Back to School: Lessons in Time, Invisibility and Algebra | Reflex.cz
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Back to School: Lessons in Time, Invisibility and Algebra

Steve Fisher31. srpna 2012 • 06:00
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Kids grow up so fast. The other day I said to my younger son, "Wow. I can't believe you're starting sixth grade this year! I remember when I started sixth grade. It was really fun, because we were learning much more interesting things than we learned in fifth grade."

 

He said, "Dad, I'm starting fifth grade this year."

 

"Right!" I said. "Of course you are. So, forget what I just said. I had it mixed up. Fifth grade is great. It's much better than sixth grade…no, I mean…never mind. Hey, let's go find your Mom!"

 

Apparently kids don't grow up as fast as I thought.

 

They say that time flies when you're having fun. So, I guess it would make sense that the opposite is true when you're having children. As a parent, the time does seem to slowly drag by – one mind-numbing, soul-deadening, hope-crushing day after the next.

 

It's not that I don't love my children. I do. Most of the time. And by "most of the time," I mean the 50.0001% of the time when I'm not imagining how delightfully easy and problem-free my life could be without them.

 

Seriously, though, having children is like getting a gift…from someone who either didn't know you very well, or was mentally unstable, or else wanted to get even with you for something terrible that you once did to them.  

 

Sure, sometimes my children are like angels, just unfortunately without the invisibility aspect of that analogy.  Not that human invisibility is impossible. I know, because, as incredible as it might sound, I myself have managed to achieve it.

 

It started a few years ago, when my older son came home from school one day and walked right past me into his room without saying a word. I was astonished.  It was as if he had not even seen me at all!

 

"Hello!" I said to him as he passed by me, but there was no response from him. It was just a short leap for me to the stunning conclusion that he could not hear me either!

 

I'll admit that, at first, I panicked. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a fork, and started jabbing myself in the arm with it just to be sure that I had not completely dematerialized. Of course, I should have realized that I had already proven that just by picking up the fork.

 

I also yelled at the cats, to confirm that I was still audible to other creatures, which sent both of them fleeing terrified into the bedroom to hide. I apologized to them later, even though in a way you could say that it was really my son's fault.

 

So, eventually I realized that it was only my children to whom I was invisible. But even that seemed kind of amazing.

 

Another startling surprise was the fact that my invisibility seemed to have something to do with the clothes I was wearing. I discovered this when I tried testing it out by walking around our apartment naked for several days in a row.

 

"Jeez, Dad, put some clothes on!" one of them finally said.

 

Weird, right? I'm no scientist, so I can't explain the physics behind this mysterious phenomenon, but it's pretty interesting to say the least.

 

And, stranger still, it's not always the case. Somehow they are able to see me, even fully clothed, whenever they need help with their homework.

 

Darn it! Of all the times for my invisibility clothes to fail me!

 

But, I know that I should be a responsible parent. So, when I found out that my older son is going to start studying algebra this year, I thought that I should brush up on the subject in order to be able to help him with it.  I even went out and bought a book called "Algebra Made Easy", and I began by looking at some of the test questions at the end of it. The first one was:

 

Prove that (x² + y²)² = (x² - y²)² + (2xy)² 

 

That was when I went back to the bookstore and bought yet another book. This one was called: "Coming to Terms With the Fact That You Are Not Going to Be Able to Help Your Child With Algebra." I've found it very reassuring.

 

Of course I worry about my children when it comes to getting good grades in school. And, naturally, my main worry is that they'll find out what kind of grades I had when I was in school.

 

But the only way they could possibly find that out is if the young friend of theirs whom I hired to hack into my school's computer and destroy my records tells them about that. And I made sure to pay him enough to guarantee his silence, because I really care about my kids' future.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, even if my kids can't see me, I'm there for them.

 

At least, I think I am. Let me check.  

 

Ow! Yep.

 

Darn. I keep forgetting that's it's enough just to pick up the fork.

 

It's been a long day.



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