He Could Probably Design A Homework Machine In The Time It Takes To Finish One Homework Assignment

Homework with Cameron. Exhausting on so many levels.

“Cameron, do you have homework?
“No.”
“None?”
“Well, math, I think. But it’s pages 14 through 38 and it’s going to take 300 hours!”
“Let me see your planner.”
“Here. And you have to sign it twice since I forgot to bring it home yesterday.”
“It says problems 14 through 38, not pages.”
“Do I HAVE to do it now?”
“Yes, you have football later. I’m sure it won’t be hard.”
“Mom, please?”
“Just bring me your book so I can see what it is.”
“Oh no. I forgot my math book. What am I going to do?”
“Did Brandon bring his home?”
“Probably.”
“I’ll call and see if we can borrow his when he’s done. You’ll have to do it after football, and no fussing about it.”
“Ok.”
“Your planner says you’re supposed to review your vocabulary words too. Have you done that?”
“Oh, crap.”
“Let’s do them now so you don’t have to work on that after football too.”
“NOW?”
“Yes.” “*SIGH* Fine.”

It took all of two minutes to go through a list of ten words. He nailed them all right out of the gate, coming up with definitions for the words I hadn’t even thought of. He then went outside with his friend after leaving the TV turned on and the bathroom door wide open and the light on.

I walked into the living room and spotted a math book on top of his backpack. Thinking he’d lied to me about not having it in the first place, I went outside to drag him back in.

“Mom, that’s Brandon’s math book.”
“Well, if he’s done, then you need to get in here and do your homework.”
“But you said after football.”
“You need to get in here and do it now.”

Five minutes of whining, trying to escape on his bike, and he’s finally at the kitchen table ready to work. I’m putting away dishes so I can monitor his every movement.

“Can you help me?”
“Just open your book, get your paper ready, and I’ll come over if you need me.”
“I didn’t bring any notebook paper home.”
“Cameron. Why?” I went to get one of his many journal notebooks lying around and tore out an empty page. “Here.”
“But I don’t want to do ALL these problems. Anyway, I don’t think we’re supposed to do them all, just like 33 to 38.”
“Your planner says 14 to 38.”
“That’s not what we’re supposed to do.”
“Is Brandon in your math class?”
“Yeah.”
“Do you want me to call Renée and see what problems he did?”
“Yeah.”

Phone call to my very patient neighbor reveals he is supposed to do problems 14, 21, 30, and 33-38. I have to ask her to repeat them three times because Cameron has given me a mechanical pencil that doesn’t work.

He starts on the first problem. I look over and he’s writing with just the tip of a pencil that is about 3/4 of an inch long, which he obviously cannibalized from the non-functional mechanical pencil.

“Cameron, you can’t do your homework with that.”
“I don’t have anything else.”

After searching through containers full of crayons, junk drawers and backpacks I’m unable to locate a goddamn pencil. I go to my camera bag, where I always keep a pen and pencil that are off-limits to everyone else. I give it to him.

He starts in again, but instead of completing the problem, he’s playing with the remnants of the now defunct mechanical pencil.

“Cameron. Work on your problem, put the other pencil down.”
“Fine.”
“Seriously, Cameron. Put it away.”
“Fine.”
“Cameron, give me that.” I go to pick up the pieces of the pencil off the table.”
“Wait! Don’t throw away the grippy!”
“I can’t get it off right now, my hands are wet.”

He finally gets finished with the first problem. I dry my hands, sit down and try to get the rubber grip off of his pencil. He watches intently while I do this.

“I know. Grippies are hard to get off.”
“Cameron. Just work on your next problem.”
“Mom, my book’s newer than Brandon’s.”
“Cameron. Just work on your problem.”
“Ok, fine. What’s experienced form again?”
“What? Let me see what one you’re doing. That’s expanded form. Where you write out each number.”
“With the pluses?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, I hate that.”
“It’s easy. Come on, just do it.”
“Mom, this number is really small.”
“Yep.”
“Mom, we did the half mile run today. We have to do that for the presidential fitness test.”
“Yep. Just work on your math right now.”
“Brandon cheated. He went around, you know where the soccer goal posts are. He went around that, and so I did too, but I still came in third place.”
“That’s fantastic. Now finish this problem.”
“Ok. Ok. Oh, we did these in class. We just have to circle the number and write down the value.”
“What are you chewing on?”
“Gum.”
“No, it’s not. Give me that.” He hands over a chewed up pen cap.
“33 through 38 are simple. All you have to do is match up the number to the right form. It’s matching, you just have to write down the letter for your answer.”
“Is ‘b’ right for number 33?”
“No, look at your hundred thousands column.”
“Oh. Duh.”

Now he’s playing with the gripper. I have to take it away.

“Come on, you’re almost done.”
“Just ‘a’ and ‘d” left. Who’s going to win? It’s a race!”
“Just finish up.”
“And it’s ‘a’ races to the finish!”
“Put your stuff away now. Put your assignment in your folder. Put your planner back in your backpack. Hang up your backpack, and go give Brandon his book back.”
“Ok.”

He’s stuffing his paper into his backpack.

“Cameron. Put it in the folder!”
“Ok. Can you help me?”
“Yes. Get your planner. Put it in.”
“Ok.”
“Hang up your backpack. Put that pencil away. Keep it in your backpack so you’ll have a good one to use for homework.”
“Or I could just leave it here.”
“No, then we’ll never see it again. Put it in your backpack.”
“Ok.”
“Now, go give the book back to Brandon.”

I am now mentally fried. About five minutes of work took nearly a half hour.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011 

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