I had to call my dad the other day to apologize and, in the process, gave him a laugh and a moment every parent dreams of. When he picked up the phone, I said, "I'm sorry I was such a pain in the ass all those times you helped me with math homework." Why would I call him now, more than a quarter of a century later, to apologize for behavior back then? Because I got a taste of just how fucking impossible I must have been. Marty was trying to do his pre-algebra homework (multi-step equations with unknown variables and both negative and positive integers) and just wasn't quite getting it right. He ended up getting so agitated and so convinced that he couldn't do it that explanations that would normally make sense to him were causing him to scream at me in frustration. Instead of listening to the explanations, he would jump 3 or 4 steps ahead and, of course, not understand because an assumption he made was wrong. He was driving me INSANE.
See, I can remember behaving EXACTLY like that when my dad would try to help me with my pre-algebra and algebra homework. I remember just how crazy I let it drive me and how I would yell and stomp and loudly state that it MADE NO SENSE!...because obviously it was the principals of mathematics that made no sense. It couldn't be me that was the problem. Fast forward from 1982ish to today in 2009 and put me in the roll of the parent and Marty in my part and that was exactly what I went through the other night.
However, despite the crazy making potential of the situation, I stuck with it, just like my dad stuck with it with me. In the end, Marty finally understood how to simplify those equations and I didn't have to wait over 25 years for my apology. The next day, Marty came to me and said thank you for helping him and told me he was sorry he had been such a pain. He then told me I had helped him understand it well enough that he was able to help a friend learn it.
Huge kudos to Marty for admitting his behavior and having the cojones to admit he had been wrong. I know i didn't do that at his age.
And, Dad, I'm sorry it took me over 25 years to truly understand what a pain in the ass I was all those times we worked on Math together.