posted by Matt W on December 7th, 2011

“Hey dad, I need your help. Name five different ways that courage was used in the first half of my book, and at least one of them has to be about Scout.” There was nothing in middle school I couldn’t handle, so my daughter’s experience with me has been that I know everything. High school is where it gets tough to be a helpful homework parent.

Okay, as Scout is the name of the girl in To Kill a Mockingbird and as it seems like I read TKAM in 9th grade and both of my boys read it around this age, it seems a pretty safe bet that the book in reference is indeed the Harper Lee classic (I’m personally impressed I remember her name). As it has literally been 32 years since I read this book, I am having a hard time even remembering the plot let alone how courage was used. “You do realize that it has been 30 years since I was in high school and had to read this book?” “Yeah Dad, but I can only figure out 3,” which incidentally is exactly three more than are currently popping into my mind. I was never very good in English classes and my wife actually taught high school English before she became a professor, so the answer is quite clear, “Ask your mother.”

There are certainly subjects in high school that I’m still pretty good at. I am very good at geometry and as my daughter is taking it this year, I actually can help her for the rest of the year in math. Next year and beyond I am totally screwed as I can’t remember a lick of calculus. Did I actually ever know how to solve a problem with the differentiation formulas?

“What do you think the purpose of the gametophyte is in moss?” Now this is in my wheelhouse. I am the parent that typically answers science questions in the family and I have actually taken biology classes since high school, but really the gametophyte in moss? I ask a few questions to see if anything rings a bell, but it only prolongs my agony. In the end, I was actually more help with my To Kill a Mockingbird suggestion.

In US History, I helped out my boys quite a bit because I read about history a lot. As my boys weren’t big homework guys and could care less about what they turned in as long as they didn’t get a lecture from their parents about it, they were also easier to bluff. “Yah, George Washington either lived in or crossed the Delaware, how about a burger” and we were off to 5 Guys with my reputation intact. My daughter actually turns in homework, so the secret will be out of the bag shortly. The hard part is she still thinks I remember everything when in actuality I can remember hardly anything, and things from 30 years ago, well that’s just crazy. It was good while it lasted.

File Under King of the Castle