The Fight of My Life


3rd grade
Each afternoon, it starts the same way. I muster up all my strength, focus on having a positive attitude, and pray that this time is different than the day before. 

I’m talking about my daughter’s third-grade math homework.

Who would’ve thought that an innocuous looking worksheet would cause so much dread, fighting, and tears in my house…  Basically, it always adds up to me wanting to wrap my mouth around a revolver.

This flimsy little worksheet with the seemingly innocent cartoon guy on the front is hugely intimidating. I admit, math is not my strong suit—but these complex word problems mess with the head – hers and mine.

Okay, so we all know that the Common Core standards have raised expectations to a higher level. Children should be able to explain the rationale behind why 5 x 3 = 15. In my day, it was because 5 x 3 equals 15. 
Go figure. Now I think it involves an array, the sum’s rising sign, and something with an aardvark.

But I’m not here to speak about the questionable merits or obvious flaws of this curriculum. That’s a whole different article. And when discussing it with other moms – here’s what I noticed: if your kid is good at math and completes homework with ease, you look at me quizzically when I complain and go on to praise the curriculum. Lovely. Or you’re in my boat, empathize with my thinking, and I feel better. Love you. 

Who knows, if this came more easily to my daughter – maybe I’d feel differently. But this is my story. 
And this is typical of what happens in my house:

Me: “Honey, you seem to be struggling. Let me help you.”

Daughter: “NO! I don’t need your help – I know it.”

Me (trying to remember my yoga breathing): “Sweetie, your answers aren’t correct. Let me show you.”

Daughter (in tears): “NEVER! You don’t know anything! I want daddy. Go away!!!!”

Me (in my head): “You little ingrate! This is the last thing I want to do. Seriously, I’d rather be getting waxed than deal with this.”

So there it goes. And not only do I truly feel for my daughter, regarding her frustration and dwindling sense of confidence – but I question my own abilities. The fact that I’m not always sure of the answers myself makes things worse. Sometimes it’s like the blind leading the blind.

So you’d think I’d be grateful when my incredibly patient husband has the rare opportunity to work with her instead. Well, not exactly. She’ll climb on his lap while he creates hilarious word problems to which she is engaged and delighted. Then he’s kind enough to give me some “helpful tips” on how to work with her next time. My hero. Can I shoot myself now?

I know to some this may sound a bit overdramatic for third-grade math homework. 
But every time she opens her folder and flings out that satanic paper, my heart beats a little faster, and I wish I could run.

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