Basic Math

(scene opens in afternoon dining room, argument in progress)

Me: (exasperated) You’re racking up a list of missing assignments! Where are they? Are you eating them?!
Alpha: (sullen, stomps out of the room, comes back with piles of papers) Here they are!
Me: (shocked) You had them this whole time? Why didn’t you turn them in?!
Alpha: (darkly) I couldn’t figure out these problems. (points to various problems on different pages)
Me: (trouble processing) So…you couldn’t figure out a single problem out of twelve and so you didn’t turn it in?
Alpha: (defensive) Yeah.
Me: (voice from the grave) So, instead of getting five 80% homework assignments turned in, you opted for five zeros.

(long pause)

Alpha: Yeah. I’m doing them all right now, aren’t I?
Me: (resigned) Honestly, I don’t care if you do them or not, but you’re turning in all these worksheets in tomorrow and you’ll be lucky to get 30% on them for being late. But better than zeros. Goddamnit, Alpha, some is better than none when talking about grades and money.

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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.

Math is hard

(scene opens in sweatshop living room)

Beta: (getting up from laying on the floor reading) Going to the bathroom, mom. I must have read…like…thirty pages!
Me: (tracing pattern) Well, considering that the pages are numbered, if you’re on page thirty you did indeed read thirty pages.
Beta: True. (leaves room)
Me: (puts down chalk, checks Harry Potter book on the floor.)

(Camera close up on pg 75)

Bell Curves

(scene opens in mini-van on ride home, math & physics discussion in progress)

Me: And that’s why I’m glad you decided you wanted to go to band camp. Music, language, and math all use the same part of the brain.
Beta: So I guess this means I’m really smart.
Me: (smirk) Kinda.
Beta: (offended) Kinda?!
Me: Intelligence isn’t a black/white issue of you’re either dumb or smart but more of a sliding scale. I think I might be moderately educated, but someone like Stephen Hawking probably thinks I’m a moron.
Beta: (dawning awareness) So you’re smarter than some people and some people are smarter than you! So Gamma is smarter than Delta, I’m smarter than Gamma, Alpha is smarter than me, you’re smarter than Alpha and dad is smarter than you!
Me: (narrow side eye)
Beta: Uh, reverse that?
Me: (stern lecture voice) Okay, now we talk about how it isn’t “age brings wisdom”, despite the fact I’m older that your father, but age brings the opportunity for more experience and experience brings wisdom.