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shawn L underwood

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Polygons and Heptagons....Oh My
By shawn L underwood
Monday, December 18, 2006

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A day in the life of my fifth grade nephew leads to near disaster when we attend his math class.

Polygons and Heptagons....Oh My


Today was a banner day for my little nephew Sean. He had

his favorite Aunt with the same first and last name attend his grandparent/special person day function. Sean and I are old hands at this sort of thing as we attended the same event but at a different school last year.


The first performance of the day is a concert. Sean has the honor of singing solo. I am very proud of him in his smart suit and tie and untied shoes. He has managed to keep clean for the better part of the drive to school and looks every inch the Vienna choir boy minus the alter server outfit. Craig has absconded with my camera so I am left to the devices of my new cell phone. I manage to figure out the camera/phone with no problem and am ready. My nephew marches out and places himself right in front of the choir leader. She is blocking my view. I move, Sean moves, we play this back and forth shuffling of places several times until I get it right. Snap a few photos for his parents and begin to think of snack time.


We repair to his next class but not before Sean has had time to treat me to a hot chocolate at the school lunch room. He neatly spills chocolate down his sleeve. He assures me no one will notice. Advise him to wash the spots in cold water. Am ignored. We march to class where Sean declares that he can no longer abide his dressy clothes. He begins to wad up his suit coat in his back pack until I gently remind him of his mothers warning to hang up the coat.


The class is math. We are working on polygons and heptagons. This is ridiculous, Sean is in fifth grade! I begin to seriously sweat when the teacher advises the students to bring out the compass and protractor. This is not good for me. Looks feverishly at my watch, a half hour to go. The teacher suggests that we might like to help our charges in their studies. Hastily make my way to the bathroom, stay there a long while. When I emerge we are beginning our origami project, my past inadequacies of spatial problems begin to haunt me. The teacher encourages us to measure all angles; this is the stuff nightmares are made of.


Finally the teacher wonders if we the guests might like to relay our favorite fifth grade math stories. Oh God, this keeps getting worse and worse. All of the guests are World War II generation, most of them are a bit hazy but they are united in one thought. No one had to do this level of math until high school. Begin to feel a bit better when it is my turn. I relay the importance of the multiplication tables and percentages. Students look at me like I am some kind of numbskull but I stand by my statement. One does need to figure out the tip.............

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