It’s Tuesday night. Odie is in our room with Viva, taking a nap while she falls asleep. They just finished reading Richard Scarry stories, which delights me. I loved those stories as a child, and it’s gratifying to see my child enjoying them too. I’m not sure why. Nostalgia? Narcissism?
I can see them on the video baby monitor (sound turned off) and I know she’s giving him the usual bedtime struggle. She wants to change her pillow three different times. She wants this blanket, then she doesn’t want it. She wants that one. Then she wants the first one again. She asks to sleep in our bed. Asks again with an endearing “Pleeeeeeeeeease,” as if that were what was missing from her original inquiry. Odie is ignoring her. He is going to take a nap until 9:30 p.m. at which time I’ll wake him up and he will do schoolwork until midnight or one in the morning. He’ll get up at 5:30 in the morning and leave the house by 6:30 to be at work 40 minutes early and do some more work.
The life of a high school math teacher.
I’m completely serious.
I keep begging him to restructure his class so that they don’t have homework every night, two quizzes a week and a test every two weeks. Because it’s killing him and it isn’t helping them. He complains bitterly about how many students are failing the class already (it’s October!). I brushed our cat who sheds like a mofo and ended up with a big bag of hair. Odie looked at it ruefully and wondered if he should try teaching it Algebra 2.
Most people don’t get math. They don’t like it and they don’t care. Hating math is a national pastime, like baseball and outsourcing jobs to China. “Do the math” is an expression in our culture meaning “make the obvious conclusion.” Yet Americans either can’t or won’t do the math, which may be part of why obvious conclusions are reached so rarely. And with a 40-65% accuracy.
We need to stop teaching our children to hate math.
We TEACH them to hate math. We lead by example. Kids love numbers and counting. And they’re good at it.
Maybe if people had a better understanding of what numbers do, it wouldn’t have been so easy for Wallstreet to fuck so many of us over. We always want to leave the math to someone else, but it’s kind of like not knowing anything about your car. The mechanic has too much power.
(I know nothing about my car)
Mostly, I just hate to watch my loved ones suffer, and Odie suffers cruelly. In part, that’s his personality. He’s a sufferer. In addition to that, he is passionate and talented in an area most of us despise and fear.
At Macy’s on Saturday, I bought Pringles the cutest onesies. The woman working the register asked me if I wanted to open a Macy’s charge account, enticing me with “20% off of your purchase today.” I replied that the APR on the card was reported as 24.6%, so how was that saving me anything? Gotcha! I almost added, “You’re not fooling me!” but then I realized I should save that for when I’m in my seventies and it’s time for me to imagine I’m constantly being tricked.
I wish I’d known something about credit card interest when I was in college. Right next to the cafeteria, there were tables set up with attractive smiling people offering me free money in the form of credit cards. And I got a t-shirt! A t-shirt with their logo on it, so not only did I hand over a ridiculous monthly stupid tax, I advertised their company for free. (But there were BALLOONS!) It took me years to get out from under that debt. Years I could have been building a nest egg.
My girls are going to learn about math.
That trip to Europe I couldn’t afford so I put on my new credit card wasn’t fun anyway. Much.