Last week, my son was required to write not one, but two poems.
“You could write about a tree,” I suggested. “Lots of great poets have written about trees.”
“How about your guinea pig? There are all sorts of guinea pig words that would work into a rhyme scheme — ‘pig’ rhymes with ‘big’... or ‘fig’ — he’s white, which rhymes with ‘night’ or ‘fight’ or ‘might.’ ”
In five minutes he had a poem. As he was reciting it to me, my daughter wandered past. She looked at me suspiciously. “Did you just write his poem for him?” she asked.
“Of course not!” I answered. “I simply served as his muse.”
For his second poem, he wrote a free-verse ode to the lamp next to his chair.
For a previous writing assignment, he had to pen a descriptive essay using the five senses. I suggested he write about Thanksgiving dinner. “For hearing, you could write about the conversation. Do you remember what we talked about at the dinner table?”
“Well, how about sight? Remember the centerpiece your grandmother worked so hard on?”
“Taste should be easy — what did you have to eat?”
He wound up writing about the time he and I went on an amusement park ride at Harry Potter World. I could offer little help, because the ride made me sick as a dog and I spent the entire time with my eyes closed.
My daughter recently asked for help when she was stuck on a geometry problem. “Yes! I will help with your geometry!” I exclaimed, sounding a bit like Dug the dog from the movie “Up.” I loved geometry in high school. I wasn’t particularly fond of the other branches of math, but I loved writing geometric proofs.
Construct a line parallel to a given line through a given point. Using your knowledge of triangle congruence criteria, prove why your construction method is valid.
I don’t remember anything about writing geometric proofs.
This was even worse than the time I tried to help my son with algebra, only to realize I no longer had any clue what a coefficient was.
Recently, I helped my son study for a map test on European countries. To help him remember Hungary, I pointed out that it’s shaped a little like a stomach. “Hungary … stomach … get it?”
To help him remember that Poland is next to Germany, I launched into an except from “Springtime for Hitler,” in which the Fuhrer sings, “We’re gonna invade Poland, baby, then we’re gonna take over France … kick them guys in the pants!”
He hasn’t gotten that test grade back yet, but how could he not have done well?