Tags: Education, Maternity, Parenting, Tweens & Teens
My sixth-grader hates math.
“Hates” is a nice, polite way of describing the depth of her aversion and abhorrence of math. It’s more like the ninth level in Dante’s inferno. (I don’t actually remember how many layers there were in “The Inferno,” but whatever the worst one was starts to scratch the surface of the depth of agony she apparently suffers when doing math. At least, that’s how she makes it seem.)
And I just have to wonder, since I’m the one teaching her math, why does she hate me?
I know there are kids out there who struggle with math. (And oh, Mommas, I am so sorry!)
That is not my child.
My child can do math. But she seems to deliberately sabotage math by making silly errors. She is on a covert mission to come up with wrong answers to throw off whatever poor soul is trying to decipher her work. Her papers remind me of the strings going all over the place in that movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Only she can make sense of it. Plus, she will not condescend to write down steps of a problem if she can do said steps in her head. Recipe for Disaster.
Solving for surface area? She will forget to add one of the faces.
There’s a dot in a problem? When she copies the problem, she won’t remember if it’s a multiplication sign or a decimal point.
Changing an improper fraction to a mixed number? She’ll put the numerator down for the denominator.
Also, there are the days when she says that four times three is seven. (And no, it doesn’t help when I have her little sister correct her work. She has no shame. She can get mad pretty fast, though.)
She is doing multi-step word problems without frustration. She knows all the steps. But she may or may not remember that the absolute value of 1 is… uh… 1.
One entire school day recently consisted of 12 math problems (of which, she got 11 wrong), a few brain breaks, and an hour of exercise. It took all day. As in All Day. Hours and hours. And tears. And tears. And rolling on the floor moaning.
Also more tears.
I can’t help but to think that she would like math a whole lot more if she just paid attention to what she was doing, so she wouldn’t have to redo 91.67% of her work.
My husband and I tell her every time we use math, to try to get her to see how important it is. She just looks at us with an expression of immense patience with our inability to understand her. I hope she has that kind of patience with me when I get dementia at the age of 50.
We showed her “Hidden Figures.” She said, “I want to learn how to do THAT kind of math,” but she won’t pay attention for the five seconds it takes to check her work. I tell her you can’t send someone into space if you can’t remember whether you’re adding or multiplying.
I now offer her a tic tac for every problem she gets right. And she can trade up for something better. Nine tic tacs equal a mentos. I don’t take credit for this brilliant act of bribery; it was all Daddy’s idea.
This is my life now. It is Me v. The Math Hater. I’m going to need some better strategies than tic tacs. Someone, please, throw me a life preserver before she turns into a math-hating teenager with hormones and moods.