Every age and stage has a purpose

?There is no other time in a woman?s life when she needs to be quite as smart as when she is looking after young children.?

?Katherine Ellison, author/journalist

Raising kids is anything but boring. It?s so rewarding when my oldest daughter looks up at me from her math book and says, ?I don?t understand this. Can you help me?? I smile knowingly, give her head a little pat and lean over to scan the open page.

Why not? I?ll give her a leg-up, walk her through the first couple of?whoa, wait a minute. Number theories? Prime and composites? What the?? She?s in fifth grade, right?

Now it?s all coming together. I get it. Fifth grade is a math test. Just like the other tests I?ve been given. Infancy was a parental sleep-deprivation test, toddler-ism was a patience test, kindergarten was a separation anxiety test. And now, elementary math revisited.

If I pass, I get to move on to (cough) algebra. All these years after basic skills tests have been tucked deeply into my past, I have to drag them all out, dust and all.

People I know who consider themselves ?math types? seem to enjoy the fact that there?s always one right answer. Which is exactly the reason why I don?t like it. There?s no room for interpretation. Where?s the fun in that?

I?m freely admitting my ignorance. If I were to transfer my mathematical skills onto some sort of chart, there would be two problems. One, I don?t know if I could set up a legitimate mathematical chart. And two, If I could, I would get bored before I finished, so it would be incomplete. Forget the chart.

Let?s just say I don?t think in those terms. It?s too early to tell if my daughter will share my opinion. She doesn?t jump all over her math with vigor and enthusiasm, but she seems to grasp it (so far). I hope it comes easier to her.

On the other end of things, they thankfully still balance it all out with some art and music. (But not recess, which is a whole other topic.)

Michael Jackson was recently their composer of the month. I know the controversy around him stands and we?re all tired of hearing about it, but it was fun to get on Youtube with my daughter and watch the Smooth Criminal lean again.

If the rest of the class was as fascinated with his musical career as my daughter was, then it was one productive month in that classroom.

Last school year, she would constantly relay info about the artists they studied in art class. One of her favorites was Georgia O?Keeffe. Just this past weekend, I ran across a Lifetime movie about her life. Because my daughter introduced me to her art, I recognized the name and decided to watch. It was good.

Who knew I would discover something new during my second trip through fifth grade, nearly 30 years later.

Once again, these kids we?re raising remind us there?s a lot left to learn.

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