In fact, what made Algebra so eternally frustrating for me as a teenager was that it was hard to imagine the insane reasons such situations even existed.
Here’s an equation for ya: Algebra(Life) = Pointless x 2.
Yet, useless it seemed then, Algebra wielded a great deal of power over my life. Aside from the countless hours it devoured that I can never recover, Algebra significantly narrowed my career path prospects. I ruthlessly eliminated consideration of any vocation that might require me to determine the value of an unknown variable.
And I’m thrilled to report that over the past 25 years, I have been wildly successful in avoiding all things equation-related.
Until now. When my daughter starting bringing home homework with familiar, yet terrifying, terms like "quadrilateral" and "algebraic fraction" and "simple equation" (an oxymoron if I ever heard one). Like the villain that just won’t die at the end of the horror movie, Algebra has come back to terrorize me.
And I believe my math misery has multiplied exponentially as Molly and I sit, night after night, trying to make sense of it all. After a few problems I am frustrated squared.
Last week, she sat at the counter graphing algebraic equations.
Molly: It’s supposed to be a dinosaur when I’m done.
Molly: Seriously. Please tell me, when in life, Mom, will I be required to graph a dinosaur?
Girl after my own heart.
But I’ve been explaining to Molly that sometimes in life you just have to “Do the Math.” You may not understand it or like it, but you have to do it in order to reach your ultimate goal. And there just might be something important to be gained in the process.
My natural inclination as a parent is to rescue my kids from pain and frustration. To make things easy, happy and pleasant for them. Because I love them.
But, if I’m honest, it’s not all about them. I sometimes want to save them from failure and give in to their demands for freedom or escape from hard work for other, more self-serving reasons. It protects my image and/or helps me avoid conflict and disappointing them (both of which I hate) which makes me feel better – for the moment. But it only postpones the pain and battles – for them and me – to another day.
Ouch. I don’t like to admit that about myself.
As parents, we can’t focus on our own comfort level – or our children’s. As a neighbor, who is raising three teens of his own, recently reminded me, our efforts should center on “the end result … We’re working toward the end result."
I’m grateful I have a Teacher who knows all the variables and equations of life and parenting far better than I do. And Who has the power to weave everything – even Algebra – together for their good.
I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
Psalm 119:67 (NLT)