyways?" - to validate them, but it is better to help them excell than encourage indifference...Still, I wonder if my mother secretly felt that way as I sniffled my way through prealgebra, on my side all along in the resentful war on math. :)

  21. You tell Tommy that Math IS Evil and because of it I *barely* graduated. And tell yourself that you are one AWESOME MOM because I think you handled that perfectly.

  22. Bless his heart! I feel his pain, I still loathe math. In college I was the only girl in what they coined "math for jocks" I struggled to make a C. Math? Not my forte.

  23. Bless his heart! I feel his pain, I still loathe math. In college I was the only girl in what they coined "math for jocks" I struggled to make a C. Math? Not my forte.

  24. Bleh math. And I married a guy who got a DEGREE in Math!

  25. I am SO glad that Irishman is well versed in math! The boys are both in middle school and I just blank out when I even open their books. Lil Duck, she's 4. I can handle her have 5 Hershey kisses? lets split them evenly...I get three and you get two. There...we are both happy. :D

  26. I hate math too! Math should stop having us trying to find it's x.....Tell math to solve it's own problems. hahaha
    My hubby on the other hand is great at math because he's in construction so he uses it everyday. I'm better at the writing and spelling area, so we're hoping our child is well rounded thanks to the both of us, because I will not be able to help him very much when it comes to math homework. I've been spoiled by a calculator, and that's usually only when I'm paying bills.
    Your boy is so cute, all worried about a C. That means he's at least showing some effort, right? ♥


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