Here’s how we do homework after school at my house. David goes down to his room and closes his door and gets it done. This method I prefer almost exclusively.
The rest of them all need my attention. I’d rather have a root canal every day for the rest of my life than endure this for an hour every afternoon.
Amazingly, Cameron actually brought his home. That’s like 75% success already. Feeling good. I have to check Cameron’s math and vocabulary sentences, then go over his spelling words. Justin has a math worksheet and spelling words. Alex wants to do his “homework” too. So I find him a page for him to practice writing his numbers, turn off Spongebob, and we’re ready to rock.
Unfortunately no one can do anything until we find a pencil. Three weeks ago I bought an electric pencil sharpener with titanium blades from Costco. Fucking titanium. Virtually indestructible. NASA uses it. The Navy. Orthopedic surgeons. It was destroyed in about a week. Turns out titanium or not, the motor wasn’t designed to handle a crayon gumming up the works. So we faced the same dilemma we’d had every day pre-titanium pencil sharpener. Cameron fished a mechanical pencil from the darkest recesses of his backpack. All other pencils were broken, eraserless, and pointless. Basically just useless pieces of wood. I found one (of 75) of Cameron’s colored pencils that had a point and gave it to Alex so he could start on his numbers. Cameron and Justin would have to share the mechanical pencil.
This reminds me of a story from one of the books from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Pa scraped up enough money to buy Mary and Laura a slate for school, but when they went to the Oleson’s Mercantile they found out that a slate pencil would cost another penny. Not wanting to have to ask Pa for more money, they agreed to use one of their Christmas pennies to buy the pencil to share. So not much on the prairie has changed in 150 years. Other than the asking for money part. My kids are perfectly comfortable doing that.
So on to Justin’s math. Did we do algebra in first grade? I certainly don’t recall that.
As I’m trying to teach Justin how to work out 4 + ◊ = 8, Alex is looking to me for approval with each number he writes, then starts demanding help with his threes when Cameron points out that he made his backwards. Cameron is supposed to be studying his spelling words. Justin’s being patient, but Alex’s yammering is getting louder, and he breaks the pencil lead out of frustration. Or spite. So I go searching for another colored pencil that has a remnant of a tip to it. Mission accomplished, and I give it to Alex.
Cameron says he’ll just think his spelling words. No he won’t. I put him back on task. Alex has now made his 14 in the wrong place, and says this is stupid homework, he wants his real homework. And breaks another pencil. The dog goes downstairs, which means she needs to pee. Cameron, who normally doesn’t want anything to do with letting her out, makes a beeline downstairs to take her out. We’re still working through Justin’s math while Alex’s crying is starting, for the third time today, to make me really dislike the kid.
Cameron’s back. I go over his math worksheet and find one answer he has wrong, but he says he doesn’t need to do the odd problems, though he did all of them. His teacher needs me to review his homework every day because he spends most of his class time drawing in his journal, and then spends about a second on his homework before turning it in. It’s usually right. But that’s not the point, I guess. Cameron’s all about moving on to the next task, which is not doing him any favors when it comes to standardized tests, which I don’t necessarily view as that big of an issue, but that’s a whole other ballgame I don’t have time to get into now.
Why is Spongebob back on? I tell Cameron to go turn it off, and he goes over and stands by the TV, watching it. “Cameron. Turn. It. Off.”
“Hold on” is Cameron’s comeback for virtually everything. And nothing pisses me off more. “No. I will not hold on. Do it now!”
Justin needs to write down his spelling words, but makes a bag of microwave popcorn while it’s Cameron’s turn to use the pencil. Next is vocabulary sentences. Another thing he turns in without prior approval, on the first day they get the words, having not used the words, or even read them. Meaning I have to give it back to him and say things like, “You can’t use ‘fierce’ as a verb.”
Cameron throws a “was” into his “fierce” sentence as Alex is becoming more obnoxious by the minute, tossing a handful of popcorn on the floor because Penny stole his toy. “You’re the worst MOM! This is NOT my homework! I want different homework.”
“Alex, you’ve lost your homework privileges. If you can’t behave, you can’t sit at the table and do homework with us anymore.”
What? Did I actually just ban him from doing homework?
Justin has the pencil back. He’s supposed to be writing his spelling words as I read Cameron’s words to him so he can say them back to me. Every time Cameron gets a few letters into a word, he’s interrupted by Alex’s wailing. Somehow we make it through this, but Alex still has not stopped crying. He wants to call Dad. Then gets mad because Justin pushed the “9” on the phone for him, so he has to ask me the phone number again. On the fourth time, I realize four numbers in that I’m so furious I’m shouting the numbers at him, and try to dial it back.
Flustered, frustrated and mentally exhausted with pent-up rage, I start to clean up the mess that happens every day after school. Miraculously I only have to tell Cameron once to put his homework back into his backpack. Good thing. I couldn’t have handled that. He tries to con me into agreeing with what he’s entering onto his reading log. When I suggested that I needed to e-mail his teacher to find out if one of his claims is true, I sensed that it was not, but will need confirmation to refute his persuasive argument for the next time he tries to pull something over on me.
They give you Valium with root canals, right?
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012