One of the very first things my Dad ever taught me to say was this: “E=mc^2.” Then he would ask me what it meant and I would rattle off the whole equation in word form. “Energy = mass times the speed of light squared.” His co-workers and other strangers were no doubt impressed. Too bad for him I was only a trained monkey and had no real aptitude for math. I think it crushed his soul when this fact was discovered.
My problems with doing math aren’t new. In fact I remember quite vividly sitting with my Dad at the table while he tried to explain multiplication and fractions to me in the 4th grade. For. Hours.
It was inhumane Life was rough then. I would sit, head down, staring at the paper while my Dad would explain in exasperated tones, the problem once again. I still wouldn’t get it. Tears came from both of us, though it was always a toss up as to who would actually shed them first.
I recall having to miss out on a school performance one night because I had math homework and didn’t get it done. I was supposed to be a sheep (with a super cute tail that I got to wag at people), but the only bleating that would go on that night came from me in my room, sobbing because I had missed the show. My lamb chops were busted. (Over pun: yes. Over dramatic: not at all.) It was one of the more traumatizing times of my life.
Fast forward to today as I watch the Bigger Captor try and work with the Smaller Captor on HIS math homework. The frustration that exudes from him has got to be identical to my Dad’s frustration with me. I even feel like I’M in trouble when the kid is doing HIS homework.
He’s only working on multiplication and division at this point. The only way I have those same problems memorized is from the hours of sitting and doing flash cards with my Dad. Learning to regurgitate those quickly became a matter of survival for me.
Right now in my own school work, and I am also doing math. Thankfully we only have to take one class at a time, and it’s only for 5 weeks. I’ve survived all the classes this far, but I’m convinced this one will be the death of me.
The other night after one of the more exasperating Bigger/Smaller Captor math moments, I had to turn to the Bigger Captor and ask for help with my own math homework. He looked at me like, “you’re kidding, right?” Sadly, I was not. You see, after the 4th grade, I still never got any better at math. It’s been my arch enemy my whole life. I do OK with basic math, but let’s be serious- the second you start adding letters to things- I. AM. SCREWED. And formulas? Oy vey. . .
I freeze, like a dear in headlights. My heart starts pounding, my head instantly starts hurting, and I fear impending death if forced to do another problem.
The Bigger Captor tries to explain the problems to me, while I look at him with wide, confused eyes. I hear his voice, but I don’t understand the language. I thought math was supposed to be the universal language? . . . more like universal confidence killer.
I can have the best day in the world at work (solving international crises), then come home to math homework and instantly it becomes the worst day in history.
Our teacher is pretty nice, though; at least he stops to help explain things. He won’t give the answer to you, but at least, he makes it clear where you messed up and how to fix it. He must be the patron saint of math, if there is such a thing. I just want to know why he wasn’t around in the 4th grade.
If I pass away suddenly in the next 3 weeks (what is left of my math class) I implore you to let the world know that math is a silent killer, and it needs to be stopped. And please, no equations printed on my head stone. When I get to where I am going, it is safe to say I won’t be hanging out with the mathematicians, and I’d hate to give anyone there a false idea of my abilities.