I know how it is. There’s childhood, adolescence, college and finally, thank the gods, adulthood. It’s a bit angsty at first, but then you get the hang of it. You go along , enjoying being an adult, having all kind of adult fun (particularly that one particular adult activity that adults, you know, enjoy) and one day you wake up and say: “Hey! This life is awesome, but you know what would make it better? A rug rat or two!” And then you go ahead and propagate. Or possibly you don’t put quite that much thought into it and it kind of happens (our political message for the day: wouldn’t it be a better world if the human default was set on NOT getting pregnant rather than the reverse? Imagine. Discuss.) or maybe you put tons more thought into it and work very hard for a miracle child.
Mistake. It was a tragic mistake, sorry. There is one thing you haven’t thought about, and that’s true even if you are one of the people who worked for years to have a child. Sure, now you have a baby, and it’s really cute and stuff, and it drools and crawls and you can dress it in utterly adorable little suits or checked dresses with smocking and ducks and, holy shit, there are baby docs! And there is nothing more adorable in this world than baby docs. But it doesn’t matter, because the only trouble you have in those years is sleep deprivation and actually that’s a bonus, because honestly, if you weren’t that sleep depped, would you seriously ever think that the $150 yellow plastic thing that speaks in 100 equally intolerable electronic versions when you smack it is cute, or, gods forbid, necessary for your child to grow up literate?
What hasn’t entered into your fuzzy equation of love and ducks and bunnies and babies is the single, simple horrible and eternal truth: homework. Specifically, algebra homework. Say you have three kids. All three kids are going to have to take algebra and that means that you, yes, you, the person who thought that algebra was gone forever from her life, is going to have to take algebra not just once more, not just twice, but THREE more times. Ha, you say. This is the 21st century! Surely they cannot have algebra anymore. Oh no. They still have it, and it’s gotten worse. It’s gotten harder, meaner, leaner, toned for the new century and far more evil. And you will have to do it every. Single. Night. For. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life. Or until your kids graduate, which, given the evil of algebra, may be more or less the same equation. X=misery; Y=puzzlement; Z=the test is tomorrow Mom!
And this is not even to mention Harriet Tubman and Helen Keller, for although you may have fondly thought that they were phantoms of your past, you were wrong. Every American schoolchild must write at least one paper or make one diorama (you pick which is more traumatic; they’re both pretty goddamn bad) on Harriet Tubman and Helen Keller. It’s unfortunate that they can’t do them simultaneously and get it over with but alas, these are separate assignments. As is the algebra. Every night, the algebra. And then, there’s geography. Tigris and Euphrates rivers, holy shit, do you know where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are? And if so could you call me? Because we have a map due tomorrow.