a Monday night horror story: the 4 stages of homework
this is not pretty, y’all. those who are faint of heart, still deciding whether to have children or rearing precious little newborns that sleep like 18 hours a day, y’all just avert your eyes. there’s nothing good in here for you. there are, however, some new fun cat memes out there you should try instead. proceed at your own risk. all i’m sayin’.
so on her 4th day of Kindergarten, Miss Girl arrived home with (finally), the much-hyped agenda. this is the $10 yearly planner, where each day, her teacher will let us know her behavior color code for the day (blue=awesome!, green=aight, yellow=meh, red=straighten-the-f-up!) any notes and any homework. last week’s homework was basically “put 5 things you like in this bag for show and share on friday.” um. we can so do this.
and then i flipped to page 14, today’s calendar page. on the left, the teacher had written the date. i assume my daughter was just supposed to copy what was written. ha. this is a girl who can’t just write “happy birthday!” in a card. she dictates a Tolstoy-esque greeting that i have to help her spell. instead of just “August 10, 2015,” she’d (in her own writing language) written “Good morning! Today is Monday, August 10, 2015.” (can i just go ahead and call that over-achieving?)
let’s be clear, though: she does sound out all the words and write what she hears. she is getting really good at that and has had “sight words” for the past year. so her homework assignment on the next page should have been a piece of cake: “write each sight word 5 times each.” there were 5 sight words: can, girl, boy, read, a. she has written these like a thousand times each over the past year. so after dinner, i said let’s turn off the iPad and do this, thinking it would be a quick thing. y’all thought Real Housewives brought the drama? those bitches got nothin’ on a 5 year old with homework.
after 20 minutes of straight-up bawling about having to do it (her, not me), i poured a glass of wine (duh) and started texting other parents about whether their kids had done it. basically, maybe a little push-back, but it was done. i had tried everything i could think of. was my little perfectionist worried about doing it wrong? did she need help? did she want to trace my letters to get started? i generally have no clue what i’m doing as a mom, but seemed like this kind of covered the bases. she deflected every attempt with disdain. she seemed busy coming up with her own plan. then she started scratching and complaining about certain flare ups. i’m beginning to be convinced her eczema is at least 40% physiological and it starts bothering her more when she is upset. this little minx had spent 20 minutes figuring out a distraction. so fine. let’s go have a bath.
after the quickest bath anyone has ever had in their entire life, and a lot of discussion over whether we were going straight to bed or doing homework, Miss Girl came downstairs to get her potions on and try again. at that point, her hands hurt. not my skin, Mommy, the BOOOONES! wow. who ever had growth spurts in their hands?? there was a lot of crying. some more Rx rubbing and then she just put her head down. Mommy, now i’m just too sad to do it. true. it had been a really dramatic half hour. i was sad, too. but really??
i tried some hand rubs. some hugs. some suggestions about alternative ways to go about this whole thing. was she freaked out about having to write on lined paper? why, of all the 3,000 school supplies they told us to buy, didn’t they tell us to buy lined paper and pencils for homework?? sure, girl. let’s do this with markers on white paper like you usually write prolifically! i talked to her about the fact that homework is just practice and it’s okay if it’s not perfect — it’s just a time to try out things you’re learning and get better at them. no dice. complete melt down.
and then she walked away. by that time, i had a huge conversation going on Facebook about the whole situation. i got distracted for a second and next thing i knew, she was curled up on the sofa and totally passed out. AT 8:30! easily 30 minutes before she has been going down in the now what we consider to be earlier bedtime routine. score!
i can’t really get too much flack for not returning the very first homework assignment, right? i think Miss Girl learned a lesson (or that she can totally play us with absolutely no consequence. sigh.) i learned the lesson that she is to be instructed to do homework with her friends in aftercare. no exceptions!
and at the end of it all, i am a little psyched/scared by the whole thing. she has never had a real “assignment” before. she is used to doing her thing — writing, drawing, creating without parameters. she is so naturally smart and creative, and she completely excels at all that. i kind of think the pressure of doing things she can do, but in the way someone else wants her to do (very prescriptively) made her feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. again, there was the worry about doing it “right,” which she’s never really had before. it feels very, very familiar and similar to how i operate. and it is amazing to see that showing up at this early age.
most of the other moms on Facebook assured me that this too will pass. it was kind of horrific for an hour or so, there. but in the end, i feel like i got some insight into how my little girl thinks, feels and processes the world. way more valuable than 1 measley homework assignment for us both, for sure. besides. when she’s an Oscar-winning actress, will she really need to know how to write can, girl, boy, read and a?