A Kind of Grace

So here’s the spicier part in which Rhino’s math complications become more complicated (you can see part one below).

My relationships with my father is…complicated.  I hear that narcissistic personality disorder was taken out of the DSM V, which I suppose means there isn’t really anything wrong with him.  Sometimes I tell my therapist things my father has done and the therapist does a double take and stares at me.  One of the main things that complicates our relationship is that my retired father, who lives alone in another city, has put me in full charge of my mother (who has early onset Alzheimer’s and now resides in assisted living near my house).  On top of that, when my father comes to our city, he will only see my mother once or twice for 10 minutes because seeing her makes him sad.  He also did not get her a Christmas present.  I could go on about this for a long time, but I will spare you.  Suffice to say that Rhino is utterly outraged at my father, and so her relationship with him is complicated too.

In any case, my no-longer-personality-disordered father is very good at math.  

Rhino signed up for Precalculus in August.  She can’t really take the SAT until she finishes this class.  It is important to take the SAT and do reasonably well, because that is the way homeschoolers prove to colleges that they actually learned the same academics that traditional schoolers did.  So basically, Rhino can’t apply to college until she finishes taking Precalculus, which she also has to do in time to take an SAT prep course.  I completely agree that our college application regimen is ridiculous and out of control—prep classes and such are smart for one, dumb for all.  Which is to say that rather than being a leg up, they have become a requirement.  The whole thing sucks a lot.

Rhino opened the math book once in October, found the first lesson incomprehensible, and closed the book.  

We have a dear friend who is a former high school math teacher who said that she would be delighted to help Rhino for free, even though math tutors commonly make $50-$100 an hour.  Did Rhino take her up on this?

You knew that was a rhetorical question, right?

So I asked my no-longer-personality-disordered father if he might help Rhino with her math.  He said yes.  I asked if he could restrain himself from telling her how easy it was, and he said yes.  I asked if he could refrain from yelling “No, you silly nit!” (which was kind of his pet name for me growing up) when she made the same stupid mistake over and over, and he said yes.

Then I asked Rhino if she would be willing to work on math with him, and miraculously she said yes.  This was after I had pointed out to her that she had another person whom she actually likes who offered to help her for free, except she never took the offer.  But the yes was miraculous nonetheless.

Then the two of them sat at the dining room table and did the first math lesson.  Then Rhino did two more math lessons with my father before he left.  And he was really nice to her and very helpful, and Rhino felt really good about understanding the first three math lessons out of about 180 (not kidding on the number).  And we had a moment of grace.

But then my father left, and Rhino still has 177 more math lessons, and I still have my father who won’t visit my mother, and Rhino still has to take the SAT and apply to college.

Sometime grace is complicated.