Don’t be a Puzzled Penguin

In the past six months, I’ve learned more about being a first grader than I have since I was a first grader. Part of each of my days is spent in first grade, learning to read and do addition and subtraction. Part of each day is spent in third grade as well, learning to read a little better and do multiplication and division.

There are a lot more parents, like me, in first grade this year than there were in the 1973-74 academic year. As I recall, it used to be mostly little kids, but now parents are having to figure out how to use all the many online tools that make the remote learning elementary school go. Fortunately, we all have a six or seven-year-old nearby to help us.

It’s kind of a vicious cycle, but in order that we don’t get too frustrated, we call it a symbiotic relationship: Big Man wants help with his homework; before I can begin to help him, he must teach me how to use the online platform that jealously guards this day’s homework inside its electronic labyrinth.

It can be taxing, but we’re getting through it together. Our two heads combined are enough to graduate one of us from first grade. I just hope it’s the one still full of potential.

Along the way, we’ve have had some adventures and met some characters. One of the noteworthy entities I’ve met in electronic first grade is the Puzzled Penguin. The Puzzled Penguin shows up occasionally on one of the arithmetic applications.

I first met the Puzzled Penguin when Big Man and I encountered a math problem that went something like this:

                The Puzzled Penguin thinks 7 + 5 = 10 + 3. Is he correct?

Before I had even finished reading the problem, Big Man announced with certainty: “Nope, he’s wrong!”

I was amazed at the speed of his calculation. “Wow! How’d you do that addition so fast?”

“I didn’t add anything.”

“Then how do you know he’s wrong.”

“Easy. The Puzzled Penguin’s always wrong.”

“But why is he wrong?”

Big Man shrugged. “Because he’s dumb?”

“I mean why is he wrong in this case?”

“Because he’s still dumb?”

I put the screen squarely in front of him. “Okay. Do the math and tell me why he’s wrong.”

He gave me an exasperated look. “I already told you the answer. Because the Puzzled Penguin is always wrong.”

As he was speaking, Buster entered the room. “Oh, the Puzzled Penguin,” Buster mused. “I remember him. That dumb bird is always wrong.”

The only thing we learned about arithmetic that day is that penguins are consistent.

Believe me, we’ve tried to help him.


18 comments on “Don’t be a Puzzled Penguin

  1. Kenneth T. says:

    Ha! I have kindergartener. Being a five year old in school is hard.

  2. Just Joan says:

    Puzzled Penguin is always wrong, huh? Too funny. What I remember about first grade is reading those little primers… Look. Oh, look. See John play with Spot. Look, look, look. Oh, oh, oh. Funny, funny John. John hadn’t met Puzzled Penguin, I guess. Best of luck, Snoozin. 🙂

    • What I remember about first grade is falling asleep at my desk every afternoon. I got up at 4 am to milk cows and was pretty much done by lunch. My sweet teacher let me take my naps in peace. No penguins; only cows.

  3. thegsandwich says:

    Sorry but the name gives away the Poor Penguin’s accuracy rate. And by the way, I know a few politicians who can go by that name right now.

  4. CrankyPants says:

    I can’t even imagine how frustrating it would all be. Hang in there! Sounds like you’ll be even more educated when you’re through this. A “two for.” Lol

  5. Sandi says:

    Oh my goodness! Thank God my husband is home and not traveling. Try doing pre-calculus at home on a tiny tablet. I didn’t even take calculus or chemistry. I told the teenagers, don’t ask mom any school questions. I can’t even figure out their webinex/online stuff and now that hybrid is starting (some days on campus and some at home) and they changed the days my kids will be at campus before they even start next week, I tried to reschedule a doctor’s appt. today for one of them, and I was like, hold on…Hey guys, what days are you going to be HOME. I can’t even schedule their doctor’s appointments with the certainty of their schedules.

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