Tag Archives: homework

Homework Help………………..

If you read this, you know how much I love to help with math homework. Well, my son (and I) have now graduated to Algebra. Last night, he had a lot of home work and he was stuck on a few problems. He asked me for help.

Ummmm. No, hubby was not here – why do you ask? 😉

I kind of laughed and mumbled something about the blind leading the blind and sat down armed with a pencil and a scoop of Algebra hopefulness.

To be honest, I have been pretty surprised at my ability to help him navigate through his math homework so far. Don’t worry though – I am not resting on my laurels because I know I am about to hit a breaking point. When I initially look at a problem, it almost inevitably looks like alphabet soup and I feel woefully unqualified (even armed with my B.A. in English Writing) to help at all. But then, I look through the book and I look at his notes and we talk and e.v.e.n.t.u.a.l.l.y. we figure it out. I did actually go pretty far in math but the last time I used “x” and “y” for anything besides bonus points in Scrabble was well – cough – over 20 years ago.

And sometimes I have a hard time saying with a straight face that this is all important for him to learn. I cannot ever remember needing to know what ordered pairs fall on a given line. My life has been pretty full even without that ability readily at my fingertips.

Just as a side note – I found a great website that will give you the answer to a problem. It’s Mathway. You can also pay a subscription fee if you want to see the steps that get you to the answer. But so far, the answer has been enough to point me in the right direction. They are no fools though – I am sure they know that I am probably only one or two chapters away from hitting “subscribe”. tee hee.

My parenting mantra has always been “don’t sell yourself short” whether it be swimming or soccer or school or cleaning your room. Which Bear ever-so-kindly throws right back at me when I get intimidated by higher math even simple addition and subtraction sans calculator. (Note to self – be careful how you encourage your kids – set the bar low and they won’t throw it back at you. 😉 )

I could barely diagram sentences even as an English major, so figuring out linear equations looked a tad bit daunting. Yeah for me – last night’s homework – yep, linear equations. Okay. Let me get an extra strength Diet Dr. Pepper, channel Albert Einstein, and I will be right there.

We worked through one problem and moved on to the next. I started talking about the problem thinking, “bring it, I got this one” and he started chanting. Seriously?

Bear: la la la la la.
Me: Bear, here is what I think
Bear: la la la la la la
Me: Excuse me?
Bear: Mom, I am thinking – you are disrupting my thoughts.
Me: Yeah, you invited me over here. Do you remember that part?
Bear: Shhh.
Me: Did you just SHHHHussshhhh me?
Bear: Shhh.
Me: Shuffle Shuffle Shuffle (that was the sound of me backing away)
Bear: Where are you going? I need your help.
Me: My help. That is pretty funny. Remember the blind leading the blind? And you just told me to shhhhush.
Bear: Please come back and sit down.
Me: Did you just say please?
Bear: rolling his eyes – apparently teenage speak for yes, you know I did.
Mom, come on.

So here is the beauty of last night. Hubby was at work, the girls were at a practice, and my teenage son was begging me to sit with him. We worked together for an hour – completely uninterrupted – and talked about Algebra and all kinds of other stuff. It was really fabulous. We laughed a lot. And he actually figured it out mostly by himself. And, no that was not because my suggestions were so ridiculous that they triggered real possible answers to the front of his memory bank. Okay, maybe it was because of that. Just maybe.

When he was done, he looked at his assignment sheet and asked me to read it.

Me: Problems 1-4, 11-39 odd
Bear: Did you just say odd
Me: Yeah, did you do even
Bear: I did all
Me: More practice can’t be a bad thing right?
Bear: more of the eye rolling – apparently quite a versatile little trick that eye rolling – it can mean so many different things
Me: Reading directions before you start might be a better approach next time. Come on, you have a lot more homework to get done
Bear: It’s not my fault I have so much homework.
Me: blank stare (but no eye rolling – pinky swear)
Bear: Well, maybe it’s a little bit my fault. La la la la.

I am once again a fan of homework.

I know, a lot of parents don’t get too involved in homework – especially 8th grade math homework – and for the most part, I totally get that – independence and all that jazz – but I see real value in checking in every now and then. Your teenager might actually beg you to sit with him/her and might just pay (full) attention to what you are saying. And you might just learn about more than just Algebra.

And, just so I wouldn’t get to comfy cozy on my mommy thrown, he rode in the back seat this morning – not speaking to me. Apparently he was mad at me because I won’t let him walk by his younger sister and ever-so-gently knock the crap out of her with his backpack. I know, I know, I am so unreasonable.

Fear not, I explained very carefully to him why that was not exactly the best approach when tomorrow he might need my help with math again.

john doe

You might recall that my not-so-little Bear was in elementary school in the United States and that our trip across the ocean landed him right into middle school. I was not sure how this new world would be for Bear. So far, so good.

Some things are certainly different – Bear has now been to a dance (and actually danced) and to a middle school party (and danced again). He is enjoying his journey. There are a lot of activities he misses and he misses his dear friends terribly – but he has made some good friends here and he is having a good time.

One of the things I did not expect was the stepped up homework. Not the volume necessarily, but the complexity. And I don’t mean harder – just more thoughtful.

The very first assignment Bear got was to write paper on John Doe. A paper that involved medical ethics. Excuse me – did you know that he’s 11. I took a biomedical ethics class in college. I loved it, but I was 21 at the time. That’s not exactly 11.

So, we read the scenario – it’s basically this. John Doe is a young man (20, I think) who has been in a terrible car accident. He is on a ventilator and is showing no improvement. His hair grows and his fingernails grow, but he is not responsive to voices or other stimulation. He is on a feeding tube. The insurance company will no longer pay for his medical treatment. He has been in a coma for 3 months. Your job is to advise his parents what to do in five paragraphs.

Okay, in five decades, I could not come up with the right words to advise his parents what to do – what do you mean 5 paragraphs? And do you understand that Bear is our oldest and we have not talked to him about any of this stuff yet, and we still have jet lag. And, remember, he is 11. Welcome to India.

I want to start by saying that I love the kids new school. We were thrilled with our school in the U.S. and I was wondering if our new school could possibly measure up. It has. It is really, really great – there is a lot of focus on creative thinking – not so much on memorizing facts. It’s taking in information and analyzing it. More of a swallowing it whole and letting it become a part of you than a “repeat what I just said” focus on learning. But did I mention, he is 11? Did I mention we still had jet lag? Can I find out where to buy goldfish crackers before I have to tackle medical ethics? Please?

So, before he can even start writing a paper, we have to talk about this. Just in case you have forgotten, let me remind you that Bear is a pretty logical thinker. That is, unless it comes to pulling the plug on a young man in a coma whose fingernails are still growing. Then apparently he becomes a big old softy. And, yes I love that about him. But it was hard to see his eyes melt away when I said he should at least consider taking John Doe off of life support. He looked at me and seemed to think, “but what would you do it if was me”? Dagger. I hear America calling – the land of the goldfish crackers that are easy to find.

How do you explain to your child that it makes you want to throw up to even consider that you could ever have to make this kind of decision about him – but that sometimes there are actually practical matters involved in these decisions. How do you define ethics – when your child thinks in black and white and there are nothing but grey answers available? Can we say role reversal? Me – the full fledged Pisces and sentimental sap explaining to the boy who wants to solve pi why it might make sense to not let John Doe “live”. And that same boy explaining to me that John Doe is still alive. Well, let’s talk about quality of life and cost of care and when are we going home again?

I told him ethics is when your brain meets your heart and they don’t always agree. If fact, they are bound to disagree because matters of the heart are rarely logical. And there are never any right answers. Math won’t usually help here – it is certainly not an exact science, if it is even a science at all. But how do you explain to those big brown eyes that what you can so clearly see that someone else should do might not be what you would do at all? Holy parenting, Batman. He decided John Doe’s parents should have a fundraiser to pay to keep him on the ventilator. I think this bodes well for number one hubby and me in our later years.

The final part of this assignment was a debate in the class. I would have loved to have seen that. The teacher was very careful to explain to the students that there were sure to be a lot of different view points and that everyone’s opinion had to be respected. That’s cool.

More reason I miss Mr. W………….

6th grade math.
(Yes, this is a repeat, but not because I am lazy, but because it’s not getting any easier.)

Mr. W lets me sleep in.
(I had completely forgotten about this one – but it is a big one.)

Number One Hubby let me sleep in while he was home for Thanksgiving. And, while I slept all nestled in my bed, he and the kids decorated the house for Christmas and hug the stockings by the chimney with (out) care. He is good like that. That is why you might see mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe.

On the other mornings that he would let me sleep in, Mr. W would make the lunches for school, get the kids breakfast and then take them to the bus stop. Have you been to a bus stop in the morning lately? Baby, it’s cold outside. Today I learned that 2 degrees Celsius equals about 36 degrees Fahrenheit. (I also learned how to spell Celsius and Fahrenheit.)

Maybe I am not so big on spelling either.

Have a mentioned that I am not a morning person?

Our dishwasher has this unique (translation…..unnecessary) feature that allows you to actually turn it off. Not just have it not running – but truly turn it off – like a light. Mr. W feels that it saves on our electricity bill to turn off the power (what about the over 100 recessed lights you had installed, honey – oh, I forgot, that’s different -never mind). So, every time I filled the dishwasher (no, he didn’t do that – he didn’t want me to miss him too much) I would have to wait for the dishwasher to “initiate” before I could start it. It was annoying. Now, I miss that part of my day and I think of him every time I run the dishwasher.

I bought 2 white t-shirts and 1 off-white t-shirt yesterday. Mr. W would laugh at that. More white shirts? He would laugh. I miss sharing the tiny details of the day with him that never quite make it into our phone conversations.

He does know I bought Christmas dishes. He also knows I did not need Christmas dishes. But he does not care because he knows I really love Christmas dishes – even if we might not use them for the next two years. He is probably laughing at me for that too. Or maybe I should say laughing with me. 😉 (And, yes they are also white.)

My prayer list has gotten so long that it’s hard to remember it all. And now I find it necessary to pray every night.

Sleeping alone still stinks.
(Also a repeat – but a self-explanatory repeat, I believe.)