It’s been a busy week at the Goodnight/Gram homestead. Busy doesn’t necessarily always equate to fun. That’s particularly true when it comes to balancing homework and girls’ fast-pitch softball.
My rule is homework first. That means before GN gets to don her helmet and glove, she must spend quality time with some characters she doesn’t particularly like: trinomials. I think she would rather eat brussels sprouts and she doesn’t like them at all.
Gram: How’s the homework going?
GN: I gotta get to softball practice.
Gram: Not until you finish your algebra.
GN: He gave us 35 problems!
Gram: You best keep going. How many have you finished?
Gram: Let me know if you need help.
Gram: That would be “please, HELP,” but I’ll meet you at the dining room table in three minutes. (To myself: Three minutes? What was I thinking? Not enough time to brush up on trinomials in order to help her. Not enough time to bake a cake that would make the algebra more palatable. But . . . plenty of time to make tea for both of us and to offer a quick prayer of intercession to Saint Hubert, patron of mathematics.)
Goodnight met me at the dining room table where we set ourselves up with her algebra book, the tea I just made and LOTS of scratch paper. We went to work on the problems.
Gram: What don’t you understand?
GN just tapped the book.
Gram: I’m sorry, I didn’t see which problem you pointed to.
GN: I didn’t point to any problem. I don’t get any of it.
Gram; Well you’ve understood enough to complete the first three problems, so that’s a start.
GN: We did those together in class.
Gram: I see. (To myself: “Who does the Gram get to ask for help, again? I think I’m missing that page in my Grammy rule book.)
I looked at the clock and then I looked at the task in front of us. “We better get going if we are going to get through this in time for softball practice.
GN: I know! We only have two and a half hours!!!
Gram: (To myself: It’s gonna take me the first hour and a half just to remember that far back . . .) We can do this!
What followed was a combination of silence, calm explanations, teenage bewilderment, senior citizen bewilderment, pencil sharpening, erasing, and lots of writing! Step by step, by step, by painstaking step. One of us had full control of her ‘inside voice’ and one of us . . . needed to be reminded to modulate the volume.
At the one hour mark, I was re-thinking my Lenten resolution to set a constant example of patience. After an hour and a half, I wanted more tea, but we were hitting a stride and I didn’t want to interrupt the pace. At the two hour mark, my granndaughter was working more of the problems without any discussion from me.
GN: This is actually fun, isn’t it Grammy?
Gram: Yes, but I like going to the dentist even more . . .
If there was any fun in the algebra session, it was the moment when trinomials ‘clicked for her. It showed on her face.
As she finished up the last problem, she quietly slipped away from the table. I secretly hoped she was going to need a nap after our session, but she soon came down in her softball practice clothes.
Gram: Are you hot? (She was wearing shorts.)
GN: Not now, but I thought I might be in about ten minutes.
I rose from my seat at the table, grabbed the car keys and took her to softball practice. She was only five minutes late.
Gram: Tell your coach that I require homework to be completed first.
GN: Don’t worry, Gram. I won’t be the last one there and the other late girls won’t even be doing their algebra.
We’ve had three of those sessions this week.
It’s still very early, but I know what I want for Christmas: just some scratch paper. By then GN will be in high school and she has already registered for another algebra class. I tried to encourage her to take Geometry.