It was the last day of term, but Maths homework still had to be handed in. Maths homework never goes smoothly in our house. It usually features wild tears, scrumpled paper, crossings out, claims of being stupid and finally something apologetic being written by me in the space for parental comments.
Last night we were doing the last part of a sheet of questions about time, and actually, it looked simple enough.
‘The film starts at 8.15 and lasts an hour and a half. What time does the film finish?’
“Ok, so what time would it be 1 hour after 8.15?” I begin.
Long, blank pause.
“So, the hour part of the time 8.15 is 8, so you’re adding 1 more to 8.”
“I’m going to take a guess. This is just an estimate. Is it 5?”
“NO!” I take a breath. “What is 8 + 1? You can use your fingers if you like.”
“Who were the National Socialist Party?”
“How could they be bad, if they were socialists?”
“You can’t assume all socialists are good, and you can’t always trust a name, parties can pretend to be something they’re not to win votes. You’ve got to look at the detail of who belongs to a party, what their policies are, read what it says in their manifesto.”
“Is that what you do before you vote Labour?”
“Yes, absolutely.” Sometimes I lie to my son. I mean, it’s not as if I would just mindlessly vote for the exact same party my mother told me I had to vote for when I was about 2.
I feel it might be time to get back to the Maths. “So, If you were counting and you got to 8, what would you say next?”
“Why does evil exist?”
I feel like I’m being played, but I can’t be certain. Can he really be this innumerate? It’s a wonder to me that he knows the name of the Serbian who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife, but can’t add 2+1 without using his fingers. But if he’s pretending, he does so very consistently and convincingly.
One thing is clear, the homework won’t get finished. And who cares? He’s 7 and school’s done until next year. Bring on Christmas, I’m soooo not ready.