In kindergarten, I knew math would never be my thing.
Mid-year we took a math quiz, and the teacher pinned the quizzes of all those who got 100% on the bulletin board.
She handed my quiz back saying, “If you want to correct the problems you missed, I’ll pin yours on the board too.”
I sat at my desk during recess contemplating 2+2 and 3+3, while all my friends played at recess. I sighed and looked at Stephanie, a classmate staying in from recess to correct her quiz too.
“I really don’t care if my quiz gets on the board. I’m going out for recess,” I announced.
“Me too!” she stuffed her quiz in her desk and we headed out together.
That was also when I knew I had leadership skills.
Over the years, I fell in love with words. I read a steady stream of books, wrote stories, and fell in love with storytelling and performing on the stage. These were my loves. These things made me come alive. Math was a necessary evil.
My freshman year of college, I enrolled in the communications program. Not only did I get to take all the fun classes of public speaking and storytelling and oral interpretation, but the course only required one math class – college math. I breezed through a semester of fractions and simple math and have never looked back.
Until now. I find myself repeating my math-nightmares as I try to help my first and third graders.
Yesterday, I attempted to help first-grader T-Rex with his simple geometry.
“Buddy, I’m not sure that’s a rhombus.”
He looked at me as if I knew nothing (which is partially true when it comes to math). “Uh, yes it is mom.”
Little Miss (3rd grade) skipped over to the table to take a look at his homework. “Yup. That’s a rhombus. See, it has four opposite and equal sides with opposite and equal angles.”
Whose child is this? Then she pulled out her geometry vocabulary booklet she made in school to show me, which might as well be Greek.
I would never survive today’s math requirements in elementary school. I sat quietly as T-Rex finished his homework.
When he finished he looked up and then held his papers in front of his face so I couldn’t see the answers.
“Mom, how do you spell rhombus?” His grinning eyes peeked just over the papers to look at me.
Now we’re talking my language. I can’t tell you what a rhombus is, but I can spell it! “R-h-o-m-b-u-s.”
“Very good, Mom! Now how do you spell triangle?”
He quizzed my geometry spelling, and applauded my success with each word.
I think in this internet, social-media culture we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be good at everything and feel less-than when we can’t do something as well as someone else.
I will never be a skilled interior decorator, a fantastic chef, make creative lunches, be good at math, take gorgeous photos, or run 7 minute miles.
Something giving you trouble, making you feel badly? You don’t have to be good at everything.
It’s ok. You’re ok. You have many things you are skilled at. You have those gifts for a reason. Use them. Let those gifts bless the people around you. Don’t worry about all the things you’re not so great at.
Daddy can help with the math homework. I’m ok with that.