Thursday, February 05, 2009
Math and Me
I met with The Child's teacher last month to get his report card. His grade in math isn't great but she told me not to worry because the school has a really tough math program. "We're about to start on geometry," she added.
The Child is in first grade.
"You're kidding." I thought surely she was pulling my leg.
"We're going to learn about vertexes."
I nodded knowingly and winced for effect, like, Whew, those vertexes, that's something, when in reality, I have no idea what a vertex is. I'm guessing it pertains to angles. Or something.
No math scholar am I.
When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher, a hateful woman named Mrs. Guy who I suspect didn't like children at all, told my mother that I wasn't doing well in math and she thought it was because I was interested in B-O-Y-S. My mother was thinking, "I know you did not just spell a word to me."
When my mother told me, I was all, "Duh. Who wouldn't be more interested in boys than math?”
I did well on the ACT test my junior year in high school, which allowed me to take college courses the summer before my senior year in high school. In a shocking move that showed reasoned thought and planning, I signed up for summer session college algebra at the nearby community college.
I got to class early and stayed late. I did my homework, every bit of it. I hated it, like I disliked all math and everything math stood for, but I did it. At the end of the class, I'd earned a C. That was the hardest I'd worked for a middling grade but let me tell you: I was PROUD of that C. Still am.
Years later, I cleverly planned my college major around anything that didn't require any additional math courses. I thought about interior design and thumbed through the college bulletin to the required classes. Math, math, chemistry, chemistry. Nope. Next!
My senior year I was required to take Senior Math. To this day, I bet Mrs. Domino, bless her heart, holds a hand to her forehead when she hears my name. That class was a combination of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. A trifecta of evil.
The algebra I actually sorta got. You solve for x and the two sides had to equal. That makes sense. (Thank you, Dr. Snowden.)
Geometry was a mystery. The words could have been written in Russian for all I could understand a word of it. Mrs. Domino asked me why I didn't stop her and ask for help when I got lost. I told her I didn't know enough to ask a question.
Trigonometry made me want to cry, did, in fact, once or twice.
Then I remembered that I'd taken college algebra. I needed no other math classes for the rest of my life, the end. That's when I caught senioritis. I went to Senior Math, of course. I sat there and was quiet. I probably read a novel – Jackie Collins or Sidney Sheldon – during class. I didn't attempt any homework and looked blankly at tests when she passed them out.
From my first report card in kindergarten until then, I had only once had something less than an A or B on my report card. I think that was the year before in Chemistry (shaking my fist at sciences). My entire senior year I had a big fat ugly F in senior math. Were my parents proud. It should have bothered me more than it did. It bothered me not all. I'd taken college algebra. And passed it. With a C! I was a rock star!
Thank goodness we have The Fiancé to help The Child with his geometry homework. In first grade.