52. Puzzled

Don’t you hate it when this happens?

Last night granddaughter T.T. came over so Uncle Matt could help her with a history assignment.  Matt is a history fanatic so challenging him with minutia about Bull Run or Ancient Greece, or the Mayan civilization is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

T.T. — now age seventeen – is in the Running Start program at one of our community colleges.  Running Start allows students to collect up to 2 years of college credits while still in high school.  Nice for everybody — the schools, the kids who want to finish college sooner and parents who appreciate the economy of two years of free college tuition for their young prodigies.

But unless you’re a Rhodes Scholar, it’s not so nice for the folks who try to “help with homework” as I will now demonstrate. If you were thinking that community college is just one small step up from high school, stay tuned for the reality.

I was working in the kitchen as T.T. and Matt started discussing the assignment she was puzzled about.  Pretty soon, I was hearing Matt saying “It’s confusing.”  or “I don’t know”.  Pretty soon, I was getting the clear message that he was flat-out stymied.  Obviously, †hey were going to need my help.  Octo-woman to the rescue!

I marched right in, laptop at the ready, and said, “Now what is this assignment, T.T.?”

“We’re supposed to read ‘The Founders’ Constitution’”, she said, “Chapter 15, Documents 58 and 59 and then answer these questions”.

“Oh, is that all?”, I chuckled, booting up my computer confidently.  “Here, let me take a look.”

I started reading Document 58 first. Apparently it was correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  There were two problems with this. The first was that my knowledge of Adams and Jefferson is limited to two bits of information — they were both Presidents of the United States and they both kept getting schools named after them. The second issue was the fact that the material was written in the vernacular of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Murky.  We even tried reading it upside down, to no avail.

Here’s a sample of some of the spicier text:

“But who are these (Greek word for aristocrats)?  Who shall judge?  Who shall select these choice Spirits from the rest of the Congregation?  Themselves?  We must first find out and determine who themselves are.  Shall the congregation choose?  Ask Xenophon.  Perhaps hereafter I may quote you Greek.

All three of us were struggling, scratching our heads, wringing our hands, googling for enlightenment on two computers.

Then daughter Gretchen came over to “help”, so there were four of us puzzled, distraught, and in T.T.’s case, hopelessly disillusioned at her elders’ wretched lack of smarts, and wishing she had never brought the whole thing up. 

The disillusionment of the young — that’s the worst part.  Don’t you hate it when that happens?  You spend years convincing them that you taught Einstein everything he knew, and then this.  Our homework-help had flopped in failure.

Well, we’re going to take another crack at it tonight if we can pry T.T.s assignment out of her grasp.  We may be puzzled, we may be confused, but never beaten.  They may be written in Sanskrit but Documents 58 and 59 are not going to get the best of us if Octo-woman has anything to say about it.

Speaking of puzzles . . . .  it’s only fair that we don’t suffer alone.  Here’s a test for you, too.  It’s only ten little puzzles.  (The answer to #1 is “The Seven Seas”). If you get desperate, you can scroll to the answers down below.  They’re upside down, but, listen, who ever said life is easy?


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One Response to 52. Puzzled

  1. Gretchen Covey says:

    Well said mom!

    TT has elected to muddle through this project on her own. I wonder why?! I have an advantage that I’m happy to share with you….. I have access TT’s History notebook when she is at school, working on other assignments or sleeping. I have been sneaking the material to try to understand it! (I have other homework that I should be doing but I’m determined to figure out TT’s assignment!)

    Mom, now I know where I get my stubbornness! I am not willing drop TT’s assignment and declare stupidity. I have been secretly reading and studying TT’s homework. In addition to the articles that you mentioned in your ‘blob’, there are 75 additional pages of puzzling historical documents to wade through. I have studied the material for at least 10 hours on my own and I am barely beginning to understand some of it! I WILL conquer. Amazingly, TT feels confident to practice writing blue book essays on the material this afternoon. I’m sure that she will teach me a thing or two! (If you and Matt want to secretly decode the material with me this afternoon, call me and I will sneak the material over!)

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