with many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse…

Well, I am dragging myself out of the depression I have been in today due to the state of American feminism to report that, contrary to what you may have thought, I did not actually abandon Resolution Tuesday yesterday. The way I figure it, yesterday on TEOM?, I was taking a moment to revisit LAST year’s resolution.

And though I didn’t have the energy to blog about it, I did actually mother less yesterday, or, I would have, if the opportunity had not been ripped out from under me by my Youngest son.

My mother – who was a very good mother in many ways and whom I love dearly – did not have to try to mother less.  In fact, she is famous in certain circles (that would be the circle of my friends) for her response to a question I posed to her when I was, oh, somewhere in the vicinity of sixth grade:

"Mom," I asked with innocent enthusiasm, "I’m in the Pirates of Penzance!  Are you going to come see it?"

"Darling," she replied gently, as if to lighten the blow she knew was going to deliver, "I’ve already seen The Pirates of Penzance."

Take a moment to let that sink in, won’t you?

Oh, I do I hope you haven’t seen it already.

So now you know how I became the mother I have been, the kind who does more-mothering-than-is-necessary-or-even-good-for-and-in-fact-might-possibly-be-detrimental-to-her-children.

To take one small example of unnecessary mothering acts, for years I could be found on a series of dark February nights fighting the hordes while fulfilling my least favorite of all parental duties, attending the dreaded… Science Fair. Are there two words that more perfectly embody parental torture than Science and Fair?  I think not.

I suppose if one has a scientific prodigy for a child (I have never known such a parent) or if one has actually spent hours of one’s own time working on one’s tyke’s project (I have known many such parents) the Science Fair might be fun.  One could spend the entire night accepting kudos for one’s genius child’s work or for one’s own. 

None of my boys have, sadly, made the scientific genius cut.  And I (thank you Mom) have always drawn the line at actually doing my children’s work.  So, year after year, I have dragged my butt over to the gym at their school, and fought my way through the crowds, past poster board after poster board of projects so complicated that Middle School children could NEVER do them unaided ("Build an Electric Guitar!") or so simple that one struggles to understand how the child graduated from elementary school (In answer to the question, "What would it be like to enter a black hole?"  a child presents a video of himself in a fake space ship).


Sometime on Tuesday afternoon, Youngest called and informed me that the science fair was that very evening.  I’m not sure if it was knowing that it was Resolution Tuesday and thus a day for me to mother less, or that my snoozing feminism has been adequately shocked from its slumber by the ice cold misogyny of the Presidential Primaries, but as I drove to pick him up, I decided that I was, for the first time, not going to attend the Science Fair.   

Youngest had worked on his project, entitled "Which machine gets you to your target heart rate fastest?", for approximately 38 minutes (including the time we spent trying to figure out how the heart rate monitor worked). 

"If he is going to put so little effort into his project," I muttered to myself on the way to pick him up from school, "why should I go to the trouble of running my least favorite mothering gauntlet? I mean, for God’s sake, is my time worth nothing? Since he is required to go, I will drive him over, drop him off and let Mate go get him." 

I went on like this for the entire drive. Aren’t you glad you weren’t there?

By the time he threw his backpack in the car and got in the  passenger seat, I had worked up a nice head of steam. "I am not going to the science fair," I announced ominously and I was just about to launch into my whole diatribe about the complicated calculus of his lack of effort not equaling my time and the cost in global warming of multiple trips to the gym when he cut me off and interjected sunnily, "Oh, that’s OK, I don’t have to go anyway."



7 thoughts on “with many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse…

  1. Good God. That is so completely something my own mother might have said to me.
    I was a gymnast for four years, participating in meets 20-30 times a year. Guess how many times my mother attended a meet?
    That surely would not happen today, given the pressure to be a helicopter parent.

  2. I guess I was sort of a helicopter parent… maybe I am a “satellite parent” now, given the distance between me and the girls. The young man (my stepson) wants no part of any parent, I think sometimes.
    My parents really weren’t involved with my special projects. They were working class with four kids to feed and clothe. I really thought I was doing my kids a favor by being so involved.
    Oh, and the dreaded words for me? Band concert, swim meet, tennis tournament, orchestra concert, basketball game, cheerleading practice, softball game, volleyball game–and I worked fulltime! Is that why I am tired now? I have no energy left!

  3. Wow, that was a cold response…I’ve already seen Pirates of Penzance. I’m feeling like I just might be a super mom after all.
    Hope that science fair went off well, with or without you.

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