After extensive research a la Kübler-Ross, I’ve determined that there are 6 stages of middle school math. Witness the process in my house tonight:
1. Denial. “I don’t have any homework.” Variations include “We had a sub today,” “I already did it in class” and “I can’t do it, the cat peed on it.”
2. Anger. “I never asked you to help me!” Variations include “I don’t care if I pass, it’s your problem if you care!” and “Mom, that’s NOT the way we learned it! You’re messing me up!” Decibel rates of whining and yelling vary depending on complexity of problems.
3. Bargaining. “If you’ll just let me go to bed now I’ll ask the teacher for help tomorrow” or “It’s okay if I get a few wrong, it’s still a D (as opposed to an F).”
4. Depression. Indicated by silence in bedroom after door slam while the weight of multiplying fractions crushes the middle schooler’s spirit. That, and the knowledge that if she has any hope of passing she has to accept help from the mother’s significant other because he apparently didn’t forget every stupid thing taught in the 6th grade like the mother did.
5. Acceptance. “Fine. Whatever.” Grudgingly listens to explanation and proceeds to solve one freaking problem after another.
6. Realization. Mother weeps quietly as she calculates the impact algebra is going to have on her wine budget.
Nothing like real life for inspiration. What’s that old saying about art imitating life?
Oh how I disliked math when I was a kid. Blech!