I have permission to share this story about my daughter:
My daughter’s crying at the kitchen table because she doesn’t understand her algebra homework. Her math genius dad is traveling, so I’m all alone with this terrible algebra problem.
I’m horrible at math. I’m missing math brain cells. Plus, I can’t remember how to do the problem.
I feel myself freaking out (just like I did at her age, just like she’s doing right now).
“We can do this,” I calmly tell her.
“But I don’t understand! I don’t understand!”
“We have to learn it. We have to teach our brain this new thing that it doesn’t know. We don’t need to feel bad, ashamed, worried, or sad. We just need to start fresh.” I realize we’re both in reactive–not responsive–brain states, so we need to calm down and come back later. We need a snack. We need a game. We need rest. We need to get rid of all the negative emotions that thwart learning.
We also need prayer. I actually cry out to Jesus to help us understand. I’m desperate.
Meanwhile, I call a Ph.D. student (a great teacher) and ask her to teach me the math.(Thank you, Devon.)
It’s embarrassing. But then I think to myself that it’s not embarrassing. Who cares? If I never admit when I don’t know something, how can I learn? I’m finished with pretending. I’m finished with living out of shame for no reason at all.
By the time I’m off the phone, I secretly work through the math problems to teach myself. Yes, it’s 5th grade math. Laugh if you want to.
Then, I find my daughter buried under her covers in despair.
“We can do this,” I say.
We start again, and I realize I know how to teach her because I’m a student myself. I help her set up the first problem , and all of a sudden, she grabs the pencil, smiles, and says, “I totally get this now.”
And she’s off finishing all her math.
Sometimes it’s hard to learn because we’re ashamed of what we do not know. That’s ridiculous. Living with flair means we love to learn and have no problem admitting what we don’t know.
I love algebra after all!