Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm on the Hunt

I'm standing at the bottom of the stairs leading into the garage.  The herd of kids has unloaded from the van and I'm waiting for the dust from the stampede into the house to die down.  And to muster the courage to go into the fray and help the kids settled back into being home.  I'm also on the hunt for a smile from my boy ... they've been scarce today.

As I walk in the house, the family room is littered with school parts:  backpacks, paper, lunch boxes and a few shoes.  Aaron is plopped on the couch with his coat still on, browsing the newest Lego Magazine he just snagged from the mailbox.

"Hey, Buddy ... can you please finish your "I'm home from school" business before getting sucked in?"


... 10 minutes later ...

I head to the garage to get the bread out of the freezer and find that the floors are still covered in school stuff.  And Aaron has made himself comfortable on the couch.  Grrr ...

"Aaron, please take care of your school stuff.  Do you have homework to do?"

"Yeah.  I'll do it."

"Hey.  You already said that.  I need you to help me out."


"Yes, Mom?"

"Yes, Mom."

Aaron crawls off the couch and with the magazine in one hand he reads and rounds up his stuff.  As I watch him, he manages to hang his backpack on the hook (still packed with his old lunch), drop his sweatshirt behind the laundry room door and kick half of his shoes into the shoe bin.  That would leave one shoe sitting alone by the washing machine.  I'm good at math, eh?

As he heads back to the couch, I raise my eyebrows at him and clear my throat.

"ahem ... Is that job done well?  100%?"

"What?  Oh, sorry, Mom."

I swallow my overwhelming need to nag and head back to the kitchen, leaving him to finish his job.  A few minutes later he dumps his lunch box on the counter and plops down at the kitchen.

"Can I have a snack?"

"Sure.  We have granola bars or fruit.  Or octopus legs."

"I want some yogurt."  He pulls out his math homework.

"Sorry, Dude.  No yogurt.  I have fruit or granola .... ewww!  What is slimy inside your lunch box?"

"Oh, yeah.  I couldn't get the thermos lid back on.  I guess I'll wait for dinner."

"Okay ... just don't faint from hunger.  I'd hate for you to melt into a puddle."  He is not amused by my teasing.

He mumbles through his first math problem, writing, erasing, counting, erasing again.

"I don't get this!  Where's the calculator?"

"You can't use a calculator ... you need to figure this out.   The iPod already knows how to do math."  Still no smile.

"Can I help you out?  I'm pretty good at multiplication."

"How many times does 18 go into 90?  I have no idea."

I sit across from him at the table and peek at his work.  They are teaching this "new" math where they don't just learn the long division, they have to take the numbers apart and put the equations together in different ways.  I'm still unsure of the methods, but I jump right in.

"Well ... how many times does 15 go into 90?  And then we can do something with the other left-overs."

He grunts and doodles on his page.

"Uh ... 6?"

"Right.  Okay then how many do we have left over?"

"Three from each set of 6 ... that makes 18."

"Great.  I guess that means one more set of 18."

"Which means the answer is seven."

"Yep.  Now you just need to write that out so your teacher knows how we got there."

Aaron sighs and grumbles about "not knowing" and "too hard" and "how do I do that?"

I go back to my cooking and wonder if I'm ever going to get a smile out of my boy this afternoon.

"Uh, Mom.  I double-checked my work and you were totally wrong.  The answer is five, not seven!"

I turn to my boy ... who is beaming.  And laughing.  And holding his side.  And smiling.

"You were totally off!"

More laughter and head shaking and smiling.

"Well," I gather up my pride, "That's what you get for asking your mom for help with math.  You get the wrong answer, but the smile is free!"

Sometimes I get afraid that I will fall out of touch with my big guy.  Perhaps someday I won't be cool enough for him to enjoy hanging out with me.  Apparently, however, if I lose my coolness, I still have my faulty math skills to fall back on!

 13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, 
   but heartache (and long division) crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13, addition mine)

I'm so glad I found his smile ... it made my whole day.  

Even if it was at my expense!

Prompt #2 ~  Write about the last item you looked for. Why did you need it?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Day 6:  Me, Myself & I


  1. ha you're braver than me for even trying. i homeschool and plan on hiring a tutor when it comes to real math because i can't even do simple fractions most of the time!

  2. oh the growing boys...mine's 21 now. so hard to know sometimes how much to push and poke, and how much to "give them space"!! I have countless examples of this kind of dialogue I could share! He does love talking to me, I get a call now when he's down in the the years of hit and miss have paid off! I also love your take on the prompt ~ hunt for a smile. Great.

  3. I bet he fills you with wonderful smiles often. I don't look forward to helping with math homework.

  4. I love your approach to this writing prompt.

  5. Ahhh! I dread math homework beyond the 5th grade!!


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