I remember a few friends I had, the layout of the halls and the some of the teachers I had in the 5th grade. More importantly however, I remember the mix of pre-teen hormones clashing heinously with the fact that I absolutely sucked at math. I spent countless hours stressing then crying over the homework feeling defeated.
Mom put up with my frustrated outbursts with patience and understanding. She told me stories about how she had done the exact same thing as a kid – cry over math homework. Math was evil! But then she’d also remind me that I had something she never did, a dad who loved me and could help me with my homework.
So, dad would come in and sit next to me and help with my homework. The blues and frustration still stuck around even after hugging dad and thanking him for the help. Again, mom came to the rescue. She had some important information to tell me.
You see, it wasn’t me that was dumb, having issues or struggling so hard with the 5th grade. It was the 5th grade monster! She drew a picture of this goofy looking monster and as we talked we added more googely eyes, antennas, arms and other features. The 5th grade monster complicated everything, messed with my moods, made school work harder and loved to cause trouble. Even moreso, he loved to try to get me down and tell me all the things I couldn’t do. In order to combat the monster, I had to reject what he told me, keep working hard in school and if I felt down, mom and dad were always there to help and cheer me up.
By telling me about the 5th grade monster, mom plucked my young self out of an emotional roller coaster and beginning of self-defeat and turned it into a challenge I could overcome. She reminded me how much I’m loved and that I’m blessed to have a family that is always there to help and comfort. Even years later and in my adulthood, we’d laugh about how mean that 5th grade monster was. It was yet another way mom showed her love and empathy for others.