Monday 26 Sep 2016

Homework is Work
Jennifer Flaten

Hunched over the kitchen table, tightly gripping my pencil, I furiously scribble on a piece of paper.

With a sigh, I sit back and contemplate what I have written. Double drat! That isn't right; I quickly erase the entire page, trying very hard not to rub the eraser so hard I rip the paper. Once the page is blank, smeared and thinner but blank I start anew.

Am I doing my taxes? No. Am I balancing my checkbook? Heavens no. Am I working on a complex algorithm that will lead to the invention of a lifetime, thus leaving me to sip Pina Coladas on the beach for the rest of my life?

Ah, if only it were something as simple as that.

Nope, I am engaged in that terrible H word. No, not that word, the other one. The little word that strikes terror into a parent's heart, a word more feared then death and taxes-the seven-letter H word-homework.

Yeah, in this house, homework is right up there with the other seven words you can't say on TV.

If you haven't already guessed it, let me come right out and say it-I don't like homework.

I didn't like it as a kid; in fact, I frequently "forgot" my books at school. The next day found me attempting to write a 500-word essay five minutes before class started.

I know what you're thinking smarty pants but I didn't start this essay five minutes before it was due. It was more like 10, anyway, I digress.

Needless to say, my aversion to homework hasn't diminished as I have matured or failed to mature as the case may be.

Oh, who wants to sit around conjugating verbs after a hard day slaving over the keyboard, oddly enough conjugating verbs?

It's not that I am against homework; I know it is a necessary part of the educational process. I am against the fact that I have to be the homework police and the encyclopedia of mom.

It is sure hard to help the kids do the homework, when you weren't there for the original lesson. I mean I know how I add (with a calculator) or find the capital of Ecuador (with Google) but that is not how they want it done in school.

Each day I peer into the kids backpack hoping to find it devoid of wrinkled and creased papers, which I often mistakenly toss in the rubbish bin only to find out later that they were homework.

I can't believe that teachers won't accept "my mom threw it away" as an excuse!

We all know that kids are notorious for not "remembering" that they have homework.

That is why our school the eliminated a bit of the guesswork, you know that part where you hold up a chocolate stained, crumpled piece of paper and ask "is this your math homework?" and the kids shrugs and says "I don't know", by giving the kids assignment notebooks.

The kids are responsible for writing the homework assignments in the assignment notebook. My mission if I choose to accept it, and I suppose I have no choice, is to decode their chicken scratch, find the papers that go with the assignment, and ride herd on them while they do it.

All the while, I am scratching my head at how they teach things these days. As I attempt to explain something that I do unconsciously everyday (figure out what 4hrs and 20minutes from 8:30 is) to a kid who is more interested in playing with the new kitten then finishing their math.

Then when we are finally done wrestling over expressing the number 10 15 different ways, I have to remember to sign off on not only the actual homework page but also the page in the assignment notebook or my kid gets a zero.

I tell you this homework is just too much home work.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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