Katya’s sniffling in the school room. Since I am the “meanest of all the mean mommies,” as she once told me, she has math to do over the summer. Honestly, everyone but my college girls has math to do over the summer.
Today Katya took a math test. Since my goal is for her to learn her math, I use the test to assess what she understands and then work with her to help her learn what she doesn’t understand.
Katya doesn’t mind doing schoolwork. She doesn’t even mind doing math. But, she does mind being wrong. And math is kind of tough like that. When you say 2 + 2 = 5, you’re wrong. There really just isn’t gray area.
So, she took her math test and then we sat down to go over it. Before we’d checked too many of the problems, we hit a wall. She got a few problems wrong and started on a nasally escalating chorus of …
“I hate math.”
“Math is so boring.”
“It’s your fault.”
This last one is my particular favorite…
As Katya sniffles her way through reviewing a lesson and doing some extra problems to cement the concepts, I’m reflecting on math meltdowns, mean mommies, and what this has to do with sanity.
Here’s what I don’t do:
I don’t get emotionally involved
It’s not my job to make Katya be a math-lover. Right now is not the time to wax eloquently on how much better off she’ll be because she understands the quadratic formula. I don’t whine, complain, or escalate. I don’t fret over what it means for her future if she never loves math. I don’t get emotionally involved.
I don’t bite the bait
When she’s making excuses, I don’t bite. After the dust settles, we can talk about the things she is saying – that she’s too “unsmart” for math, that she’ll never learn math, that she is probably the most “unsmart” of all of her brothers and sisters. I know these things aren’t true, and I’m pretty sure she knows they’re not true too. But, right now, I don’t bite the bait.
I don’t take the blame
I could very easily say, “Honey, I should have taught you better. I am so sorry you don’t understand this. I will do a better job of teaching you.” But I don’t. Frankly, that’s not the issue. While there may be some truth to it, it’s not the issue. The issue is that she got a math problem wrong. It’s just not a big deal. I don’t make it a bigger deal. And I don’t take the blame.
Can you see how these Math Meltdown Principles are transferrable to grocery store tantrums, hitting little sisters, and refusing to kiss grandparents? If you’re a mean mommy like me, you probably have your own story to tell. I’d love to hear it. And, if you’d like a little sanity in your life, join me on Thursday and we’ll walk through the grocery store tantrum scenario applying these Math Meltdown Principles.