Thursday, April 03, 2008

Chernobyl, reduced to a mere Three Mile Island

I had a meltdown last month. It happened after I received the results from the third math test of Math 95.

Before I tell you that grade, let me tell you that the first test grade was a 96%, the second an 89%. I felt I had done well on this third test and furthermore, pressure was building (inside my own head, caused by my own self) to get an A. This was Intermediate Algebra, the kind they offer for free in high schools all across America, but here I was paying for it like a chump. A not-particularly-bright, grade-sliding chump at that.

I did not want to face telling my husband and family, who have been nothing but supportive and encouraging, that all I got was a B. In the first math class I've had in 14 years. Who had the plate of High Standards with a side of Unreasonable Expectations? Oh, right. That is me.

My mom is in college right now, too. She always gets A's. If she can do it, then so can I!

I do not have a crazy schedule, filled from morning to night with a 40-hour a week job with school on top of that. I have one child, one husband, two elderly cats; I take care of the house, cook dinner, and I have ONE CLASS. There are people who have much more on their plate who get really good grades - like A's - who work 50 hours per week, and who do so as single parents!

I got an 86% on that third test. Hence, I melted.

I melted because I felt I had worked harder than ever to prepare for the last test and all that work deserved more than a B. I had made many silly mistakes, like not checking my answers on the calculator, missing a negative here and there, and flubbing two questions to lose 8 points on those alone. All I could see was my grade sliding down the scale farther and farther in direct proportion to the harder I studied. There was a lot of homework every week, but I didn't put it off until the last minute. I did all the homework that was required, plus the homework that wasn't required.

Except for the sliding grade, I actually enjoyed math this time around. I was learning something. That was not my experience in high school when math was free. The story does have a happy ending.

First, they make a pill for the type of anxiety-induced blathering I tend toward. I used to take them the last time I had a round of uncontrolled anxiety. They worked. Why did I stop taking them? Second, final grades came out last week. I am happy - and slightly embarrassed, now - to say that my final grade was an A.

My whole family earned that A. They were quiet while I did my homework. They watched the laundry pile up and ate leftovers while I did my homework. They muddled through Sunday afternoons with bike rides and playing baseball while I studied at the library. My husband answered many math-related questions while I did my homework. Then, they listened to me have a meltdown because of a B on a test.

(Note to self: a B is a good grade!!)

My mom told me that she has in fact, earned other grades besides A's, especially in math. If math is not my major, then why was I so worried about it? I don't know, because unnecessary anxiety and ulcers sound like a party I don't want to miss? Point taken.

Math 111 started this week. This time, I've got something I didn't have before: perspective. I take 20 mg of it every night.


Deby said...

Good gawd... math as an adult. Voluntarily taking algebra. You get an automatic A in my book already.

When I was in high school I cried almost every night about math. Definately NOT my bag, baby.

For the first time back in a classroom and you choose math as your subject du jour, you rock. Your family rocks too for being so supportive. I wish you the best of luck in your next class. And yes, a B is a good grade.

High Desert Diva said...

My husband signed up for Math 95 a few years ago...just to refresh his memory. He liked it. So he signed up for a calculus class just for fun.
Fun? Math? This does not compute.

Bravo for taking the class, kudos for the A.

Lady M said...

Congratulations on your perspective! And your A. :)