No, I’m Not Smarter than a 5th Grader

The day I’ve dreaded has arrived.

My 10-year-old daughter brought math questions home from school that I struggled to answer. I drew a complete blank on how to calculate the perimeter of a rectangle.

Yep, I can now conclusively answer the question, “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”

No. No, I am not.

My fear mounted as I read through her homework questions. I absolutely aced geometry in high school, and now I can’t remember how to calculate perimeter? What is wrong with me?

It’s not just math that is stumping me these days. Here’s a sampling of questions thrown at me by my girls in recent weeks: How does currency work? How do planes stay in the air? What causes a tornado? How does electricity work?

None of the answers are rolling quickly off my tongue, which leads to this question: What is happening to my mind? Has parenting drained my brain? Is it old age? Was it true what my high school guidance counsellor said about beer destroying my brain cells?

I quickly googled video clips from Jay Leno’s hilarious “Jaywalking” segment he used to do on The Tonight Show.

“What are a group of people from Denmark called?” Leno asks a baffled high school student. “What countries are separated by the English Channel? Where is the Panama Canal?”

Ok, phew! I know those. Maybe I’m not a complete idiot.

“If we didn’t eat these eggs, would they eventually hatch into chicks?” asked my oldest as we put a carton of eggs into our cart at the store.

Finally! I question that didn’t give me too much pause.

“Nope. These eggs haven’t been fertilized. Remember when we talked about how babies are made? That a sperm has to fertilize an egg to make a baby? Well, it’s the same with chickens,” I said. “A rooster and a hen would have to have sex to make a little chick.”

“Chickens have sex?” she asks.

“Yep. So do dogs and cats and cows and horses. That’s where baby animals from,” I said, launching into a detailed story about the time our cat went into heat and I stumbled upon her in mid-tryst with the local tomcat.

My daughter looked astonished and utterly horrified at the same time.

“Do you want me to stop talking about my cat in heat?”

“Thank you,” she said, looking noticeably relieved as I focused again on our shopping list.

Eventually, after some prompting from the Hubster, I remembered what I needed to know about calculating perimeter. Fortunately for my daughter, the Hubster does not suffer from any math brain drain yet (and he drank WAY more beer than I ever did). I will have to give myself a refresher course in the math department if I am going to be of any help to my daughter during her nightly homework sessions from now on.

What am I going to do when she starts bringing home algebra and trigonometry?

The answer is simple: Leave the math questions to the Hubster and the sex questions to me.

The Hubster will be enormously relieved.


Li’l Girl Talk

“2011 was my best year for Roll Up the Rim to win,” says The Youngest, age 7.

Kathy Kaufield is a writer and communications consultant. It’s impossible to believe now, but she earned a 99 per cent on her Grade 12 geometry exam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s