Begin the beginning

(scene opens in mostly clean dinning room)

Me: (sets up laptops) Duolingo for everyone!
Kids: (groan)
Me: Come on, you can do this.

(ten minutes of failure noises from the computers)

Gamma: I don’t know anything!
Beta: This program is stupid, it doesn’t know anything.
Alpha: Why can’t I figure this out?
Me: (goes to check each computer screen, obviously struggling with calm) Okay. Somehow I failed to give you the explicit instruction to start on “Basic”. You realize you’re trying to do the levels that already assume a level of fluency?
Alpha: (defensively) There were less lessons at that level!
Me: But you don’t speak German!
Beta: But if there were only three exercises, how hard could it be? There are fourteen on the first level! That’s a lot harder!
Me: (facepalms) You need to learn how to say hello before you can recite poetry, guys.
Gamma: Hola, mama!
Beta: (snarls) That’s not German!
Me: (Throws up hands) SHE’S LEARNING SPANISH!

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Taken on faith

(scene opens up in tossed dining room, everyone on laptops)

Beta: (sounds of frustration) That doesn’t make sense!
Me: (getting up from chair) What’s the problem?
Beta: I’m doing powers and it keeps telling me I’m wrong! Six to the power of zero! It isn’t six or zero, so what is it?!? Khan Academy is broken!
Me: (stares at screen, recalls distant memory, types, computer makes victory noise)
Beta: (outraged) A one?!? How is six to the zero power a one?!
Me: I don’t remember why it is, it just is. (sits back down)
Alpha: Math is stupid.
Me: Math is the Universal Language, but sometimes language doesn’t make sense.