When Your Kid Has Homework and You Don’t Want to Do It Either

I know I’m supposed to be supportive of the homework my girls bring home. And I can’t help but stand over their little shoulders and critique their work like a wizened old sage. Albeit an old sage who has forgotten how to parse sentences and doesn’t quite remember the capital of Albania.

Sometimes homework feels more like work for me than it is for them. 

Next year we have mandatory science projects for 4th grade. I’ve managed to put this task off until absolutely necessary. Even though we’ve been encouraged to participate every year.  Yet it feels like a Herculean task for a woman like myself who a). never did a science project and b). doesn’t remember all the stages of volcanic layers or how to generate electricity with a rock and some copper wire. 

My mother, who was not encouraged as a child to do her homework, decided to take the opposite approach with my brother and me.

We had to do our homework as soon as we got home. Before we got to play outside or watch television or play video games, she had us sit at the table, whip out our school books, and get to work.

A mature adult copes with tasks that are boring, unpleasant, and drudgery. Might as well teach your little Freedom Fighters how to prioritize tasks now. Also, if you have a video game addiction (as my mom did), you can utilize this quiet time to play Sonic Hedgehog. It really incentivized us to get our work done quickly. 

Thank you, mother, for being a drill sergeant about homework. You’re the best.

Every time I feel badly about using my mother’s approach with my girl, I remember two things:

  1. By the time I was in college, it was ingrained in me to finish or at least make significant headway on my assignments as soon as I was out of class. And I didn’t have a looming assignment interrupting my weekend plans.   
  2. When we wait until after dinner to get started on homework, we usually end up in tears of frustration. There’s a good deal of slinking down in the chair, dropping of pencils, and whining. (That one is me). Although I value good acting as much as the next person, I don’t believe that anyone has died yet from an overdose of elementary school homework. 

It’s gonna be hard, not to mention embarrassing for my girls, when I show up at their jobs someday trying to coax them into doing what they were hired to do. Since none of us want this scenario, teaching them while they are young to take responsibility for their responsibilities is a worthwhile task.

No, it is not fun. I’d rather be reading a book or pulling my fingernails out with pliers. (Which, I suspect, might be less painful.) They would rather be making huge messes for me to clean up later or jumping on the trampoline. But I speak with the wisdom of a middle-aged sage. Get it done early. 

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