Last week when my son Tanner told me that his accelerated algebra class at Raymond J. Fisher Middle School with Mrs. Blasberg was harder than anything I’ve ever done—including childbirth—I decided it was time for a little Freaky Friday action.
Remember the original movie where Jodie Foster wakes up one morning in her mother’s body? As the day goes by, Jodie gradually grows more appreciative of her mother’s life. I hoped Tanner would come to the same realization. I was also curious to see just how tough the notorious Mrs. Blasberg really was.
So, we agreed to switch lives for a day.
First, I filled a backpack with bricks to simulate the weight of Tanner’s ridiculously heavy load. Then I heaved the satchel over my shoulder, promptly undo-ing months worth of yoga, hopped on my bike and headed for school. First period was yep—accelerated algebra with Mrs. Blasberg. I didn’t want to be late.
I walked in the classroom and stopped in my tracks, dumbstruck. This was the woman who struck fear in the heart of every 14-year-old boy in school? A waif with cropped bangs, she was a dead ringer for the eccentric fashion designer Edna in The Incredibles.
“Okay, class,” Mrs. Blasberg said lifting her arms like a conductor. “And a one and a two and a three, hit it!” The students launched into a song about the quadratic formula set to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.” I stifled a giggle at my male classmates’ puberty-addled voices. Their rendition reminded me of the The Brady Bunch episode when Peter squeaks through “A Time to Change.”
After we corrected our homework, Mrs. Blasberg analyzed some parabolas and axis of symmetry on the whiteboard. I jotted down notes as fast as I could, but after five minutes I was lost and my eyes glazed over. Then the algebraic heavens parted and it was time for students to share their linear modeling projects on the overhead projector.
First up was Isabelle, a brunette with soft Taylor Swift ringlets. Mrs. Blasberg went gaga for Isabelle’s “Handy Andy the Milk Seller” theme. “Super duper. Love it!” she exclaimed. For a moment, I reverted to my catty inner eighth-grader, wondering how Isabelle had possibly found time to excel at her linear modeling project—and her hair and makeup.
Soon we were dismissed and it was time for break. I wanted to meet up with Tanner’s posse to talk about Xbox “Call of Duty,” but my son had forbidden me from hanging out with his friends. Plus, they’re always giving each other dead legs and horse collars and I didn’t want to get hurt. My back was already killing me from lugging around the ton of bricks.
Back home, Tanner was up to his yellow rubber gloves washing dirty dishes. And folding mounds of laundry while I chilled on the couch playing Black Ops on Xbox. I made sure to yell, “Oh yeah! I sniped you! You just got noob tubed. WAR-GASM!!” and other violent stuff into my headset. “Tanner! Don’t forget about your ‘’ deadline for Patch!” I yelled into the kitchen. “And, oh yeah, I’m starving. What’s for dinner?”
“Chicken curry,” he answered.
“Oh, no! Not again!” I whined. “Hope you remembered to ask the butchers to pound out the chicken breasts.” Then I headed into my bedroom to start on the 50 algebra homework problems assigned by Mrs. Blasberg. I stared at my mathbook trying to wrap my fuzzy brain around slopes and x- and y-intercepts. Chicken pounding was starting to look good. So was a martini.
But it wasn’t time to switch back just yet.
For the first time in his 14 years, my son cooked dinner. At the table I inspected every morsel of chicken just like he always does. “Is there ANY fat on this?” I interrogated.
“No, mom,” sighed Tanner. “Just eat your dinner.”
All told, dinner was delicious. Even more delicious? Tanner cleaned up afterward. For the second time that day I was dumbstruck. Tanner could cook an entire dinner? By himself? And wash every dish (including pots and pans) afterward?
In the end, even though he maintains his life is way harder than mine, and that cooking and cleaning is easy, I came out a winner. I realized my son is capable of doing much more than I give him credit for. Now, once a month, Tanner makes dinner for our family.
Alas, I am still hopeless at algebra.