Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dreaded Timed Math Test Mansion

Once upon a time before I was a cranky mama, I was a happy, well-adjusted, patient 4th grade teacher.  I adored this job.  Loved the kids, read-alouds, recess, science units, all of it.  Well, mostly all of it.  All of it but the homework.  Such a waste of God-given time; creating, assigning and grading.  I mean really.  Teachers hate it, parents hate it and kids hate it.  It was only a matter of time before that trifecta hit our house full-force.  Now I'm a former teacher who hates it, a parent who hates it with kids who hate it. 

I would never spread this crank rhetoric to my kids aloud. That would be foolish.  So I complain to my husband instead.  And at this point I have little to complain about.  Kindergarten was rough, but the amount of homework has actually subsided now that our girls are 2nd and 3rd graders.  So now it's not necessarily the homework amount, but the nightly practice of the dreaded timed math tests.  Or DTMT's, as I will now refer to them.   If this were a movie, it would open like this:

"Timed Math-test Mansion"
(you'll never get out alive)

*Ominous thunder and lightning open around a haunted dilapidated mansion.  Shot pans into two filthy, emaciated little girls in a dungeon, pounding out their math facts on a dirt floor with sticks.  In the background screams and moans are floating down the hallway of "the kids who didn't pass".  

Bella: "Mama.  What is 14-6? Mama?!  I know you know.  Why is this so HARD?"
Gabby: "Shhhh.  I need to CONCENTRATE!"
Bella: "It would be great if this was done and I could read.  Just read, read, read, readreadread...or do cursive."
Gabby: "BELLA!  SHHHHHHHHHH!  I can't do this with you TALKING and talking and TALKING!"

*more thunder and lightning and sounds of rats scurrying.

Suddenly you hear a faint raspy female voice from the cell next to the girls:

Mama: "Girls.  Just think about it like two sets of apples.  There are 14.  Seven in each pile and then you take one from one pile and give it to another and ....mmmm.  Apples. Wait.  What was I saying?  Just finish the sheet of problems so we can leave this EVIL PLACE!"

Aaron has a very different take on math.  Being an engineer, he would.  I was a theater major.  Yes.  A theater major.  I took a self-paced set of math classes at CU thinking it would be easier.  It wasn't.  I took several of them over.  Yes.  I failed self-paced math. 

Aaron: "Well, I don't understand the stigma behind math.  It's the one subject where there is a right and wrong.  It's not like you don't know what's on the test.  Or the answer.  You study. Mystery solved."


So last night we went to watch and cheer for Aaron at a bike race.  Being a school night, we took our homework.  This consists of a tote bag with the following:
  • snacks
  • water
  • coffee for me (5 o'clock, shmive o' clock)
  • a clear plastic pocket that holds the DTMT's (100 problems)
  • two dry erase markers
  • an old sock to erase between practices
  • reading folders
  • books
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • glue
  • and a razor blade to slit my wrists when things go bad on the homework front
Well at about lap one, things did in fact go badly.  The dust from the course set off Bella's allergies into a full-blown sneezing fit.  Which she and I found hilarious.  Gabby, who was working on the DTMT's, did NOT find this funny.  She scowled as she fired off, "Bella!  STOP SNEEZING!  I'm trying to do my MATH!"
"Well, I can't (sneeze) help it (sneeze)!"

Next, Aaron "rolled a wheel".  Which means his tire came off his wheel and he crashed.  He was also none too pleased and now his facial expression matched Gabby's.  Things went from bad to worse and soon Gabby was laying down on the blanket in the fetal position.  I was just reaching for the razor blade to slice and dice the math sheet (Not my wrists!  Studies show that women just don't do that outside the bathtub because they view it as too messy.), when the race finally ended and we called it quits.

Later, as I was putting Gabby to bed, the tears flowed and it turned out she had a really bad day.  It was kind of like the scene in Goonies where Chunk is confessing to the Fratellis all the bad stuff he's done and crying and sobbing.  

Only she hadn't done anything, she was just really sad that the DTMT's had been moved up two days early due to field day and she had done really badly (in her eyes).  And she had to sit by the mean kids.

How do we get out of this horrid Mansion?  It's truly an old black-and-white episode of the Twilight Zone.  I envision Rod Serling just sitting on our steps narrating the whole damn mess night after night.  

Aaron has sort of taken over on this.  I think he's worried that I've passed on my crappy math skills to the girls in vitro.  Which may be the case.   Either way.  From now on, I'm keeping a pot on hand night after night until we move onto the next, sub-floor of the mansion...Multiplication.

*cue thunder and lightning as Rod Serling narrates the questions below:

Do you need a magnet to hold up last week's failure of a test, thereby rocking your child's self-esteem?

Or perhaps something to carry it all when your homework isn't at home?


  1. Love it! Sounds a lot like our house, except we have Josie holding flash cards for Izzy and yelling, "2, 2, 2".
    BTW . . . Goonies is my favorite! Especially Chunk:)

  2. Too funny Katie!