Mom’s Fifth Time in Fifth Grade

By Shellie Miller-Farrugia

Whatever school grade level an American mother has accomplished personally, if she’s got at least one child older than 12, she is smarter than a fifth-grader. Math, science, spelling, social studies, geography; Most of us have done at least once ourselves, and then for every child, we’ve reared, we’ve accomplished it all over again. Now that all the kids are graduated, I should have five mortarboard tassels!

After attending the fifth grade for the fifth time now, there are a few things that I don’t need Google for. If I’m ever quizzed about state capitals, all fifty answers await dispensation. A clear image of the US map is also burned into the left half of my brain, with the states clearly outlined and blank, awaiting my labeling either in full monikers or the two-letter abbreviation accepted by the US Postal service.

My knowledge from fifth grade isn’t limited to just geography. Health was another exciting subject that I’ve now lived through almost half a dozen times. Esophagus, small intestine, large intestine, sleep, diet, exercise and more are all terms I understand intimately. Surpassing my classroom knowledge is my life experience with four babies and all of their biological excitement. From the moment you bring your infant home, it’s an unfolding experiment. Breast or formula? When do I introduce solid foods, and which should I start with? This vomit is a funny color. Does food coloring affect sleeping patterns? When they don’t sleep, do they still grow? When I don’t sleep, do I still care?

An unending list of grammar rules and words is also trapped inside my ten-pound head. The quotes go on the OUTSIDE of the punctuation. The comma goes BEFORE the word ‘and’ in a compound sentence. My cranium overfloweth with every spelling word that my four children and I have studied in our lifetimes thus far.

Despite my son’s teacher’s assumption that his mother did the bulk of his science project, I insist that pasting somnambulistic factoids to a three-panel presentation board was never in my nature. I was titillated by things far more exciting like proofreading for errant apostrophes, organizing flashcards or demonstrating fractions with a pizza cutter and a healthy appetite.

Making educational memories with my kids was terrific fun! A great many of our shared chuckles had to do with study time, deadline crunches for term papers, and special rewards for academic accomplishments. I have fond memories of showing up at the school cafeteria to join one of my children for a midday meal, while reminiscing about my own first time in the big lunchroom; in the second grade at Cypress Elementary School.

Now that I’ve gone to five high schools, five middle schools and five elementary schools (with only one move), it seems like motherhood is one long and eventful school day. Here’s to us, moms! We ARE smarter than our kids will ever give us credit for! My husband knows this, and as he asks me from his desk three rooms away, “Honey, how do you spell fortitude?” I think to myself, “Hasn’t he heard of Google?”

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