Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just say no

You know those ads where kids ask their parents if they ever took drugs? Parents stutter and hem and haw because the answer is obviously yes but they’re trying desperately to come up with something they can say that won’t make them look two-faced at best and duplicitous at worst.

Well, Michael and Amy have been asking me a similar question lately and I’m having just as difficult a time answering as those tap-dancing parents in the “don’t do drugs” commercials:

“Mom, did you do algebra?”

Um… okay, I admit it. I did algebra twice. I vaguely remember being in a classroom hearing about X’s and Y’s and solving for something, but I cannot remember much more than that.

Where I grew up algebra wasn’t an option; someone signed you up and said you had to do it, or else. I didn’t want to know what “or else” meant so I went.

Somehow I skated by both times with a B. I remember feeling that I barely escaped with my life. And since then I’ve just said no to algebra, even when my college counselor said it might be a good idea for me to take it up again. No! I knew I’d had enough and feared doing it just once more might put me over the edge.

And yet, here I am, many years later, face to face with my demons. Michael’s taking it and he’s asking me to do it with him. After all these years on the wagon he wants me to jump off and solve for X and figure out square roots and find out how big a deck needs to be if the pool is 61 feet long and 40 feet wide when the owner wants the deck to be equidistant all the way around… (Hey deck owner – how boring. Add some curves, be creative! Don’t be square.)

No! No, I say! I won’t go back!

Unfortunately, Sean still gets a high from solving advanced second degree equations. I’ve tried to get him to stop, but he can’t. The endorphin rush of solving for X and Y is just too much for him. He can’t say no. Of course, that part of him was partially what drew me to him, but now, well, now I just don’t want any part of it.

Tonight he’ll have to factor without me. But he’ll take Michael along with him, and in a few years I know he’s going to drag Amy and Rebecca into his web of equations and formulas and such.

I can’t bear to watch it.

I think we need an intervention - who's with me?