No…seriously…please stop. I feel like I have done my time and my fair share of homework over the years (minus some of the earlier years, admittedly, but I definitely made up for it later, I promise….). When my twelve-year-old approached me with a stack of papers and proclaimed that my assignment was to read through her collection of book reports and to handwrite a critique on each, I was not amused…. Confused…perhaps bemused…but definitely not amused, but I sat myself down and wrote out critiques on each and every one of her book reports…even the ones on books that I had not heard of, never mind read. Imagine my frustration when a few days later I was told, by a scoffing preteen no less, that I had done it incorrectly…failed her. Wait… what the HEY? And why do I feel so crushed? Will I ever escape the grasps of student guilt? Does this mean those nightmares are going to start up again…? Those dreams where I am in class and the teacher is talking, and everyone else is busily taking notes and nodding, and the teacher is speaking some kind of nonsensical, incomprehensible language (well, incomprehensible to me), AND EVERYONE ELSE TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS WHAT IS GOING ON, AND THE TEACHER IS NOW STARING AT…NO, THROUGH ME AND SO ARE THE OTHER STUDENTS…AND I START TO PANIC…AND…WAIT…AM I EVEN WEARING CLOTHES???
Obviously, these dreams can be quite traumatic….Do you really want to be responsible for this? Please stop giving me homework…because, by golly, I’ll do it! And I am already drowning in a whole different kind of homework now that I am a parent. These kids don’t come with a manual, you know! They are complicated! They are unpredictable! And the more you have…the less you know! I figured that by child number three I would have experience and I would know what I was doing. This would be my third rodeo, after all! Well, it turns out that thinking that parenting your first…or even second child will adequately prepare you for subsequent children is the equivalent of assuming that you are well prepared for your Quantum Physics exam thanks to that handy Shakespearean Literature course you took a few years back. Sure, there are a few things you have down, your name goes at the top of the page…food goes in this end and comes out that one…but which foods? That one ate everything! This one won’t eat anything…and that other one is eating things that are not supposed to be eaten!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that many parental homework assignments are given to assure that parents are involved in their child’s education. I have my doubts, however, about the parents who do not wish to be involved actually doing the homework…. I would guess that the parents who are taking the time to do these assignments are most likely already quite involved. Which leads to a quick mention of those parents who may be a bit too involved…oh…of course little Tommy did that science fair project all by himself! What kindergartner doesn’t have a firm grasp on the quantum mechanics of gravity? But that, my friends, is an entirely different conversation.
Back to griping about having too much homework…which is having the not unpleasant adverse effect of making me feel quite young again. Perhaps, I am simply a bit overwhelmed by the parental homework that the universe in general began to pile on at the birth of each child. Those pop quizzes are, after all, at times brutal: injuries, bullies, online dangers…etc…etc…etc…. and the consequences of not adequately preparing for these quizzes and tests can be daunting. Recess! Recess! I need more recesses! …perhaps a study hall….. I need more time to study up on the best ways to instill responsibility, successfully cure whining (my sanity may very well depend upon this one), prepare them to be resilient in the face of utter disappointment…and so on and so forth….
I guess what I’m saying is if you don’t stop giving me homework assignments I’ll…I’ll… Ok, I will still sit down and do them and be an involved parent…. But please, at least, be kind in your grading, because life isn’t always that kind in its assessments and perhaps, when I do a good job, throw a sticker or a smiley face my way. Or don’t…that’s ok, too. I can get by on the spontaneous smiles of my Moon, my Sun, and my quirky Little Man.