Math

You know what I hate?  Hate more than the one exercise I can’t do in my exercise video because my belly roll gets in the way? Hate more than the x-ray technician saying “I need to do the left breast one more time because I missed some tissue?”  Hate more than paying for car insurance for 2 teenage boy drivers (which is slightly less than the GNP of Madagascar)?

I hate math. More specifically, high school math.  Gimme back potty training, gimme back teaching to tie shoes, gimme back up every 3 hours to breast feed a screaming baby.  I’ll take it all to not have to suffer through my son struggling with his math class. I can’t do it for him, even if I wanted to. Not that he needs to “conquer this battle without Mommy’s help.”  I literally CAN’T help him. I can’t do the math. Sometime in the mid 90s, in grad school, I probably had a fighting chance to give him an educated guess, but not so much anymore. Starting around 7th grade, math has been his nemesis. His Voldemort. His kryptonite.  His Ivan Drago. He’s a pretty average kid all around, some things come easy, some things he has to work for, but in math he just feels like he is totally defective.

He has inherited (or been bullied into) our sarcastic sense of humor, he can be even more of a neat freak than me some times (yay!), he’s fun to be around, makes great popcorn, and loves our cats with a passion. I love him with all the love a Mom can possess. But nothing can bring down the party like an algebra homework assignment. We can be having a laugh filled family dinner, planning our summer vacation, talking about sunshine and unicorns, and then the dreaded question rears its ugly head:  “do you have any homework?” We go from smiling to miserable faster than 45 can tweet #alternatefacts to a CNN story.

My husband wonders why I like watching “My 600 LB Life” and “Hoarders”…I think I know why, at least 1 reason. Other than being what I would consider REAL reality shows, where else do you get to see such transformations, such progress, such success in under 60 minutes?  You go from shitty life to way less shitty life uber fast. It’s a pretty little success package with a bow on top. I love it. Algebra is not subject to such pleasures. It’s a nightmare, wrapped up in a bag of shit, delivered to your dining room table on a tray of rotting hamburger meat with maggots. Nothing is solved in 60 minutes. It’s everyday. Every fucking day. I hate what it does to him. I hate how it makes him feel.  And subsequently, how it makes us feel. It makes us all unhappy, frustrated, crying piles of math hating people.

Brendan is a trooper though. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without him. He sits with him, day after day, hour after hour, trying to help him understand.  He uses props, folks.  But he’s reached his breaking point several times.Then there is cursing. Because here’s the issue. If we are working harder than he is to help him succeed in math, then something is wrong.  And it’s the same conversation day after day, month after month, year after year. When you are bad at something, the only way to get better is to work at it.  Not just a little, but a LOT. Everyday. You have to do more work than the kid who breezes through math. Or even the kid who gets a B or C. Or D. The lectures, my God. It’s a CD on endless replay. He’s in 11th grade, there is no more time, there is only white knuckling til mid-June when school is done. And guess who doesn’t want to do the work to be successful?  And then guess who gets pissed that the other one doesn’t want to do the work?  And then guess who feels just sad and defeated and wants to make it all better with hugs and warm milk? Circle of hell.

He hates that he struggles and others don’t.  His internal dialogue is “I can’t do it. Studying won’t help. My teacher can’t help. I’m lost. I’ll fail no matter what.” And now on top of all that is college looming in the not so distant future.  You can eliminate all math careers from the mix easily enough, but it’s still another pressure to pile on top. For those who have kids where academics come easy, be so so so relieved, because this side of the aisle sucks. How do you convince your kid that they have worth even though they fail? Will a bad math grade keep him from success in life?  Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass. You still have to push them to do better, do more, work harder.  I tell him that we do it out of love. Other kids get crappy grades and their parents don’t care. We are on your side, we want you to be successful, be happy. We will always be your biggest cheerleaders. Brendan’s favorite line:  We’ll work with you, but we won’t work without you. You HAVE to do the work. You can’t avoid it. It’s not going away. It’s mentally exhausting for everyone.

He does every assignment, he does some math everyday, but it’s still not enough. I tell him everyone struggles in something. Or many things. It all seems to fall on deaf ears though. His next bad test grade is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I failed because I told you I can’t do it. For those of you who haven’t had school-aged kids in the recent past, you can now get almost up to the minute grades online. It’s a blessing and a curse. If you are familiar with this and are on Team Math Sucks with me, you will know the feeling in your gut, as you log in, click on assignments and hold your breath, waiting to see the latest test grade. Hoping, fingers crossed, praying to the math gods that it’s not a failing grade. And then there’s the disappointment. It’s heart wrenching because you know what’s coming next. Another lecture, more tears, solidifying the mantra “I can’t do it.”

Sorry to say, I have no happy ending here. There’s no magic math pill. We are engaged parents, given him every leg up possible, love, support, encouragement. In the final analysis, is he just plain ol’ bad at math? If that’s true, I’m totally ok with that. I truly am. I’m not particularly good at it myself and I love him just the way he is. But the greater lesson here is that he has to try. God helps those who help themselves. Help me help you. Seriously, like The Little Engine That Could. Change the narrative in your head. Persevere. Hammer away. Make math your bitch. And if at the end of the the day, it’s a C, I’ll be the first to congratulate you because I will know you tried. Now I’m going to take my parenting pity party and have a glass of wine. Anyone have some math to do?

Pissed Off or Pissed On?

Do you ever have a bad mood day, that you just are ok with? You decide, I am taking this crappy mood and nurturing it. I’ll pet it and feed it and make it part of my every move. I’ll own this bitch, make it my middle name. I will purposefully have thin skin and let every little thing get to me. I will write less than super friendly emails, eavesdrop on conversations that just make me want to strangle someone. Things that don’t affect me, I’ll still get up in arms about them, think that person was out to get me, just me. Be annoyed at happy pictures and statuses on FB, be irritated with people that want something from me, temporarily forget what empathy is and replace it with apathy. Things and people that don’t normally get to me, will make me want to spit nails. Envy and slothfulness and wrath will be my mantra.  10 commandments?  Forget that, I’m all about the 7 deadly sins.

Just as we can choose to be happy, can we choose to be mad? Is it ok to let those negative emotions flow, just for a day? Is it like one of those juice cleanses? Better on the other side of a good old fashioned shit fit? What about acting happy when you’re not, can’t that cause some sort of health problems?  An aneurysm or eye twitch, or some such physical manifestation from holding in my bad mood. So many times we just let things slide and go on about our day, not expressing typically negative opinions and thoughts because 1) what’s the point, you can’t change stupid 2) none of your business anyway 3) my Mom always taught me if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.   But what about the people that are mean to me? Attack me for something that isn’t under my control?  Why are some people the punching bag and others get to be Mike Tyson?  Today I want to be like Mike.

It’s not anyone or anything in particular. It’s everyone. And everything. Work, home, family, friends, no one is exempt today. It’s what you’re wearing, what you’re saying, your whining and complaining, you’re doing it wrong, you won, you lost.  I don’t care. You’re forgetting, you need me to clean up your mess, it’s broken, it’s ugly, you’re making bad choices.  It’s all like fingernails on a chalkboard to me today.  Is this what serial killers feel like? Coffee, food, exercise, sleep, wine, nothing will make it better today. Ok, maybe wine.  But I doubt it. I’m right, you’re wrong.  You’re too slow, too lazy, a slacker, wimpy, and I don’t want to deal with you today.  I can’t pretend today.

Today I’m not doing your job. Today I’m not putting up with your stupid requests. Today I’m not feeling sorry for you. Today I don’t care if you feel sick. Today I’m not feeling guilty for ignoring you or snapping at you. I just can’t. It’s not you, it’s me. Today I’m just gonna put my head down, do my duty and go to bed. Bad attitude you say? Damn straight. And then tomorrow, I’ll probably wake up just fine.  I’ll go back to smiling, playing nice, being excited for you, helping you, going out of my way to make it better for you, laughing, being compassionate. And I’ll be happy to do it. Back to my normal, fun loving, helpful and funny self. But right now, I’m taking my toys and going home.

 

Today’s Top Stories

Sorry for my absence, for those of you who care.  End of the year school activities had me unable to form complete sentences.

A lot of very touchy subjects are in the news spotlight right now.  It’s enough to make me want to swear off Facebook and media in general.  Everyone is pissed about something.  Many are about pissed about everything.  Some are pissed about nothing, but I don’t know any of those people.  As I’ve constructed my opinion on these matters, whether just in my head or verbalized to my friends who I know will agree with me, the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m pretty laid back about everything.  Or just too lazy to be really passionate about any one of these topics.  I have opinions, and I like to express them, but they aren’t always based on years of research, or some staunchly held religious belief.  I just think them because I do.  I have some rationales, but not always.  I generally don’t try to persuade people to my side of the fence, so I think it’s ok to just have an opinion. In any case…

#1-Gay Marriage-or as you’ve heard some call it, “Marriage”  Truth is I can’t say anything smart that you haven’t already heard in the past week since SCOTUS made their ruling.  I think it’s just fine and dandy if homosexuals want to get married.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  Not in a religious sense, not in a political sense, not in a sexual sense, not in any sense.  Some will say I have no sense.  And I’m ok with that.  My religion does think being homosexual is a sin, although we don’t exactly talk about it much.  It was a 5 paragraph article on the 4th page of the quarterly national newsletter. The equivalent of “Cat Show Spectacular in Tuscaloosa” news coverage.  I don’t agree.  Plain and simple.  I think God made homosexuals just they way they are and they deserve the legal benefits of a binding marriage contract.

#2-Sub-text of #1 Gay Marriage opinion-I also think homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children.  The homosexuals couples I know that are raising children are doing a bang up job.  Whereas on the other hand, I’ve witnessed some seriously fucked up heterosexuals doing their best, yet pathetic, version of a sideshow act of parenting I’ve ever seen.  I’m not saying sterilization should be legal…but I have a really long list of those who should be first in line should it ever come to that.  Lots of unwanted children out there, give them a loving parent, gay or straight, and they have a fighting chance in this world.

#3 Confederate Flag nonsense-Stop flying it over government buildings like a badge of honor.  Otherwise, leave it be.  We can’t rewrite or make disappear all the shitty history we’d rather forget.  We don’t have to worship former symbols of hatred, but rather teach what was and learn to be better.  And Dukes of Hazard rules!

#4 Gun Violence- We own a handgun and several WWII display rifles.  I hate all the gun violence that rips families apart on a daily basis across our country (not just Detroit, folks…).  It shames me that our country’s price for our right to bear arms is such tragedy. Like the war on drugs, I’m fairly certain there is not an answer to this question that will EVER work.  Law abiding citizens will never give up their right to lawfully own guns while criminals will abuse that right and kill innocent people. It just makes me sad.

#5 Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy-refer to previous statement about sterilization.

#6 Rob Stark being killed off on Game of Thrones-The red headed witch lady better bring him back to life next season or someone is gonna be in a world of hurt.

#7 USA Women’s Soccer Team-They won the World Cup in glorious fashion!  Being a soccer household, of course we were watching, but I know plenty of non-soccer freaks that also were engrossed.  Win for the sport, win for the ladies, win for USA!

So here is where I leave you today. There will be friends and family who disagree with my opinions, and that’s perfectly ok with me. They of course are entitled to their opinions as much as I am.  My opinions are not up for debate any more than theirs are. What these hotly discussed issues have brought to the forefront of my mind is that I need to be as respectful of those who I feel are on the “wrong” side of the fence, as I expect them to be of me.  And in that vein, what I’ve found that works is seriously just to stop reading.  I get sucked into the comments on a Facebook post, full of “racist bastards, sodomites, faggots, gun toting rednecks” and verbiage that makes me seethe with anger.

The vehemence and name calling and attacks and fury and outrage is just exhausting.  I have trouble enough getting my Keurig power button not to stick, this shit is too much for me. I hate the fact that I lay in bed last night unable to sleep due to swirling thoughts of the widespread, ongoing and irrational reactions to these issues.  So I step away. And the truth is, I can’t change them, and arguing with them sure isn’t going to get me anywhere.  So respect.  Or at least blissful ignorance. Can’t we all just get along?

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”  –John Lennon

Waiting Room of Hell

Had a doctor appointment yesterday for Riley.  3:15, we arrived at 3:10.  I’ve been to this doctor’s office before, normally she is quite prompt and waiting time is minimal.  This day, not so much.  Got into the room at 3:30, by 3:45, still no doctor.  On a regular day, I don’t have back to back activities, but yesterday we had to be back at the high school by 4:00, no wriggle room.  So at 3:45, we walked back to the front desk and I told the receptionist I would have to reschedule because we couldn’t wait any longer.  I was pretty upset about the ridiculous waste of time.  I left work early so we could make it to this appointment on time, but apparently only THEIR time is important, not mine and my son’s time.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.  16 years and 3 kids, I’ve waited in doctor’s offices for the better part of 7 total months as best as I can calculate. Doctors do it on purpose, over schedule appointments to maximize income.  It’s probably an exaggeration, but not much. (One could continue to argue it’s the insurance companies’ fault and then healthcare as a whole because my doctor doesn’t get reimbursed for the cost of the care they provide, and on and on and on…but that’s a rant I’m not willing to tackle).  Back to MY complaining…they do this on MY DIME and MY TIME.  And we are prisoners of their system. Trapped because we don’t have any other choice except an urgent care with NO appointment, and that’s the 7th level of hell, 3 steps beyond a regular doctor’s waiting room 4th level of hell. I’ve berated Brendan before for walking out of waiting rooms before because it just means you have to reschedule and then wait AGAIN.  But now, having felt the freedom and downright joy at telling them Buh-Bye, I get why he’s done it.

Before I was working full time and the boys were little, I didn’t mind waiting AS much. We’ve been going to the same pediatrician since Riley was 1. We’ve named all the fishes in the aquarium, mourned the ones that have passed on, seen office renovations, nurses and doctors come and go, and there are 32 steps to get from the 1st floor to the 2nd. That office is a well known place to our family.  I LOVE our doctor, her and I were pregnant at the same time and had our babies just days apart.  I was actually kind of irritated that she wouldn’t be in the office for Alex’s first newborn appointments.  The nerve of some people.  Aside from that, she’s kind, attentive and knowledgeable, everything you could want in a pediatrician. She knows more about my kids than most people. And most of it is pretty gross. But when I am in the waiting room with a sick kid watching the minutes click by… 15…30…45 minutes past my appointment time, I pretty much want to throat punch her by the time we see her.  And I REALLY like her.

Of course, she apologizes for making us wait and then usually tells us a story about how she had to send a 2 year old to the hospital earlier that day because the poor thing was so dehydrated from their awful case of leprosy and a collapsed lung, making my guilt go into overdrive because my son just has a fever, and here I am whining about waiting when my kids are sick or injured only once or twice a year that actually require a doctor’s visit.  I’ve often wondered if she’s being honest or if she just knows how to find my sympathy buttons.  Deathly ill babies?  Pretty easy button to find.

Recently though, the last several visits, our wait was very minimal, completely reasonable.  We get through the appointment and then something strange happens..she keeps talking.  Telling stories, engaging us in small talk, reminiscing about past appointments and maladies.  She peruses the boys’ medical records like it’s a scrapbook, “Oh Rose, remember the time he had those warts on his feet!  He was so ticklish!” Not that I don’t appreciate the extra attention, but then I start to think about those parents in the waiting room. They are full of angst and clock watching just like I’ve been so many times before.  I find myself trying to wrap up the appointment, edge closer to the door, ever so gracefully and non-verbally let the doctor know that while I appreciate her friendship, I’m ready to move on to the pharmacist with my prescription.  All in the name of stopping the waiting madness.  I want to yell “Stay on time! Stop making us wait! For the love of God, we make appointments for a reason!”

But alas, I don’t.  I pay my co-pay and quietly go home.  Then I sit by my computer and wait for the email survey I inevitably get about my appointment.  I will honestly answer their questions in the hopes that it actually means something.  That when I complain, changes will be made in their process.  That when I applaud their timeliness, it encourages their behavior.  A girl can dream.

I sincerely try and am typically successful at being on time for almost everything in life, big events and little ones.  I loathe tardiness. Kids late for school on a regular basis? I seriously want to throttle those parents and/or kids. (I MAY have an anger problem, jury is still out on that one).  But in what world is your inability to manage time now MY problem? Being on time is a extremely large respect issue.  I guess that’s what it comes down to:  it doesn’t feel like Doctor’s offices have any respect for my time. (Although props to my dentist’s office, they run a tight ship, they are often waiting for us if I happen to come in a minute or 2 late).  I understand medical care is not an exact science (ironically), but I am no fool, I’m betting there are some areas where improvements can be made.  I know I’m screaming into the wind here, but honestly, I’m just trying to delay calling to reschedule the appointment I ran out on yesterday.  Think they are mad at me?

Have I mentioned it’s time to get my driver’s license renewed?  Wish me luck!

doctor

Anger much?

I had big plans for my latest blog.  But those plans have been set aside, washed away, and forgotten for the time being.  Spring break in Michigan, it doesn’t get any better than that.  Oh wait, yes it does.  Granted, I don’t work this week, kids are off school, I get to sleep in, but the weather still blows. Everyone I know drove to Florida. Not that I want to drive to Florida, but still, the weather disparity makes me green with envy.  So I’m already starting off on the wrong foot here in unbalmy, sunless Michigan.

I wake up, have some coffee, talk to a friend on the phone, then hear the garbage truck…F**K!  Riley’s car is in the street on trash day.  Of course we got a ticket.  And then to pour salt in the wound, MY car in MY driveway got a ticket for blocking the sidewalk.  I had moved it back yesterday so my kids and their cousins could play basketball since I was hosting Easter dinner at my house. The horror.  So now I’m raging.  Cursing, crumpling up the tickets.  I call Brendan, curse at him.  I rant on Facebook.  I don’t feel any better. The doorbell rings when I am in the shower, the phone rings off the hook.  Do I NOT have 3 able bodied children who can answer the door or answer the phone?!  It would appear that I don’t. So now I’m screaming bloody murder at them.  Then my youngest comes in from his run after only 8 minutes complaining that his knee hurts.  I tell him I guess you have to quit soccer and track now.  Not an unreasonable response, I think.

I get in my car to drive to the post office.  I am behind someone going 23 MPH.  Who gave this guy a license?  Are you kidding me?  Get out of my way!! Then I park behind a guy who is obviously going to the Tiger’s opening day game.  He’s wearing shorts (in 43 degree weather–genius), he’s bathed in cologne which chokes me to death, and I hate him just for his existence.  I’M not going to the Tiger’s opening day game.  More jealousy.

Now my negative self-talk is really wound up– I’m fat, I have crows feet, I need new jeans, but no way I’m going to a store to try them on (see previous “I’m fat” statement), I’m cold, why do I have to dust my house, my life is a miserable piece of crap and everyone on Facebook is living the dream.  I start blocking people and unfriending everyone who posts a picture of a palm tree, because they don’t deserve my friendship.  I text a couple of my REAL friends, who are here suffering in Michigan with me, and demand lunch out.  Don’t tell me no, I may kill you. Some boneless wings and a yummy salad later, I’m vented out and feeling better. I even left a good tip.

I was really twisted up in anger this morning over 2 parking tickets. It clouded my everything, I was in full lash out mode, at my kids, strangers, people in cars near me, everyone I know who is on vacation in a warm place, and my cats. Just because I could be, damn cats being all cat like.  And rationally I know I was only mad at my local police department for 2 stupid tickets that were completely valid, I just don’t happen to agree with their methodology. I wasn’t mad at my kids, or random people, or anyone who is on vacation or the Tigers game.  I go on vacation, just not this week. I go to Tigers games, just not today. My kids weren’t doing anything wrong, just being normal annoying kids. The guy with the cologne at the post office, he really is a jerk, scale back on the Drakkar, save the ozone, okay?  He deserved my evil stare.

I am Greek Orthodox, so this week is my Holy Week and Easter is this coming Sunday. This week more than any other, I really should be better. More insightful, more forgiving, more thankful, less envious, less angry, less self-absorbed.  I don’t get all roid rage angry like that very often, it’s unbecoming of a lady such as myself. And I do feel much lighter now that I’ve let it go. Oh sure, I’ll get angry again when I have to write the checks to the city (AKA Nazi, Germany), but not like I did this morning. What purpose did my anger serve? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I obviously didn’t deal with the whole situation very well. Shame, guilt, disappointment ensue. What a vicious circle anger is.

So lesson learned? Instead of spreading my anger to those near me, I will count the blessings in my life and spread happiness. Too simple of a solution?  Not this time 🙂 I will stop wishing for rain in Florida, I hope the Tigers win for all my friends who are there rooting them on, I’ll hug my kids and apologize for yelling at them, and I’ll thank my friends for letting me air my anger at lunch. It truly is good to be me. I’d do well to remember that next time I make a presidential bid for the looney tunes farm.