I had a day off coming up, and I had plans: exams to grade, classes to prepare, and housework to complete. Then, my son’s Physics teacher phoned to tell me that my son hadn’t turned in some homework. I knew he would have the day off too, so I said, “You will do this work tomorrow, okay?”
“I don’t understand Physics!” he said.
“I’ll help you,” I answered. He stared at me doubtfully. “I know I’m not expert on that subject, but we’ll figure it out,” I said.
The next morning, I got his Physics homework and saw four problems about velocity, speed, and time. I read problem 1: “A high school bus travels 240 km in 6.0 h. What is its average speed for the trip?”
It doesn’t seem too hard, I thought. “Ok, son,” I said confidently. “Get your notebook and review the notes you took about velocity, speed and time.” He grabbed his notebook, opened it, and started to flip page after page, going back and forth trying to find the information. This lasted several minutes. These weren’t the plans I had for this day, I thought.
“You didn’t take notes?” I asked him, trying to stay calm.
“Yes, I did,” he said. “I just don’t know where I wrote them.”
I glanced to his notes while he flipped the pages. They were a mess: no dates, no topic names, different themes combined on a single page. I knew in that moment that it would be a long day, and I was angry because I had different plans for the day.
“Where are the notes?” I asked angrily.
“I don’t know!” He started sobbing.
“Ok,” I said. “Let’s start with the first problem.”
“I know where the formula for this one is.” he said. He flipped a page. “It’s Speed = distance/time.”
“All right,” I said. “Now let’s solve it.”
“I don’t know what to do, dad,” he answered.
I explained the steps to solve the problem, and so my day off started.
Unfortunately, it turned out that those were the easy problems. My mind went blank on the next problem: “A car traveling with a speed of 20km/hr comes into rest in 0.5 hrs. What will be the value of its retardation in km/hr2?”
“Any idea what to do?” I asked.
“Nope,” he said.
“Do you have a similar problem in your notes?” I asked. It turned out that he had one, but it was unsolved.
Many YouTube tutorials and five hours later, we finally finished.
The worst part was when he told me the next day that all the problems were incorrect! I couldn’t help laughing.
It may seem that we wasted five hours figuring out Physics problems that were wrong anyway, but the time spent with my son was time well spent. Life as a teacher can be busy, and we needed that time together. I told him sincerely that I had enjoyed being with him. He just smiled.
I had plans, but so did God.
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