I've got a math problem. My child likes math and I don't.
"This is fun," Katie announced from the kitchen table.
My daughter is doing her math homework and she thinks it's fun. Yes, that's right. Fun. I don't recall ever thinking math is fun, but I don't say this to my six-year-old. I smile at her. I keep doing the dishes, which is also not fun.
Most everyone knows I'm math-phobic, but I'm in the closet around my daughter. I want to give her a few years to develop her own attitude about the subject before she gets swayed by my tendency to hate it. I regret dropping out of college because College Algebra was too hard. If Katie ever drops out of college, I want it to be because she has better things to do, not because she wasn't up for the challenge like her slacker mother.
I wasn't always a slacker. I'm just the kind of person who needs lots of validation and I didn't get enough from my accountant father who is better with numbers than with people.
I was once an enthusiastic student. Highly sensitive, some would even say a cry baby, I was generally an eager achiever in elementary school. Things changed in junior high. When I was in seventh grade I proudly handed over my report card. It was a new school. New friends, well, no friends yet. I still stayed pretty quiet and kept to myself. I missed my old friends back home. But I had all As and Bs and I was proud of myself for doing so well in my new school. Then Dad laughed in my face and said, "Wow, all I ever got was Cs and Ds, except in math. I always got As in math."
My math score plummeted after that semester. I can't be like Dad. What an asshole. Math is for assholes.
I was merely thirteen when I formulated that oversimplification and translated it into a lifelong phobia of math. Add twenty-nine years and I no longer equate math with the difficult man who is my father. It can't be all bad if my sweet kiddo likes it. Good correlative fun!