I used to be the smartest woman in the world. I know this may be kind of presumptuous to say (not to mention arrogant), but its true. Until recently, my kids thought that I was absolutely brilliant. I could add double digit numbers in my head (oooh), I could name all the oceans and continents (ahhh.), and I knew all the colors of the rainbow. Then, of course, my kids started school, and slowly my stronghold on brilliance started to ebb away. By the time my son hit fourth grade, I had become an absolute moron.
Now I know I had made it through primary school, high school and college, and I did well to boot, so I must have learned something. But sometime between my graduation from Penn State and now, all those little facts that I learned that I swore I would never use and actually never did, have either disappeared into the recesses of my mind, or were part of the brain cells that were destroyed when I gave birth to my children.
Much as I hate to give into the gender stereotype, I was never that interested in (or particularly good at) math and science. But now I have a husband and a son who excel at both, which would normally be a good thing because the dad could theoretically help the kid with his homework and wed all be happy. The problem is, the dad is never home at homework time, which leaves only me to answer the question: is a rhombus a parallelogram?
Is this a trick question? I asked him.
No, he said. Its a homework question.
Isnt a rhombus a kind of Spanish dance? I asked.
No. Thats a Rumba.
Oh. Whats a rhombus?
Its kind of like a square except its slanted, he responded in thinly veiled disgust.
Oh. Whats a parallelogram?
Two pairs of parallel sides, he said.
Hmmm, I thought out loud. You know, I happen to know for a fact that this is one of those things that youll never use in your adult life.
Thats fine mom, but I will have to use it in my childhood to pass fourth grade math.
I mean, when Dad bought me an engagement ring, he didnt ask me if I wanted a rhombus-shaped diamond
Or when we renovate the house, the architect is not going to ask me if I want a rhombus-shaped bedroom
OK. Lets see I know, I finally said triumphantly. Lets call Dad!
Hey honey, I have a question for you. Is a rhombus a parallelogram?
Yes, he said and hung up.
That was it. Just yes. He knew, he answered, he hung up. I, on the other hand, had worked up such a mental sweat that my eyebrows hurt.
Now I never claimed to be a genius at math, but still, its a little embarrassing to not even be functioning at a fourth grade level. So that night, while my son was sleeping, I rifled through his backpack, pulled out his math textbook, and read the chapter on geometric forms. (Yeah, some parents read their kids diaries and journals: I read their textbooks. You got a problem with that?)
The next afternoon at homework time, I slyly said to my son, So, how bout them trapezoids?
Huh? He looked at me blankly.
Do you want me to go over quadrangles with you, I asked him.
Cause were done with that. Now were starting fractions.
Without missing a beat, I walked into another room, picked up the phone and called my husband.
Honey, I think youd better come home early tonight.