Children

School Days Past and Present Struggles (Homework Then and Now)

Last week, we looked at a typical morning in the lives of my children versus a typical morning in my own childhood. This week, I would like to look at an afternoon at my house today versus a typical afternoon in my formative years. As a parent, I’m sure you will notice the stark contrasts between the times and the behaviors of the children in the scenarios. You may even find similarities between this house and yours, as well as my childhood and your own.

Me: I walked home, just as I walked to school. It didn’t matter what the weather was. Everyone in my neighborhood walked to and from school. School wasn’t far from where we lived and the walk not only gave us exercise and fresh air, but it also prepared us for the rigors of homework, reading, and studying that we readily embraced when we arrived home.

Children: Immediately upon being released from school, the children nervously look around for my car. Sometimes I park a little further from the school than normal, which means it takes longer for the Miracles of Christ to see their transport and refuge. On those days, their collective sigh of relief is longer and louder. On other days, they realize there is no such refuge and they are forced to march miles (it’s more like a little less than one mile) uphill in punishing, unforgiving elements (sunshine and a light breeze) barefoot, tired, and hungry.

On other days, they are forced to march miles uphill in punishing, unforgiving elements barefoot, tired, and hungry.

Me: Upon returning home, I remove my shoes, hang up my jacket and place my bag in the hall, out of the way of anyone who may come or go through said hall. Kiss my mother and say, “Hello.” Proceed to the kitchen for an apple or other such healthy and delicious snack. Return to the hall for my bag and go upstairs to my room.

Children: Doors open before I can even stop the car. I slam on the brakes to make sure I don’t roll over any cherubs who are inspired by the weekend’s screening of “Marvel”. I follow the cherubs into the house, carrying their bags that were somehow forgotten in the car. When I reach the top of the stairs, I see the door is wide open, prompting me to hear my father’s voice in my head. (“What am I, heating the city of Lynn?”). I enter the house, close the door, and nearly trip over discarded jackets and sweatshirts that mark the path from the door, through the porch, to the kitchen.

As I enter the house, I hear the snack drawer being opened and slammed shut. I call to the Miracles of Christ to collect their bags and pick up their jackets they “forgot”. My gentle, loving voice is drowned out by the stampeding footsteps hauling it upstairs. Doggie cowers under a chair thinking a herd of elephants is coming after her. Kitty books it to the basement thinking it’s Doggie running after her.

Me: I’m at my desk with books and notebooks out, ready to tackle the intellectually stimulating exercises before me. Off to my side is my snack on a plate with a napkin. I spent the morning tidying up my space and I would hate to clutter it with any garbage. It would have wasted my efforts in the morning and delayed my afternoon duties.

A child sitting at a desk. Books, pencils, glasses, a clock, and an apple are on the desk.
A typical afternoon for me after school. Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

Children: Pieces of torn granola bar and candy wrappers lead a trail upstairs, picking up where the jackets and sweatshirts leave off. The gate upstairs is wide open. Doggie, recovering from her trauma, sees the opening and gallops upstairs. I chase after her, hoping to catch her before she leaves some sort of surprise in my bedroom. I lead Doggie back downstairs into the yard and return upstairs where The Boy has something shoved in his mouth before I can ask what he’s eating and suggest something that won’t overload his delicate system with sugar that will amp him up far beyond bedtime. I remove work from his bag. He protests, saying he just finished school and needs a break before he is subjected to mental torture. (He has to add and then color the boxes based on the sum he added.) I go downstairs to let Doggie back in. The Oppressed is in the living room with The Gaggle watching a YouTube video of someone narrating someone else’s video. I wonder what I’m doing wrong with my life as the children explain to me the genius and high entertainment value of what is being offered. The Oppressed leaves the room under protest and complains about her arduous work that has been heaped upon her by uncaring, heartless teachers.

Meanwhile, The Boy is cursing my name as well as his evil teacher. He doesn’t want to color and refuses to fill the box, which is supposed to be red. He goes to every room of the house searching for that perfect shade of red that doesn’t exist in the box of crayons, pencils, and markers in his room. The crayon I find, marked “red” is the wrong one and I don’t know what I’m doing. In the middle of coloring, a sentence needing to be commuted by the governor, I ask about empty wrappers laying about the room. The Boy has no idea what I’m talking about and I need to be a kinder parent instead of one that enjoys forcing him to (wait for it) color in boxes.

The slave ship from "Ben Hur".
Homework at my house today

Me: Written exercises are done. Assignments are placed in proper books and notebooks. I go downstairs with my dish and napkin, discard garbage and napkin into the trash and place dish in dishwasher. Wash my hands and go back upstairs read and study.

Children: Homework is done. They never should have received so much, or any at all. One assignment is on a table. Another is on the dresser, of all places. Folder, provided specifically to keep assignments is in another room. No one can explain why. I take my place in the guard tower as the children place their work in the folder and put away the folder. The bags are placed by the door so they will be ready to go the next morning. The Oppressed is on the computer emailing Congress to ban homework assignments. The Boy is with her making sure his grievances concerning coloring are not forgotten.

Me: In my room reading and studying until called for dinner.

Children: Screen Time. Can’t be bothered to come to the kitchen to eat. They’re not hungry and have better things to do.

Check my podcast for exciting stories and episodes at https://anchor.fm/greg-gorman0

Categories: Children, The Homework Wars

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