Palm Sunday 2015

It’s Palm Sunday, which means Polish Mass. No matter which Sunday it falls on — Polish Mass is always the last Sunday of the month — the Poles in the area gather for Mass. We’ve been lucky to have three Polish priests in the area (or the near-area) for about five years now, so that means Polish Mass on Christmas, on Palm Sunday, and on Easter Sunday, no matter which Sunday that might be.


This year, though, it’s different. During Passiontide, it’s customary to cover the statuary of the Holy Family in Catholic churches, but this year was the first year our parish did it. Perhaps it’s because of the size of the altar piece. It sets a solemn occasion, and a long Gospel reading, done with various individuals taking the various parts:

The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
were to take place in two days’ time.
So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way
to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.
They said, “Not during the festival,
for fear that there may be a riot among the people.”

When he was in Bethany reclining at table
in the house of Simon the leper,
a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,
costly genuine spikenard.
She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
There were some who were indignant.
“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?
It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages
and the money given to the poor.”
They were infuriated with her.
Jesus said, “Let her alone.
Why do you make trouble for her?
She has done a good thing for me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and whenever you wish you can do good to them,
but you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you,
wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve,
went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them.
When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money.
Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
his disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he came with the Twelve.
And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me,
one who is eating with me.”
They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one,
“Surely it is not I?”
He said to them,
“One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish.
For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
“All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be dispersed.
But after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though all should have their faith shaken,
mine will not be.”
Then Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows twice
you will deny me three times.”
But he vehemently replied,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And they all spoke similarly.
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I pray.”
He took with him Peter, James, and John,
and began to be troubled and distressed.
Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch.”
He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed
that if it were possible the hour might pass by him;
he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.
Take this cup away from me,
but not what I will but what you will.”
When he returned he found them asleep.
He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing.
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open
and did not know what to answer him.
He returned a third time and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
It is enough. The hour has come.
Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Then, while he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs
who had come from the chief priests,
the scribes, and the elders.
His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one;
arrest him and lead him away securely.”
He came and immediately went over to him and said,
“Rabbi.” And he kissed him.
At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
One of the bystanders drew his sword,
struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear.
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs, to seize me?
Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me;
but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.”
And they all left him and fled.
Now a young man followed him
wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
They seized him,
but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.

They led Jesus away to the high priest,
and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard
and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death, but they found none.
Many gave false witness against him,
but their testimony did not agree.
Some took the stand and testified falsely against him,
alleging, “We heard him say,
‘I will destroy this temple made with hands
and within three days I will build another
not made with hands.’”
Even so their testimony did not agree.
The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus,
saying, “Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But he was silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked him and said to him,
“Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?”
Then Jesus answered, “I am;
and ‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power
and coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
At that the high priest tore his garments and said,
“hat further need have we of witnesses?
You have heard the blasphemy.
What do you think?”
They all condemned him as deserving to die.
Some began to spit on him.
They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!”
And the guards greeted him with blows.

While Peter was below in the courtyard,
one of the high priest’s maids came along.
Seeing Peter warming himself,
she looked intently at him and said,
“You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”
But he denied it saying,
“I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.”
So he went out into the outer court.
Then the cock crowed.
The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,
“This man is one of them.”
Once again he denied it.
A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more,
“Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.”
He began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know this man about whom you are talking.”
And immediately a cock crowed a second time.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him,
“Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”
He broke down and wept.

As soon as morning came,
the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
“Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of.”
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
Pilate answered,
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
“Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?”
They shouted again, “Crucify him.”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.”
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, AHail, King of the Jews!”
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.

They brought him to the place of Golgotha
— which is translated Place of the Skull —
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
“The King of the Jews.”
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
“Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross.”
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe.”
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“Look, he is calling Elijah.”
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
There were also women looking on from a distance.
Among them were Mary Magdalene,
Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome.
These women had followed him when he was in Galilee
and ministered to him.
There were also many other women
who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

When it was already evening,
since it was the day of preparation,
the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea,
a distinguished member of the council,
who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God,
came and courageously went to Pilate
and asked for the body of Jesus.
Pilate was amazed that he was already dead.
He summoned the centurion
and asked him if Jesus had already died.
And when he learned of it from the centurion,
he gave the body to Joseph.
Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down,
wrapped him in the linen cloth,
and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses
watched where he was laid.

It’s a long reading. We all kneel when the lector reads “Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” Today, though, we miss most of the reading: the Boy had trouble going to sleep, and I decide to let him linger in the crib a bit, knowing we’ll be late but also knowing what might be a priority.


After Mass, it is as it always has been: a pot-luck meal, a palm contest, some performances.


Father Theo, who is so wonderfully encouraging for the Polish community and works hard to make sure that there is always a Polish priest in the area, always appears during the pot-luck, politely refuses food (except for homemade deserts — who can turn that down?) and mingles a bit after watching the proceedings with a smile. An immigrant himself, he understands the importance of one’s home language, one’s native culture, one’s sense of belonging.


In the end this year, there was only one performance: the Girl with K sing a song, and only because L decides during the ride over that they must — simply must — have a song to sing.


E, seeing them, runs to join them, then decides he needs to sing something as well. With so many songs of which he can now sing a verse or two, he chooses to improvise.

In many ways, though, the real star of the day, the real gospel, is just outside.

First Sunday Out

Temperatures in the low eighties, buds appearing on every tree — it’s safe to say that spring is finally here, if not according to the calendar at least according to the thermometer. And on such a beautiful day, it would be an absolute crime to stay at home, so after the Boy’s nap, we headed to the zoo and then spent some time in Cleveland Park next door.

Another Saturday Morning

We are aware of what the kids watch, and we’ve cut a few shows from L’s media diet because of concerns about values and behaviors exhibited and hence promoted.

But what about shows I just personally find annoying? Pokemon is a prime example. L loves it; E enjoys it — I think it’s the most irritating thing on earth. But is that any reason to ban it? Certainly not. But it’s plenty of reason to tell them, “Turn it down. Way down.”


Seeing You in Them and Them in You

Dear Terrance,

You did some work today. It’s a rare occurrence, to be honest, and most of the time you seem more interested in drawing attention to yourself by any negative means necessary. But today, for some reason, you worked.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely say it many times again, but the only substantive difference between you and the folks in the class you call “the smart class” is that they work as consistently as you disrupt. But if you could start to see them in yourself, perhaps we could start making some real progress.

However, I worry. I see you in another group all too easily. Perhaps you heard about the lynching that occurred in a Brooklyn McDonalds, where seven or so girls ganged up on a single girl and beat her unconscious while onlookers cheered, laughed, and filmed it on their cell phones. Sadly, it’s not too hard for me to imagine you among them, cheering the girls on, holding your cell phone while eagerly thinking about what you’ll tag this with on Twitter. Not a single patron stepped in to help the girl, who ironically is now bragging on social media about the fame she has. Twisted world, Terrance, and sadly, as I said, I can somehow see you in that crowd. It’s not hard to imagine.

But after seeing you work today, it’s not hard imagining you being in an entirely different group.

The choice is yours, I suppose, but I wonder if it hasn’t already been made through fourteen years of habituated behavior. I hope not, because the future of people who stand around and cheer while someone is getting assaulted is not a bright one. You deserve better, so choose better.

With a glimmer of hope,
Your Teacher

A Tragedy in the Making


Herbert Armstrong

It had to happen. From the morning of January 16, 1986, it became an inevitability. When the charismatic leader of a religious organization dies, change is inevitable. I suppose it doesn’t have to be a particularly charismatic leader to necessitate change when he dies, but the more charismatic, the harder it is to maintain the same arch of theological development because so much of the theology is grounded in the leader’s personality, whether or not followers admit or even are aware of it.

When Herbert Armstrong (HWA) died in 1986, there was no way things could go on as they had before. The most basic reason was simple: everyone believed, implicitly or explicitly, that Armstrong would be alive until the end of time as we know it, until Jesus’s second coming. When he passed in his sleep without a single trumpet blast from heaven, without a chorus of angels announcing the return of God incarnate to Earth, it was the first of several inevitable changes in theology. When the new leadership began changing doctrinal distinctives like British-Israelism and the nature of God, the changes were simply too much for some who longed to return to the age of Armstrong. They removed themselves from fellowship and formed an offshoot. More like a hundred-and-some offshoots, but three or four main ones.

Each of these offshoots were in competition for new members as they left the parent organization for the dozens of newly-forming off-shoots, and for many, the medium for measuring the acceptability of this or that splinter group (as they came to be called) when considering membership became the group’s faithfulness to Armstrong’s teachings, which constituted true Christianity restored again. But slowly, inevitably, these groups began tinkering around the edges of Armstrong’s theology. This point was “clarified,” and that one “elucidated.” Nothing ever really changed — it was all euphemistically described to the followers, just as it had been in the original group after Armstrong’s death.


David Pack

David Pack, though, founded a group called the Restored Church of God that built its whole membership on the solemn promise that nothing about HWA’s teachings would change. But reality tends to get in the way of such far-reaching promises, and one of the earliest dilemmas for the church was the appropriate use of the Internet in spreading Pack’s (and by extension, HWA’s) theological musings. After all, Mr. Armstrong didn’t use the Internet: he used radio and television. For the outsider, this seems like a simple issue: Herbert Armstrong didn’t use the Internet because it didn’t exist, and so it wasn’t any kind of doctrinal issue, just an administrative decision. Still, Pack took a whole sermon to explain to his small flock that, even though it looked like he was making a change, he wasn’t making a doctrinal change.

But further challenges waited.

As Pack was only ordained a pastor in Armstrong’s church before the breakup, and as he recognized only Armstrong as an authority, he had another problem: He wasn’t doing a pastor’s job. He was preaching the Armstrongite Gospel to the world, which Herbert Armstrong always taught is an apostle’s job. Armstrong was, in the eyes of his followers (which is really all that matters), an apostle on the same standing as the New Testament apostles, and for a pastor to step out of his assigned roll like that seemed mutinous. It was change. So in 2004, Pack declared himself an apostle as well. Problem solved.

But a door opened.

Once a leader who has sworn not to change a single teaching of his claimed predecessor, all doctrines become open for review. This is what happened in the Worldwide Church of God that ultimately led to its turn to orthodoxy and the thousands upon thousands of members who fled to other splinter groups to hold on to the faith once delivered. Pack would have to be very careful not to make changes that seem too drastic, too far-reaching. The solution: add doctrines. Don’t change any existing ones — just add. “These weren’t revealed to Herbert Armstrong because he didn’t need to know it, but now I can restore this truth.”

He has criticized other leaders for doing this, but it was of course inevitable that he do it himself. But how far could he go? He declared himself an apostle in 2004 shortly after declaring himself to be the prophesied “Watchman.” It’s been over ten years since he made a major change that he’s revealed to the public. In his most recent sermon, though, Pack makes the biggest and most dramatic change of his career, arguably of just about any of the splinter leaders.

In short, he makes the claim that if “you were called by God, and you are to participate in his work and walk in his ways, you have to turn over your assets to God’s church” and that “salvation is attached to [this new doctrine].” He calls this doctrine “Common,” and roots it in the observation that the New Testament church apparently shared a lot of things.”Not even Armstrong went that far,” a friend and fellow cult-watching enthusiast commented, and that’s about right: it is such a drastic change from Armstrong’s simple requirement of a 10% tithe on pre-tax income figures that it amounts a wholesale theological change. After all, how can you tithe 10% when you’ve already contributed all your assets?

This change reveals a megalomaniac mindset of literally historic proportions, a cult of personality that is simply dangerous.

Yet how could this happen? How could he go so much further than Herbert Armstrong ever dared, demanding more fiscally from his followers than Armstrong even dreamed of requiring? It is in part because I believe Armstrong was more mentally stable. Armstrong declared himself to be prophesied in the Bible, but he claimed no supernatural powers for himself. Pack has done just that.

Just what these extraordinary powers might be remains unanswered. But clearly there’s a disconnect between reality and how Pack sees reality. But when you see yourself literally in the Bible — well, when you see yourself in the Bible after using some horrible interpretative techniques — there’s almost no limit to what you can attribute to yourself. It’s not too hard to see how far reality has taken leave from Pack.

To suggest that because one Hebrew word appears to be pronounced like the man’s hometown — that shows just how little Pack understands basic exegetical concepts. But it gets worse:

Moses’s “strong hand” equals Armstrong? It would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that so many people are allowing themselves to be duped with this nonsense.

One would think that after the long history of false predictions, both in the Armstrong community and in the general Christian prophecy-loving population, that a leader of a group in 2015 would have learned some lessons. If he hadn’t learned from others, one would think that Pack at least learned from himself. In 2004, for example, he stated the following, playfully edited:

It is now 2015, so apparently we did have ten years remaining until the end of the world as we know it, and I would wager that, come 2019, we still won’t have seen the end of the world. And yet, on and on he will go until the day that he dies continually proclaiming that “time is short,” just like Armstrong did.


G. K. Chesterton wrote,

A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough . . . It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again,’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again,’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Which explains why the Boy, when given the chance to go outside today — an opportunity we’ll take every chance we can get for the next several weeks — he wanted to explore. Just as we did Saturday. Just as we did yesterday evening. And in exploring, go to all the same places we always go.

“Do it again, Daddy.”



In the meantime, the Girl made a discovery:

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It’s possible to run up a tree.


A warm day in early March makes us all think that perhaps we’ve turned the corner, that maybe we’ll leave behind all the cold and dark of winter for the year now and begin thawing.


Granted, as someone in South Carolina, I can hardly complain about the cold, about true cold, but this year, we’ve had a few doses of true cold, of temperatures in the single digits, and we’re all tired of it.


And so today, we got out as often as we could. Before the Boy’s nap, we headed out to play Red Light, Green Light, one of the Boy’s favorites, even if he doesn’t quite understand it. Call “Red light!” and he trots up beside whoever his opponent is and only then stops, most often with a smile.


Afterward, we head to the backyard for some exploring. That usually, no always, means wandering and wondering about the two backyards, ours and our absent neighbor’s, going to all the same places we always go — our little hideouts, our little lookouts.


The trees, we discover during our walk, are eager for spring as well.

After the exploring, it’s time to swing. Those two activities are the staples of our backyard adventures, with the order changing. Yet there has been a change in the last year: the Girl has taken over our role of pushing the Boy. But in true Girl fashion, she turns it into a game in and of itself. When the Boy accidentally kicks her, she moves into position to let him do it again — after she fusses just a few moments — and then begins performing. Only a slideshow can do the performance justice.

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After a few minutes, it’s time to switch. And that reveals another change: the Girl is far more patient these days than she was a year ago, a month ago. Well about some things.

“Is it my turn, Daddy?” she asks.

“No, let him swing a little longer,” I reply, and she does. But eventually, it’s time to be fair. She gets in the swing, her legs flopping over the edge, and the Boy heads off to find things to toss into the drainage ditch we call our stream.


He prefers sticks, but I collect them all to divide between our fire ring and our smoker, the better going to the latter.


By and large, I manage to convince him that spiky balls — Sweetgum seed pods — are far better for tossing. They carry farther, and the far more numerous.

The Girl, though, takes out her Explorer’s Notebook, which is also her Drawing Notebook, and begins making notes of all the “extraordinary” (a new favorite word) discoveries we made, all the poisonous trees and plans, the Wild Cat, the imaginary creatures — all our near-misses.


After the Boy’s nap, we head to a local park. We were going to go to the small park by the small local airport, but the Girl was eager to go exploring more, somewhere new, and the Boy, to our surprise, was eager to change our plans.


We head out for a walk, making our way to the observation deck.


And back.



We end with some time on the playground.

Some things just don’t change.

Wrong but Right

“Daddy, is she a good student?” The Girl was helping me grade papers (she loves going over multiple choice work — no really, there’s no convincing or arm-twisting necessary), and as she always does, she asked about this student and that student. I glanced at the name.

Is she a good student? How I answer that question would depend on how we define a good student. If we define it as a student who is always hard-working, who is always pleasant to be with, who always gets her work done and always does stellar work, there was no way I could possibly describe the student L was asking about as a “good student.” Indeed, by that metric, she is just about everything — anything — but. Or at least she was. At the beginning of the year, she was belligerent, often refusing to work, often showing nothing but unreasonable anger about any correction or redirection. She was, in short, a nightmare student. And that means that I was immediately drawn to her, immediately interested in helping her, and immediately frustrated with her more often than not.

But the last few months, she’s been changing. Some days, she works. Some days, she’s incredibly attentive during whole-class instruction. And then some days, she’s back to her old games. But there is progress. And really, if we look at any definition of a good student, progress must be factored into the definition.

“Sometimes, sweetie, sometimes,” I said, then added, “Why?”

“Because she got them all right.”


Tonight, the Boy and the Girl both showed just how well they can adapt to new situations and learn from them. The Boy wanted marshmallows. He knew where they were, but at not even three years old, he was knew he was far too little to reach them. Without assistance. He also knew that he would never get us to help him — he knows when sweets are allowed and when they’re not an option — and so he figured, “Who needs help for any of it?”


The Girl, on the other hand, has been complaining that school is boring because it’s too easy. “All we do is go over stuff I already know.” Perhaps that’s why her teacher gave her her new assignment, or perhaps it was just coincidence. At any rate, this evening she was complaining that the new work was way too hard. “It’s third grade work, at least!” I took a look at it and realized the work would require a rudimentary understanding of long division. And so I sat down with her and showed her how to do it. With the help of several examples, a multiplication table, and consistent help (“No, now you have to subtract.”), she got it.