Thursday, April 18, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on March 16th, 2010, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 11, Issue 1 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 11, Issue 1

Math wars

The battle rages on, while Krider remains neutral


When I come home from work each day, I walk right into the middle of a battlefield. On one side stands my son: tall, good-looking, 13 years old. When he’s not being sarcastic, he’s mumbling, rendering communication with him quite difficult. On the opposing side is my wife, whom I love: beautiful, loving, intelligent, has a degree in mathematics. She doesn’t like to be wrong … ever. These two endure a war of the worlds over math homework each and every night. Me? I’m Switzerland; I try to stay neutral.

Math is one of those subjects that everyone struggles with growing up. Well, I shouldn’t say everyone, because my wife, who is essentially a mathematical genius, never had a single string of numbers ever give her grief. She’s like Vanilla Ice, “If there was a problem, yo I’ll solve it.” She’s so smart at math she can’t even comprehend how dumb the rest of us “normal idiots” can be, hence the ongoing conflict. If my son tells her, “I don’t get it,” she looks at him as if she can’t understand the words he’s speaking. Her only response is, “How can you not get this?”

In her defense, since my son is chronically sarcastic, if he says, “I don’t get it,” that could actually mean that he does get it. But when he’s talking about his math homework, he’s giving it to her straight: He totally doesn’t get it. My wife becomes frustrated, my son gets upset, and I get out of the room as quickly as possible.

Growing up in America in the late 20th century, I learned that if I ever run across any type of dilemma, I just have to divert the blame onto someone else. So, for the war that rages on in my house every night, I fully blame the math teacher. It’s easy to blame the instructor. C’mon, are there any other professions on the planet hated more than dentists and math teachers? The teacher should give less homework, make the problems easier, and allow the kids to use calculators. What could go wrong with that? Other than the obvious, where kids will grow up to be just as mathematically dumb as me with my bank account overdrawn and credit card companies raping me on interest rates.

Regardless of my attempts to blame the teacher, my wife and her first born continue to stress each other out on a nightly basis over math homework. My son hates it and my wife, who was actually a mathlete in high school, still can’t comprehend why our son can’t grasp how one-half is actually bigger than three-sixteenths (I see you counting on your fingers; trust me, one-half is bigger).

One of the reasons my son struggles with math is because his handwriting is atrocious. It’s not that he can’t add 2 plus 7 (that’s 9, people), he just can’t add a backwards 5 plus a squiggly 7 that resembles a 9 (making 14). He simply can’t read his own writing. Remember the three R’s in school: reading, ’riting, and ’rithmatic? He can’t read what he writes, so his arithmetic is a disaster.

Here is an example of a typical night in the numbers’ war zone:

“Did you finish your homework?”

“No,” says my sarcastic son, which means yes.

“Did you check your answers?”

“I don’t need to. The teacher checks them for me.”

“No, your teacher grades them for you and gives you a bad grade. You’re getting a D in math because you won’t check your answers.”

“D stands for done, Mom.”

“D also stands for dumb. You don’t want to be dumb like your dad, do you?”

“No one’s that dumb.” (Again with the sarcasm.)

“Then you need to check your work. Bring me your paper.”

This is the part of the evening when my son goes into his room and rummages through his backpack. Eventually he comes out with a wrinkled, torn, eraser-marked, piece of scrap paper with some hieroglyphics on it: “Here it is.”

“You missed the first problem.”

“No I didn’t. The teacher did the first problem on the board and I just copied it down.”

“10 plus 6 does not equal 19.”

“Oh, maybe that 6 is a 9.”

“Or is the 9 a 6? You need to make sure you copied the problem down correctly.”

“It’s not my fault the teacher wrote it down wrong on the board.”

“You sound like your dad: ‘Blame someone else.’ The teacher didn’t write the problem wrong, you copied it wrong.”

“I hate math.”

“Don’t say you hate math. Math is what makes the world work.”

“Okay, I love math then.”

“Don’t be a smartass.”

“Okay, I’ll be a dumbass.”

“Do you want my help or not?”

“No, I want to play Wii.”

“The Wii uses math.”

“When I use the Wii, I just use the controller.”

Rob took Algebra 1 three times.

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