Tag Archives: teenager

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.

Time to Write………

We have been home for 2 months now and it has been great. But I have gotten some grief from my readers about not writing enough anymore – and no, they are not all related to me and no, money did not exchange hands. It’s just now that I am once again doing all the shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, driving, etc, I have not found/made the time to write.

Today is the perfect example of why I am short on time. My son had plans to head out to a sleep away camp this morning. He needed to meet the camp bus at 9:30am packed and ready to go – and apparently healthy. Oh. Yeah that would be good.

Healthy. I will have to remember that next time I am packing socks and snacks and bug spray.

Luckily, we were smart enough to pack last night. And don’t kid yourself into thinking that packing was super fun. Apparently, what a mom thinks a 13 year old boy needs on a 5-day trek into the wilderness and what that young man thinks he will need are two very different things – even if they both speak English and are reading from the same sheet. He thought it would all fit in a backpack because he didn’t want to be the only one with a suitcase. Really? I did not realize that teenagers have become suitcase phobic. I still have so much to learn. But okay, try it. Knock yourself out.

Famous last words: “Mom, this isn’t all going to fit – I need a bigger bag. Maybe even a suitcase.”

Really? That is simply shocking. I so did not see that coming. 😉

So we transferred everything from the backpack with so much potential to the more realistically sized suitcase. And it even zipped up. But when we tried to put a second bathing suit in, we realized the zipper was actually broken on the suitcase. We were both tired so we decided to address the great zipper incident in the a.m. He wanted to wake up at 7:30am so we were going to have p.l.e.n.t.y. o’ t.i.m.e.

Or so I thought. He woke up this morning and says, “Mom, my ear really hurts. I am pretty sure I have an ear infection or swimmers ear.”

Me: That’s great honey. Are you sure? Because you have to be on a bus in an hour and a half. And if you miss the bus – well, that means I am spending the day in the car. The entire day. In the car.

And, by the by, I know good and damn well he is sure because he has never told me this and been wrong. Arrrgggh. However, I did have the clarity of gratitude to be very, very thankful that he is old enough to tell me where it hurts and maybe even why it hurts. I do not (for even one second) miss the days of trying to translate tears and screams in to one of six possible problem categories – hungry, my sister took my truck, tired, dirty diaper, sick, and/or absolutely undeterminable and therefore unsolvable. I was also very thankful that he actually told me about it, even though he might have understood that it could have totally meant that he might not get to go on this five-day, fun-in -the-sun, week-without-parents and/or siblings, eat-all-the-junk-food-you-want, stay-up-way-too-late, no-summer-homework extravaganza.

Well, at least I thought he understood that until I had a mommy realization moment. I thanked him for telling me and not just pretending to be okay even though it really could mean that he might not be able to go at all or that I might end up driving him the f.o.u.r. and a h.a.l.f. hours to camp and then back again (another four and a half hours) – and he looked at me with absolute disbelief that him not getting on that bus in merely an hour and half was at all a possibility. He clearly had complete confidence that I could make this all happen quickly and magically. That I am surely capable of diagnosing then healing an ear infection while finding the chapstick and simultaneously growing enough money on a tree so that he could buy unlimited snacks and milkshakes and possibly even an extra camp t-shirt. That is when I fully understood that it isn’t quite yet time to put my super hero mommy cape away. At least not yet. Even at 13, I am still a rock star. Yes, that pretty much made it all worth it.

The rest of the very long story short is that we have a fantabulous doctor who squeezed us in and diagnosed my little Bear with – guess what – an ear infection. Our wonderful, wonderful nurse faxed the prescription to the pharmacy and I diligently obeyed all traffic guidelines (which is important because my drivers license happens to be in my husband’s wallet that just happens to be in New York City – oh yes, that means I am single parenting at the moment – even better, right) and then we rolled in safely to the Giant Pharmacy. Where the pharmacist knew nothing of our prescription. Perfecto. But I had the hard copy – yeah me still earning that super hero cape – and begged for a quick fill of our prescription. We had just enough time to obey all traffic guidelines once again and rush drive carefully home and change out the problem suitcase for a new suitcase with a functioning zipper so that Bear’s underwear wouldn’t fall out all over the ground in front of the very cute 8th grade girls on the bus. (And by the by, parents of 8th grade girls – could you buy your daughters longer shorts? Not necessarily the girls on this bus but just in general. That would be great. Thanks.)

In the end, Bear even had time to take a quick and very hot last civilized shower before camp. Then it was right back to the pharmacy to get both of his prescriptions and a doughnut – any mom with a super hero cape certainly knows that antibiotics can upset an empty tummy and a doughnut has been scientifically proven to be a comfort food. And yes, I got myself one too – I earned it after all.

We made it to the bus stop with exactly two minutes to spare. That is where Bear decided he did not exactly need me anymore and I got a shoulder bump and a quick hug goodbye. Oh yeah, and a “mom, I’m fine.” My cape dropped a little with that one. But I perked up when I saw the plethora of suitcases under the bus. Who knew that other teenagers might actually use real luggage to get their camp belongings from one place to another? All is truly right with the world.

And, yes, the bus was at least a half an hour late leaving. And no, I don’t think 10am is too early to start drinking. 😉

P.S. My dear blog buddy Loco tagged me as one of his favorite women bloggers in Asia – that was awesome too. Thanks Loco!

Let Freedom Ring…………..

This weekend my niece turned one. Her party was in Philadelphia. Off we go.

It was a great party – she is (of course) the most adorable little one year old and as sweet as can be.

I figured if we were going to be near Philadelphia, we might as well go thru the city and soak in some history. Enter moans and groans from my kids. But, too bad, I am the one with the drivers license and I have always wanted to see the Liberty Bell. So we started off at the Liberty Bell Museum. Because it would make perfect sense that the Liberty Bell Museum would house the Liberty Bell. Don’t you think? Yeah, not so much.

DSC00527

It was a good thing though because that museum closed at 5pm and, for some reason, when you show up at 4:55ish, they aren’t exactly pushing tickets your way. We did see a lovely replica of the Liberty Bell and took a picture of it just in case the real Liberty Bell building closed at 5pm too. (The picture of the Liberty Bell above is the real deal. Luckily, that building closed at 7pm. Whew.)

I have always been a big fat patriotic dork and love this country. I am so proud of all we have accomplished and how we learn from our mistakes. I know we are not perfect – but I think we are as good as it gets. There’s no two ways about it – I heart America.

But I had more selfish reasons for wanting to see the Liberty Bell.

In 1976, the U.S. Mint printed a commemorative quarter in honor of the 200th birthday of the U.S. of A. On one side was a picture of the Liberty Bell – crack and all. When I was younger, my father had a bicentennial quarter collection. Every time he got change, he sifted through looking for the special quarters. If I found one, I would save it to give to him. He kept them in a very cool bank that was a clear cube with a Liberty Bell statue inside. When you put a quarter in the bank, it clinked and clicked against the bell. Good times!

I, on the flip of the coin, had a pinball habit.

Do you see where this is going? Yes, that was back in the day when a pinball machine was still entertaining and cost exactly 1 quarter for 1 game.

I stole borrowed some quarters from my Dad’s collection to play pinball at the local youth club. Yeah, I know. Brilliant. (You probably guessed that I did not exactly ask permission first. Clearly not the best approach. Ooops!)

Every Friday night the high schoolers had a dance at the youth club. Every Saturday night the middle schoolers had a dance.

My Dad knew there were exactly two suspects in the case of the missing quarters. My brother or the girl with the blisters on her thumbs and overuse injuries in her fingers. He told us that neither one of us would be allowed to attend the dances until someone fessed up. Smart that guy – no blaming – just giving us both the same opportunity to come clean with consequences for the other if we did not.

My brother was older – so his night was coming up fast. I had decisions to make. Disappoint my Dad or shortchange my brother. AUGH. I would like to believe that I confessed my crimes before Friday night and my brother was able to go to his dance. I believe I did. I don’t think my criminal streak ran deep enough to keep him from his night with friends.

Anyquarter, fast forward many years later. I now have that bank full of quarters. My Dad gave it to me. It was more significant even than the time when he passed me the car keys. Because along with that bank came his re-established trust that I would not waste the quarters away on pinball games and other foolishness.

Even now when I get change, I look for bicentennial quarters and every once in a while I find one. They always bring a smile to my face. And that bank is in my safety deposit box. It is a real treasure. My kids also keep their eyes open for those quarters – and yes, I have confessed my sins to them in hopes they can learn early from my mistakes – we’ll see how that goes.

So, while I fully appreciate all that the Liberty Bell stands for and I embrace its history. For me, it also represents the rise and fall of a stupid teenager who loved pinball a little too much – and it represents a Dad who loved her anyway – cracks at all. It may not be what the Founding Fathers intended but it is my own little slice of history.

Dueling Drivers……….

I know many of you roll your eyes when I talk about my “staff” woes. I completely realize that it really is hard to understand how “un”helpful help can be. You lose a lot of your independence and that’s not always fun. But sometimes it is funny. Sometimes in India I have to remember that as long as it ends up as a funny story later, I should laugh about it now.

Let me ‘splain…

As you might recall, our driver is a good driver. We are happy enough with him. He is reliable and kind. Sometimes communication with him is not easy, but most of the time he gets it pretty well. I have learned that whenever we are going in a caravan that I must get the other drivers phone numbers – just in case. That has proven to be very helpful and wise.

Things have been good enough. Until yesterday. Yesterday, I called him and told him I was on my way out of the school. He said, “Yes, ma’am, I am coming.” That’s what he always says and he always comes.

Until yesterday. I sat for about 10 minutes – yes, in the 110 degree heat – and then I called him back. No answer.

Houston, we have a problem.

I called again at 15 minutes. You got it. Still no answer. Now I am worried. It’s really not like him.

I want to worry about my driver like I want a root canal. Really, it’s just not on my list of priorities.

So, I call hubby. Who calls our driver. No answer.

Hubby calls his assistant. Hubby’s assistant calls our driver. No answer.

Yes, it was like beating our head against the wall – a wall with very long nails that have been waiting  in the 110 degree heat. Yes, that would hurt.  I know someone brilliant once said that repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting a different result is foolish.

Call us foolish. It’s like a bad joke – how many expats does it take to call a driver?

I called our driver again. What do you think the odds are that there was NO ANSWER?

Hubby sends another car. It’s going to take 45 minutes to get to me. Yeah, that’s a long time. Yes, it was super duper hot outside. Yes, I had to pee. Yes, I should have taken a cab. Something about being dependent on others makes you forget temporarily how to think in a straight line. Plus I am now really worried about our driver. I want to be sure he is okay.

AUGH.

As I sit waiting for driver number 2, driver number 1 shows up in a rickshaw. WTH?

It seems he locked his keys in the car – and his phone. WTH?

I wondered the same thing – yes, he answered the phone and told me he was coming. AND THEN he locked his keys in the car AND his phone. Seriously, WTH?

Upon further investigation interrogation, we learned that he was sleeping on the passenger side. I called and woke him up. He answered the phone. He got out of the car to get in the drivers seat and WALAHHHHHHHHH. Okay then.

Then he tried for 25 minutes to get into the car – while he knew I was waiting. He was literally around the corner trying for 25 minutes to open the door. When he ultimately accepted that he was not going to be able to get the door open without a key or call me without a phone, he caught a rickshaw to come give me an update. Yes, I suppose that was very kind of him.

Do you see how having a driver is like having a teenager? Did you see why it’s not all butterflies and unicorns dancing on rainbows?

Oh, and yes, it gets better. You knew it would.

Now our driver and I are waiting together outside in the heat. He feels terrible. I am not happy – glad that he is okay – but not really happy – but trying not to act like a biotch, because really  these things can happen. I cannot make small talk with him because (A) I don’t want to and (B) I don’t speak Hindi. It was like two divorced parents waiting to congratulate their kid for getting the Nobel Prize. All smiles on the outside – but not exactly happy, happy to be standing next to each other waiting.

So, driver number 2 (finally) comes. Driver number 1 gets in the front seat. I get in the back seat. We are going to my house to wait for a second set of keys to be delivered. It’s going to take about 2 hours. Fine.

All the way home I hear blah, blah, blah Ma’am (that’s me) – blah blah blah Saab (that’s hubby) – blah blah blah mobile (that’s how you say cell phone here).

That’s how it went the whole way home – ma’am – saab – mobile – ma’am – saab – mobile – ma’am – saab – mobile. AUGH!

Hey dudes, can you use that little device right in front of you? It’s called a rear view mirror and it lets you see what is behind you. That would be me. I don’t speak Hindi but I know what Saab and Ma’am mean. I know you are talking about me. STOP IT.

I remembered that I needed to get some cash. So, I asked driver 2 to stop at the ATM machine.

We stop at the ATM and now, ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a ballgame. Driver number 1 and driver number 2 are trying to see who is going to get to my door first to open it for me. They are like two kindergartners trying to be first in line for free ice cream and lizards.

While they are busy trying to out open each other, I turn slightly to the left and open my own friggin’ door. I have not completely forgotten how to take care of that for myself. And alas, I will need this simple skill in just a few weeks when I am left to my own devices in the U.S.

I went to the ATM and get money. Then back to the car. They’re at it again. Me first. No me first.

Seriously – I got it. It’s just a door – I can handle it. (get it?  “handle” it? door handle. hee hee)

And although, waiting in the 110 degree heat wasn’t that funny – and worrying about our driver is not what I would have picked to do – I can now see the humor in this. It has become a funny story.