Eli has one Mean Momma. He had barely escaped the torture of school last spring when Mean Momma announced, “You will be doing math work every day this summer. You need to know your math facts.”

Forget about Common Core for Math. This kid needed automatic responses of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts with no more finger counting. He would learn the math facts, all of them.

Eli thought she had declared a three month course of torture to ruin his idyllic days of summer.

He grumbled and complained.

“You will do these every day. You will memorize the multiplication tables,” his mom insisted.

He protested. She persisted.

He screamed, “I can not do this.”

She insisted he could, and he would.

Mean Momma assured Eli that if he refused to get the worksheets done each day in a timely manner, he would continue with the worksheets even after school began. “Prove to me that you don’t need anymore practice.” She also promise that if he could beat her designated time to do the math drills he would receive a long coveted Lego set.

For multiplication, she began with the tables for one, zero, two and five.

A week later Eli called his grandmother to proudly rattle off those once impossible multiplication tables without once screaming, “I can’t!”

Summer vacation also involved a couple weeks of Daily Vacation Bible School. He had to go every day. Then he had to return home and do his math sheets before he could go out and play.

He joined a swim team. He had to get up early, go to swim practice and give up a couple days for swim meets and practice math while he waited his turn.

Every day before he could play with his electronic toys or watch television, he practiced math. Free afternoons came only after he made his way through a grueling regimen of the math facts.

As the summer of torture wore on, he assured his Mean Momma of one thing, “I am not going to school the first week. I have already done everything they do in school the first week.”

The summer ended with a week long car trip. The first day, Mean Momma handed Eli a new set of math sheets. Longer, harder stuff that included a math sheet with facts he had not practiced before.

He screamed. He cried. He dawdled. He complained. It was a long morning in the car. Mean Momma ignored him. He did the math and he beat the clock.

Summer ended. He was up at 5 a.m. the first day of school working on assembling that coveted, hard earned Lego set. School began and yes, Eli went the first day of the first week. His mom captured his first day report on Facebook, “Eli was BEAMING when he told me that he was the first one done with math today ‘that’s the first time it’s ever happened,’ he said.”

A hard fought parental victory. She tortured that child the entire summer with math facts and flash cards. No long, leisurely days of play at her house. She knew his weak math skills needed three months of summer home schooling focusing on one topic.

A summer of protests and screams of agony that he could not possibly do this and “Why should he?” Yet, in spite of himself, because he had a Mean Momma who insisted, Eli he proved he could.

This year, he says,”Math is going to be my best subject.” It will be ‑ or next summer he will hear again from Mean Momma about the facts of Math.

# Mean momma and the facts of math

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