“Welcome to Seventh Grade Algebra,” Mrs. Houston began. I had been looking forward to Parent Night at the junior high ever since putting Ellie on the bus earlier this fall.
Ellie had been kind enough to let me not only walk her to the bus stop the first day of school, but take her picture at the corner while waiting for the bus as well. Unfortunately the bus showed up a little earlier than scheduled, and I had to leap behind a bush – camera in hand – to avoid being spotted by a busload of seventh graders.
(Ducking behind the bush in the early morning hours wearing my jammies and holding a camera was not nearly as embarrassing as jumping back out after the bus had passed, startling and confusing my poor neighbor who happened to be jogging by that very spot at that very moment.)
Junior High got a lot easier after that first morning, with the exception of one class.
Seventh Grade Algebra.
“Your child has been recommended for this class because he or she excels at math,” she continued.
This statement might have had some element of truth, but just the night before, Ellie and I had both cried over her algebra homework. Neither of us knew what the textbook wanted out of us, and I ended up Googling the instructions for her calculator.
Until then, I had considered myself to be quite bright.
“You should be proud of your child for falling into this category,” she said. “These are the students who will likely go on to be engineers or physicists.”
Physicist? Ellie? I thought. She told me she wants to be a fashion designer...
“Many of these students are smarter than I am,” she explained.
“… work for NASA someday… “ umm, Mrs. Houston? We have a problem “… go on to promising careers as adults.”
Mrs. Houston seemed oblivious to my dropped jaw and furled brows. “This class puts them on track to be finished with college statistics before they ever even enroll in college.”
She isn’t going to need college statistics to design the skinny jeans of the future. She only needs to be able to convert inches to yards…
“… a lot like Doogie Howser… “
Maybe figure square footage…
“… keep them challenged… “
Like Tim Gunn or Heidi Klum?
“We will cover exponential expression, convergent sequence, and harmonic mean,” she said, as if they were Christmas presents I should look forward to opening. I quickly scanned the room and realized I was the only parent who had lost all coloring in her face.
“… compete in national mathematic… “
… but she’s a real blonde…
“… really, really, really smart… “
… and cute…
“… motivated… “
… and likes makeup…
“… genius level… “
WE HAD TO GOOGLE HOW TO WORK THE @#$% CALCULATOR!
Fortunately Mrs. Houston could not read my thoughts nearly as well as she seemed to be able to integrate and differentiate (I have no clue what that means).
And, as it stands right now, my real genius is pulling a B in the class by sheer willpower and has had exactly one boy ask her over to watch “Star Wars” and play with Legos, confirming that my daughter is in way over her head.