Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Hate Homework

One thing I realized very early on in my parenting career was that I was not inclined to help my son with homework. I mean, I already did 18 years of homework, I've had enough. It all seemed to be going fine until one 3rd Grade parent teacher conference when it was revealed that Max had stopped doing his homework recently. Pretty smart, he realized that we weren't checking and the teacher didn't give him a lot of trouble over it, so why bother? We ended that nonsense and in the 6 years since haven't had any consistent trouble.

On occasion I've been asked for assistance with math, but I found that I remembered nothing of algebra or formulas, though I can proudly brag that I got a perfect score on the algebra regents exam. See how far that gets you? It's absolutely true, math is not a useful subject in the real world. Slim remembers a lot of Spanish so he is the walking dictionary. And if I ever do ask to see an essay for English or Social Studies it turns into a big fight over carelessness (ie he rarely uses punctuation or proper capitalization) so we stopped doing that early on. I'd rather have bad grades than a fight over grammar. I guess that is until he can't get into college, then I will regret not having done his homework for him like his friends.

Now, high school. The work is harder and there is rarely a night where he is finished with homework before 11pm. My main commentary is to yell periodically "turn off the tv" or "stop watching you tube" when I hear a sound that doesn't sound like homework coming from his room. And the subject matter has changed since the 1970's. I guess they have made strides in science and math. It's not all Fibonacci numbers and formulas for velocity. Today my son told me they are learning about rotational symmetry. Huh? What? Not even a bell rings in my chronically ringing right ear. Now read the Wikipedia entry and tell me if you know what it is. No, you don't. And neither do I. Nor does Max for that matter.

So last night was actually the first time I had to help him extensively. The project was to choose a public building and calculate various things (volume etc), diagram it, and make a scale model. Max chose the cube in Astor Place. Sounds simple, it's just an 8-foot cube. I told him he was lazy to choose something so easy (yes I am mean as well as snarly). He retorted that he also calculated the base.

BUT who ever considered that the damn thing is balanced on its corner, an impossible feat to recreate in cardboard. After hours of fiddling with all kinds of crap: glue guns, painters tape, scotch tape, packing tape, putty from physical therapy to exercise a bad wrist, toothpicks, chopsticks and skewers, I opened a cabinet looking for a miracle and found a tub of plumbers putty (yay new sink cabinet!! sorry I removed the photos I had posted due to paranoia). With a metal rod (only Slim has weird stuff like that hanging around) through the center, we were able to get it to stay in the putty hidden underneath a shoebox. And it SPINS just like the real one.

So lesson of the day: the cube in Astora Place is formally called The Alamo.

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