Friday, September 10, 2010

A Word to the Wise

College has started again, which means three of the people in my home aren’t around to help with dishes. Ugh. Why do dishes never end? Oh, right, it’s because I have four teenagers and three of them are boys. Duh.

But that’s not what this post is about. Nope. It’s about this tradition my husband has of asking our progeny what they learned in school today. (Note to readers: this is a bad habit to start if your children have different interests than you do.)

Calvin (husband) to Luke (19 year old son): "What did you learn in school today?"

Luke answers: "Blah, blah, organophosphates, blah, blah, inverted equations, blah, blah, valence electron instability."

Luke is a chemistry major. Everything sounds like gobbledy-goop until he gets to “instability.” I’ve learned to play attention at this point. Instability in chemistry tends to equate to explosions. I like explosions. Luke is a great companion to watch Burn Notice with. He gets very excited at the various bombs and says things like. “That would so work, but how are they going to control the reaction?! It’ll blow the house up.”

Cal to Jacob (16 year old son): "What did you learn?"

Jacob: "Uh, we learned about derivatives (some calculus thingy)." At which point, Luke and Ariel discuss the finer points of derivatives. Jacob could get frustrated, but it gives him more time to eat before his brothers finish off all the food.

Cal to Ariel (18 year old daughter): "What did you learn in school today?"

Ariel: "Well, I completed a proof showing that the square root of five is irrational using whatever, whatever, whatever and whatever." (“Proofs” is an upper division class for math majors. I have no idea what’s she’s talking about.)

Me (who should have learned my lesson last year): "What are you talking about?"

Ariel: "I can show you."

She brings me pages of notebook paper filled with scrawled letters that don’t spell anything. I nod politely and suspect that higher level math isn’t real.

Finally we get around to Matthew, our 14 year old son. Cal says, “What did you learn in school today?”

Matthew: "Nothing."

I’d be relieved, except I’m his teacher.


  1. Does Luke watch Breaking Bad? It's about a chemist, and it's my favorite show on TV. / tv evangelism

  2. Hahah sounds like my husband and I....
    me to him: Well, we chatted about a guy who's been dead since 400 CE and whether he was a reliable source for the reign of Julian
    him to me: Was he?
    me to him: After an hour and a half, jury's still out.
    him to me: Well, I looked into variability of low-density star clusters.
    me to him: Hehe, the word cluster is funny.

  3. Hahahahaha!


    I wish we could be that brilliant, but usually we sit around discussing comic books and Omnibus readings. Math...not so much.

    Higher math is all a conspiracy to keep brilliant students busy and not to let them ever graduate!

  4. LOL!! The only conversations I could follow w/ my guys in school were the ones on Eng. Lit. I usually ended up asking the questions, though...
    Higher math is insane and infinitely intriguing. Since algebra constitutes higher math to me, anything beyond is like Greek and rocket science combined w/ some astrology thrown in. Seriously.

  5. You know... most days back in my school years, I'd have to have sided with Matthew. I'm sure that his learning of "nothing" has nothing to do with your teaching ability.

  6. Less talking. More eating. That's how it goes in our household.

  7. The problem is, Andrew, that way you won't understand electron density clouds and hybrid orbitals and what the difference is between alkanes and alkenes. (Yes, there is a difference)

  8. Hello. I'm from Poland. I've got four daugter's that my life it's very happy. They're 12,10,8 and 2. Your post was very interesting and funny. Sorry about my English. I'll read your blog. I'll try :)

  9. Arek-

    Welcome to the blog. I have a lot of readers from countries other than the US, but they don't often comment. I'm do glad you did!