It happened something like this.
Miss B mentioned that she was having difficulty with her math homework. I told her to bring it to me and I would see what I could do. It was a worksheet dealing with inverse operations. I brushed up a bit on the subject and quickly remembered what to do. Let me just insert here that I am pretty darn good at math. Especially back in the day. I am not meaning to brag, or toot my own horn, but I know my way around the Quadratic Formula. Plus I like math. I like figuring it out. It's like a puzzle. Also, Miss B is pretty darn good at math herself. So.
After looking over the worksheet, I say to Miss B, "What you need to do is get x by itself. And remember...whatever you do to one side of the equation, you must do to the other side. It's like a teeter totter and we have to keep it balanced."
Miss B stares at me blankly and gives an eversoslight roll of an eyeball.
"Mom." she says. "I don't get it. My teacher will show me how to do it tomorrow. She's better at it."
"No it's okay, I can show you. Watch. The x is being multiplied by 5, so you just divide by 5 to get x by itself. Then we have to divide by 5 on the other side of the equation to keep it balanced. Make sense?"
"Nope. I'll just ask my teacher." *sound of heels digging in*
"So you don't think I know what I'm doing?"
"Welllll... you don't have a teaching degree..."
"Yes well I tutored plenty of people in my day."
"With inverse operations?!"
"Um yes. Along with many other things. I tutored in high school and in college." (I considered giving her my resume at this point to prove my worthiness.)
"Well you haven't taught kids."
"Yes I have. I helped my younger brother and sisters....wait it doesn't really matter. I know what I'm doing. I can teach you."
*eye roll* "I just don't get it. Why are you doing that?"
"I told you, we are dividing by 5 to get x alone."
"Why? I don't get it."
"Well I don't think you're trying to get it. You know this stuff."
"Well I don't want to learn after school. My brain is tired and you don't know how to teach it right. You should divide like this."
"You can't divide like that in an equation. It doesn't work. You have to make it a fraction."
"Well I can do it however I want."
"No you can't because we have to follow the directions and keep it in equation form."
"This is the way I want to do it and I don't understand why I can't."
That's when I imploded for about an hour and flames shot out my eyeballs and I decided to go make dinner before I developed a nasty twitch. Then we tried again, and she was a little more open and willing.
"Okay." I said. "See we divided by 5 on the first side, but the other side is a fraction and to divide a fraction by a whole number, you have to multiply it by the inverse of that number."
"Oh yeah. I know that."
"Okay so what do we do?"
"I don't know."
"But you just told me you knew."
"What do you mean? Knew what?"
*deeeeeep breath* "Oh my goodness. You said you knew how to multiply by the inverse."
"I did? I don't know what you're talking about and I just don't see why I need to learn this. When am I ever going to use this in my life?"
"You'll use it one day. Mark my words. One day when your ungrateful child needs help with their math homework, that's when you'll use it. And you will be so happy that you have the knowledge to help them. Then they will tell you that you don't know anything and that their teacher (who has not given them life, or potty-trained them, or kissed scrapes, or patted them to sleep for hours) is suddenly light years more knowledgeable than you and you'll feel all kinds of awful because you will remember that you did the same thing to your poor mother and you will call me and apologize for all you put me through. And that will be a glorious day of sweet validation. I am really, REALLY looking forward to that day. Now finish that last problem."
Mind you, this is the same girl who told her attorney father that basically she knows more about contract law than he does.
At least she still thinks I'm funny...