Sunday, October 25, 2009

Answers



I sat quietly on the couch this afternoon and watched the two heads bent together over Hedgie's math homework, and listened to their voices in earnest discussion: Hedgie's high little one piping up in interest, questioning, and Sarge's bass notes answering.

I remembered those dark winter evenings with my father, our heads together over my math homework, the lamplight glinting off his gold glasses, the red of his beard; I could hear the bass notes in his voice, the patient explanations, feel the sweet eureka moment as I understood the equation; I could see us together again.

34 comments:

otin said...

Ahh, such good memories! I remember that my Mother would never have any ideas of what I was doing.

Ronda Laveen said...

My mom was like Otin's. She counted on fingers and toes. But she was a very successful waitress and got really good and quick at it. My dad always was the teacher of education in my family too.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Hi Leah,

For me, that was a time of discovery. Gaining an understanding of mathmatical concepts, yet not having anyone to share my triumphs with. My grandmother would always smile but I could see she had no idea what I spoke of.

Both she and my mother encouraged me to study and that fueled my desire to achieve.

U

Candie Bracci said...

Thank you for that.The same scene with my grandfather and I.
I hate maths!lol

Pat said...

What a lovely picture - one to store in your memory bank.
I was lazy at school and always left revision till the last moment and my mother would say:
'You've done enough Pat it's time for bed.' and I would think despairingly 'God if only she knew.'
Miraculously I never failed an exam.

Ponita in Real Life said...

Good lord, that looks like Greek to me!

I am so bad with numbers, I don't dare use fingers and toes to count - I *must* use a calculator!

But those homework memories, with both my parents, depending on the subject, are with me still - and cherished highly!

The Unbearable Banishment said...

There will be no magic moment like this with my daughters. Not as far as math is concerned, anyway. I do not understand math and never have. I'm sure I'll be shelling out $$$ for a math tutor.

Now, literature and the arts? Step right this way...

e said...

I have really not so funny memories of my mother losing patience with me over maths and whacking me...I am happy that Hedgie will experience altogether better with Sarge.

MJ said...

I can't even manage to operate a calculator.

Karen ^..^ said...

Aww... I love so much your sensitivity in capturing a moment and savoring it's poignancy... But loving every moment of it.

Very sweet read, Leah.

Megan said...

I have no memories of that kind. We were just supposed to "get it" - and get it done! :)

I made sure to be a bit more available to the offspring - but now that he's in high school I'm lost - so I make Padraig do it.

Cinnamon said...

Every time I read about your daughter and Sarge, your little family unit, I feel in my bones that Hedgie is destined for something great- how else could this be, her having 2 parents who cherish and guide her so?

Tom said...

luckily my oldest was a whiz at math; he helped the 2nd and 3rd when they had troubles...i'm not sure i can even handle long division anymore. Nice story.

nick said...

What a charming counterpoint. I have a sister so in our childhood there must have been two piping voices alongside our father's deep one. But I don't recall him being so helpful with our schoolwork, I think he left it mostly to our (excellent) teachers.

I don't remember our equations being in Greek though....

Hunter said...

I see that you birthed the female equivalent of Doogie Howser. That's math homework for an 8-year-old?

plainolebob said...

Leah,
man that shot back some memories, I don't know math very good, and my dad was a whiz at it.
BIG HUGS
Bess says hi

Jimmy Bastard said...

I could hear a clock ticking a steady beat in the room, and the pride in your fathers voice as he realised the potential of his clever wee girl.

Leah said...

otin: memories of doing math with dad are some of my favorites. However, I'm not sure my mom had any idea of what I was doing either. And I'm going to leave the math to Sarge too!

Ronda: yeah, same with my mom. Although I'm pretty good at math now, I must admit to being a teensy bit lost when I look at Hedgie's homework!

U: I still have that feeling sometimes--when I've achieved something but can't find a way to express to anyone just what it was that I achieved. But I think that with academics, just having grownups to express pride even if the specifics are lost on them--that's all that is needed. Hey, I'm banking on that idea!

Candie: so you and your grand-dad would work on maths together? That's neat. I worked with my grandma too--she was a mathematician, in fact the math curriculum coordinator for the city. We're a really math-y family. But grad school is when I really came to enjoy it...

Pat: I was a kamikaze-style student all the way through my masters degree (s), and I too always did well! But it's certainly living on the edge to leave it all till the last moment...

Leah said...

Ponita: yeah, they are great memories, aren't they. And you're right, that's Greek! Despite the fact that Homeric Greek was my college minor, I am lost in that place where Greek and math meet...thank goodness Sarge was there...

UB: I had always hoped that Hedgie could turn to me sometimes for help with her maths, just so that I could show her that women can do it too. However...she's only in third grade, and I'm already sending her to her dad. Oh well. Each parent brings their own special skills and talents to the table, right?

e: I'm thankful that he's patient, because I know that parents can get frustrated over homework. I was lucky too as a child, and I'm glad for Hedgehog. Of course, my violin teacher and her shrieky rapping of my knuckles...that's another story!

MJ: luckily there's no more math homework, right? Or perhaps down in the oubliette, as a special punishment...

Karen: this was a little bit of a sad moment for me, too. Poignant is a better word, as you say--there was a sudden sharp feeling of missing my dad terribly.
xo

Megan: look at me, I'm already lost and she's only in third grade! I'll just chalk it up to their curriculum being wacky...

Leah said...

Cinnamon: that is such a sweet comment, it means the world to me. It's always hard as a parent to know whether you're getting it right--and of course, you won't always, but I try to look at the bigger picture (ignoring totally the morning battles over hairbrushing and candy, the moods and vicissitudes!)

Tom: that is very nice, when siblings can help each other! I think long division may be my last stand, before I would need major review...but she already passed through that last year...

nick: In my case, I believe I needed my dad because I would sometimes, um, space out in math class and miss the gist of it. He was never judgmental, though, which was a good thing, as he could easily have scolded me for not paying attention!

Hunter: hah! Doogie Howser. Yes, I mean, like, wtf? I could make neither hide nor tail of that homework, truth be told...Sarge offered to explain it to me, but I politely declined...

plainolebob: I'm glad you got some good memories going from this! There's nothing like a helpful, math-y dad. And hi back at Bess!

Jimmy: There was a real non-metaphorical little clock ticking in my study, on the shelf above the desk! You reminded me of that. It's amazing the details that will come back to you suddenly, when you're missing someone.

Brian Miller said...

beautiful memory...i love reliving them through our boys...i will be the one stuck witht he math homework...lol.

mapstew said...

Just wonderful.

I love watching our three doing homework together at the big dining table. Heads down, pens in mouths, helping each other. I fear they are way too clever these days and don't need help from Mom & Dad.
I do get to help with Geography sometimes though, and Irish language.

Happy thoughts.

xxx

mago said...

Maths ... horrible ...

My mother only went to school for four years. But together we learned the Latin Grammar and the irregular verbs.

Maria said...

I don't have good memories about math. Liv probably does, but not from me. She is already doing string theory. I sort of just stand there looking at her, trying to figure out how this child came from my genes.

And did I mention that I love visiting your blog? I always feel like I have stepped into an interesting moment in time.

Skeeter said...

Hi Leah,

Very nicely done :-)

Best wishes,

Skeeter

Baino said...

Aww what a lovely moment. Although one thing my father and I could never agree on was the process of maths. Things had changed since his day!

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Sweet. If I ever had a Eureka moment in math, I wish I could remember it! -Jayne

Mr. Shife said...

It is great when you have one of those moments that you remember time with your dearly departed. I had one the other day remembering my Mom while I was with Baby Shife. Glad you got to remember a great time with your father. Take care.

Madame DeFarge said...

Unfortunately, my memories of my dad and my maths homework are rather different. I am still waiting for that eureka moment.

Anonymous said...

Jeeze - is the math curriculum at our alma mater catching up to the humanities?

Did we even get homework in 3rd grade? I don't remember homework starting till the next year, when we were schooled in the use of our "assignment notebook."

Okay, this is driving me crazy. Should I be able to solve Ella's homework with only what's shown in this jpg? Is there a first page? Can Sarge guest blog on this assignment?

XO

Al

Leah said...

Al--there's a key actually, with numbers correlating to letters--E had to fill it in first. It was a kind of combined logic/arithmetic puzzle. The key helps. Sorta. I mean, it makes it solveable.

You know, this year they have an assignment notebook so that they can practice for 4 th grade. They also have science class in the big kids' building, and gymnastics in the "gym app" room on the 10th floor--it's exactly the same as it used to be in there, except they added a rock wall! That crazy rope ladder wall is still there.

Leah said...

Brian: you will be stuck with it, but I bet you'll love every moment of it!

Map: that is a lovely picture of your three around the table together. Bonding over academics is some of the best kind of bonding.

mago: that is so cool about you and your mother studying Latin. I would have enjoyed a Latin study partner at home, but for some reason it never happened...

Maria: Liv and Hedgie seem to have some very nice similarities! And I am constantly amazed at how Hedgie is unlike me, too. I like it, I must say.

And thank you so much for the sweet comment. As I am quite a fan of your blog, it means a lot.

Skeeter: hugs!

Baino: that's true, math pedagogy and curriculum actually does change over the decades, although wouldn't you think it would be mostly static? It seems partly influenced by trends, actually.

Jayne: the math eureka moment is SO fabulous! I wish I could have one every day, lol.

Mr. Shife: you must have a lot of these moments when you're hanging with the baby--in fact, I thought of you the other day when I was missing dad. I hope you're doing okay. But yes, you're right, the memories can be very nice--bittersweet, but good at the same time.

Mme DeF: ah, but when the eureka moment finally comes, it will be all that much sweeter for having waited and waited! ; ) yes I know, I used an emoticon...

Hit 40 said...

My dad told me that I was on my own after Algebra One. And good luck to me!!! My parents never supervised my homework. They didn't even care if I did it. Very odd!!!

The Idle Devil said...

My dad helped me with math a lot but it was a bit painful to sit with him and try his patience.