I step out into the kitchen– my skills in the gentle art of persuasion begin flag – I need a deep breath before starting the other three double digit multiplication sums. I estimate that if it’s taken us one hour to complete six questions, it will probably take another five and a half life times, squared, to finish the last three.
My daughter peeks out at me from a curtain of hair, earbuds firmly in place, so she yells in a friendly manner, “Wouldya like me to finish him off for you?”
“I mean…shall I help him with the last ones?”
“Would you dear?”
I can’t disguise the leaking pleading in my voice to my twelve-year-old.
“Sure. You make supper I’m starving. And I am so sick of salad.”
What a deal.
What a break.
My savior, and dinner’s salvation.
Time to cook.
I beat about the kitchen but I can’t help but earwig as she takes charge, loudly, as her approach differs markedly from my own – it’s amazingly effective as she tells him how it is.
“Stop shoutin 4 x 7 over and over again! You know it already. You know them all already. Y’just need to shut up and listen to your brain.”
They sit on the sofa together; she – relaxed with soft open limbs – he – knotted like a pretzel, eyes squeezed shut, teeth bared, laboring to lay an egg, willing the answers to come. It’s agonizing, and that’s just the watching.
I stop watching and annihilate the potatoes.
I listen as her voice takes on a maniacal tone, “Just imagine that each answer is a tiny little chick and if you get the answer wrong…… the chick DIES!”
I drop the potato masher and dash into the family room, aghast, as my son tumbles off the sofa to writhe on the carpet. I open my mouth to speak and notice that he’s chortling, tears of silent laughter. I look to my daughter – “It’s o.k. Mom – it’s his favorite quote from the Simpsons.”