Things I need to say about Middle School thus far

I work with kids all day helping them with school work.  I think of new ways to explain material so that for kids who don’t get it to stick the first time, a new way is presented.  I am pretty good at it.  I can make any word rhyme with something a given kid will remember.  I can make angles and rays interesting.  I can tell kids that simple vs. other kinds of verbs (really, give me a break) are important concepts to master because, oh, I know, standardized tests will ask them about it, but real life never will and that doesn’t matter.  Can’t spell?  Me either.  Let’s think of funny ways to remember  patterns long enough to take and pass quizzes.  Mind wandering today, kiddo?  Mine too – it is the story of my life.  I get it.  Let’s walk down to the drinking fountain to get the wiggles out and maybe take a pit stop at the front door so we can answer our mind’s question, “Is it really as nice out there as it looks?”  (More like, “Why am I forced to sit here learning about the regions of the USA when I could be out there experiencing the regions of the playground?”)  Then, maybe the two of us can get down to business and learn our vocab for the week.  I am really good at doing this from 8 – 3.

However, when I have to turn around and do the same thing from 5 until 9, I pretty much wonder what the point of life is.

Spelling words that all end in “ance” was the spelling torture of the week.

Spelling word:  disturbance  Way to remember:  U R a disturbance  (He wanted to spell it with er.)

Spelling word: assistance   Way to remember:  ass is tance  (He came up with that chunking method himself.  I fully supported it.)

We wont know if these tricks worked until we get the test back Monday, but by then it won’t matter because we will be neck deep in a new torture list.  Trust me though, long term, this wont help at all.  When he is 35, we wont think back when trying to spell coincidence and think, “Oh yeah, that word wasn’t on the “ance” list I had week 2 of middle school.”  And when it comes to abstinence, I don’t care if he can spell it, I just hope he chooses it.

And after a good half hour spent learning tricks for the spelling list that will stick long enough to assist him in passing a Friday quiz, we move onto math.

Really, math?  Math has vocab quizzes now?  Subtrahend? I went through Calc 2 in college, and never once did that word come up or even matter.  I understand that was AGES ago, but I stand by my conclusion that it is a bunch of bull crap, so please spend time teaching my kids things that they actually need to know.


If you are subtracting one quantity from another, the starting amount is called the minuend; the amount subtracted from it is called the subtrahend. The result is called the difference. In practice, the terms “minuend” and “subtrahend” are rarely used outside of the classroom. So to simplify it:
minuend – subtrahend = difference.

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Not only do we need to learn the meanings of these words, we have to first learn how to read them.  Crap, it is as if we have ANOTHER spelling list.  Except worse.

But the sister is working through pretty tough algebra problems and needs me to check through them before she calls it good.  “Sorry, I can’t – I am still trying to figure out how to lend my assistance to your brother who is learning a whole bunch of crap he doesn’t need to know.  Hope you got them right, sweetie, good luck, from now on, you are on your own while I spend the next 7 years trying to keep your brother’s head above water.”

We also get to read every night.  For 5 of the 6 Piepers, this is a relaxing way to end the day.  For one, I had to buy Salted Nut Rolls to reward him.  Call it whatever you want, but so far, both nights, it has worked.  He has read without tears for 25 minutes TWICE in a row.  Bribery is a beautiful parenting tool.  I don’t care if it leads to him not reading without a dangling carrot, one day, he wont have to “read for pleasure” anymore and he can just get his pleasure just from eating the Salted Nut Roll (and maybe some bacon.)  Let’s stop pretending that all kids will read for pleasure.  This kids will peel 18 cups of apples for his mom while his two sisters sit glued in a chair with a book.  I pick the apple helper, I am busy being taught science.

Being taught science?  Yep.  My kids get points to come home and tell me about what they are learning in science and I suppose they think they might tell me something I don’t know.  Joke’s on you, little one.  Science + Me = kick your butt.  But I will play the game so you can get your points.

And then, when the core stuff is done and I can “relax” for the night, band practice time starts.  I get to listen to one trumpet, 2 percussionists, and 1 clarinet for 20 minutes each per night.  TAKE THAT DEAD MOOSE OUTSIDE!!!  One would think Crazy Man would be excelling in band since he can drum like Animal from the Muppets.  However, today, Princess told me her band instructor told her that he can tell she practices more than Crazy Man.  WELL DUH,   CRAZY MAN IS WORKING HARD ON NOT FLUNKING MATH OR L/A!!!  Crazy Man can out percussion her 10 to 1.  Any day.  Middle school, where does my kid who is working his butt off and no longer has a life get any sort of self confidence from your process?

Middle school, you are killing me.  Never mind the kid’s academics, he is going to be without a mom sooner or later because I can’t help his performancefrom a rubber padded room.  How will he pull off the second quarter as an orphan?  Think about how you are going to support that!!!

The plus side?  He and I are going to be besties, as in Siamese twins, so that ought to keep him out of trouble for the next 7 years.

Love and Peace to the Middle School Staff  (as you plan next week’s parental torture),

Mom on the verge of a total middle school meltdown – Thank God it is Friday and for two days, I am free.

PS.  When you offer drama to a school of 1400, please make sure there are more than 18 speaking parts, so my daughter, who gave up ballet so she could be in drama this year, makes it into the play cast, even if she is just a cow, person on sidewalk, dead girl found in basement, or other background character.   Or at least call it “Drama for kids who are in 8th grade, 6th graders don’t bother.”  She can really sing and act.  Trust me, drama is one thing Princess has nailed.  You missed out on a really good one, although admittedly she thought she was trying out for something based on Tinkerbelle when she heard the play title, “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.     (That is Pixie Hollow, sweetie!)  She is flexible, she could have adapted.


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