Tuesday, January 11, 2011

21 Problems

Lately I find myself changing that "West End Girls" song to "Pre-teen girls"...I was never a Pet Shop Boys fan, but that song was overplayed on the radio and it's kind of catchy...and definitely seems sort of fitting for my pre-teen:

You think you're mad, too unstable
Kicking in chairs and knocking down tables

(I had to look up the lyrics, but those seemed fitting.)

My tone may be light, but my mood is not.

A is a pre-teen.
She's eleven.

I remember when she was born, so beautiful and sweet. I was so happy to have a baby girl. She was an easy toddler, a sweet little girl...and everyone laughed and said, "Just wait!" But I hoped we would defy all of those rumors of girls being easy when they are little and boys being easier as they get older.

But, sadly, I do not think our family has defied that truth.

A has ALWAYS been a Daddy's girl. Jason does NO WRONG in her eyes. We joke that he could say the sky was brown on a sunny day and she would agree. She usually points out that it can be brown before a storm. Whereas, if I say the sky is blue, she will say, "No it isn't."

It's just the way it is. And I love how she loves her Daddy and how he dotes on her.

She wants to be the little woman. On nights when I work, she had taken to cooking dinner. Sometimes she lays Jason's clothes out for him. Other times, she will help him with something when she thinks he needs a hand.

I love all of that. I think it's sweet. I am proud of her. I am proud that at eleven she can boil water for pasta or heat up soup or make toast. I am proud that she takes care of her Daddy.

She and I have our special thing. We both love to read. We share books. We talk about them. We like a lot of the same movies, lately I have been allowing her to watch some movies, like the Nicholas Sparks movies, that I think P is too young for. That is our thing, and she is happy to have me to herself.

When A was in school, homework was an issue for her. She would call me every name she could think of and say a lot of mean and hurtful things when I tried to get her to do her homework. I would get upset. Everyone that knew me thought I must've hit my head when I started talking about wanting to homeschool this child. But...I felt that it was because she was so keyed up from school, so wrapped up and emotional, so tense that she was ready to pop...and I bore the brunt of it.

And I was right.

For the most part.

Now, our only argument is Math. We do it first thing to get it over with. Once it's done...it's smooth sailing and we enjoy science, history, writing, reading, etc. But Math...

A had Everyday Mathematics in third and fourth grades and she loved it. She did well with it.

When we began homeschooling we used "Life of Fred" and A LOVED it. She did well with it. She would like to use "Life of Fred" exclusively. But I feel that LoF is a good supplement to a more comprehensive program. Her sister chose Teaching Textbooks and loves it. When we finished LoF fractions, I showed A Teaching Textbooks and Math U See and asked her which she would like (I had done the same with P, since I like both programs and could not decide myself). A wanted to try her sister's Teaching Textbooks. She tried it and loved it, so she took the placement test and we bought the level that was appropriate for her.

Now she hates Teaching Textbooks. She wants to do a program with workbooks. She doesn't like using the computer. I downloaded some free lessons from Math Mammoth in November and she hated them; she had all kinds of criticisms of the program from too easy to too difficult to she didn't understand anything I was saying, it was like I was speaking a foreign language. I found some youtube videos and she made fun of them. We went back to Teaching Textbooks. Yesterday, we tried Aleks. She hated it. I showed her Math U See, she doesn't like it. She wants me to buy Everyday Mathematics. I can buy that, but from all of the reviews I am not convinced that it's a good program. Quite honestly, there were many times when I was confused by her homework.

Currently, in Teaching Textbooks, she is supposed to multiply 3 digit numbers by 2 digit numbers. In Everyday Math, they taught several ways to do this: laser, boxes, traditional, place value, etc. I felt that sometimes having so many methods was confusing. But A excelled. Her complaint now is that Teaching Textbooks gives her 21 problems and she doesn't understand why she had to do them when Everyday math just gave her 4 or 5. I considered allowing her to only do the first 4 or 5, and if she got them correct, allowing her to move on. BUT...then I realized that Teaching Textbooks throws in other kinds of problems, spirals with addition and subtraction and division. I think that is good practice. I point out that 5 problems in class and 5 at home were ten problems, I am only asking her to do math once a day...but, as she points out, it's twice as many problems.

This elicits tears. She cries, saying she wants to be a little girl. She cries about everything from puberty to the Sydney, our dog who had congestive heart failure and several strokes and at the age of 15, we had to put her to sleep. A cries over her sister being done with math in a half hour, whereas with all of this crying, it takes A well over an hour and a half to do 21 problems. My nerves are shot. Her nerves are shot. I try to comfort her. I sit with her and write the problems out, force her to focus. Sometimes I give her a break. Nothing works, as long as there is a math problem in front of her, she tells me that she hates homeschooling and wants to go back to school.

We began math today at 9:15...it ended at 12:30. That's ridiculous. It wastes too much of our time.

Tomorrow I am giving her what I think is a reasonable amount of time to do her 21 bleeping problems and then we are moving on.  What she doesn't finish she will have to finish later.  Maybe with her father.  When I am at work.

Once math was done, A wrapped her arms around me and told me she loved me.  Then the tears came again, "I am so sorry I was mean to you, what can I do to make it up to you?"

Um, not act like that again tomorrow...it's 21  Twenty one TWENTY ONE problems.  Not 50, not 75...TWENTY ONE!!!!!!!

We are taking a break right now.  The girls are reading quietly.  I am calming down.  It shouldn't be this hard....TWENTY ONE problems...all of which she got CORRECT once she stopped crying between them!!!!