A Thrill of Victory

We had a moment aglow with achievement yesterday, my son and I. Ever since the beginning of 9th grade there was a bit of a thundercloud hovering over the Algebra 1 coursework. “It’s too hard! I don’t get it and I never will. There’s no point in learning something I will never use, etc.etc.”

If you have ever tried to reason with a teen on the merits of discipline and HARD WORK when they see no immediate personal gain, you know how futile this feels. We looked at the chaos of his bombed quizzes and tests and my husband tutored him whenever he was home, but this was not reaching around to the everyday frustration. I would look at his assignments and dredge back into my school years, coming up with… nothing. I realized that I had never covered this coursework, having only done pre-algebra.

Well. Nothing for it then. We went back to the second unit and we did all those bombed out lessons again. I did every homework problem that Alex did, and we checked our work together. Guess what? I got an F on my first quiz. This was a new sensation for me and humiliated me a little. :/  I had to go back and review the first unit, memorizing formulas and forms and a ridiculous amount of basic rules for order of operations that I had forgotten.

There was a spot where it was all so muddled in my head; I would stay up studying until Gabe got off work, then whine to him about how hard this was for my brain crammed full of so many other things. He would unscramble my problems in a few concise sentences and I would go to bed with at least that day’s classwork done. “I don’t have time for this,” I would mutter. But I knew if I quit, my son would see the bad example of wimpy-ness that I was not allowing him to use as an excuse.

Slowly we scraped and scrabbled our way out of the pit of sucky-mud defeatism and climbed our way to consistent C’s and then we started getting B’s. It was shoulder to shoulder all the way, every day. And yesterday, oh yesterday! My son reached the pinnacle of a perfect score on his test! I made a dumb mistake and got 94%, but I was so happy for him that I could live with that!


I will savor the taste of the expression on his face when he saw that 100% for a long time. It will get hard again, but we can do this. It’s only Algebra, but it’s life too.

You can do this, Son.


6 thoughts on “A Thrill of Victory

  1. Yowza, is this what I have to look forward to? My 2 oldest struggle and grizzle about elementary math… Kudos to all the hard work from both of you!

  2. Admirable, and far more dedication than I have for a subject that involves numbers that look like letters. Grr. Now I’m wondering, should I feel guilty for loving Teaching Textbooks so much? 😒

  3. Argh. I also don’t understand algebra; my teachers always skipped that unit in school, saying we wouldn’t need it. I am depending on my high school algebra teacher husband to fill that department in our home education. I do however understand the philosophy of education as you have illustrated it here in real life and very much appreciate the attitude you are exemplifying for your children. My hat’s off to you…
    Two questions: Will we get lucky enough to get daily posts from you again in February? And also, any chance that you’re attending the CHAP conference in June in a city near to me?

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