Homework Histrionics

“You can learn many things from children…How much patience you have, for instance” Franklin P Jones once said …….remains true even today…..

If you ever type ‘Homework’ into Google Search, it will auto suggest ‘Homework Help’ as a top choice. A telling sign of the homework hour that all parents must be dealing with. Here’s how mine went today with my little girl…

Minute 1 – Page 1 of 2 Math Homework (My estimated time to completion ~5 mins)

Me: Firm head nodding with positive tone of voice “You are so smart, you will finish this in 5 mins”
Mini Me: Sitting up straight with a great sense of purpose “Mama, I am the smartest girl in my class”  
Me: “Of course you are baby, I know it” 
Mini Me: “Mama, can we buy that chocolate we saw on TV yesterday?”
Me: “We’ll see. First finish your homework”
Mini Me: “Mama, you said you would think about it yesterday”
Me: “Yes, I did. This is not the time to discuss this. Lets do our homework now.” 
Pencil falls down ……brief silence…Mini Me:Mama, I’m thirsty, may i have some water?”
Me: (Smiling in my head about the sudden politeness) “Yes, I’ll get it for you”
Mini Me: “Thanks Mama”

Minute 5 – Page 1 of 2 Math Homework

Returning after a few minutes with a bottle of water and a glass – Me: “Have you finished the first page? Whats happening? Why haven’t you done the next line?”

Mini Me: “Mama, will you drop me to school tomorrow?”
Me: Begin deep breathing techniques”Yes, I will. Now start doing your homework”
Mini Me: “Mama, today Ethan didn’t come to class”
Me: “Oh” (trying not to engage in conversation – mental note to ask later)
The eraser falls down, she attempts for a minute to pick it up with her toes, then to flick it upwards with a ruler, till its finally pushed out of reach; I get up & put it on the table    Mini Me: Leaning across the desk with her face resting on one hand “Mama, I think he is sick”
Me: “Hmmm, please now concentrate on your homework. And sit up straight please” 

Minute 10 – Page 1 of 2 Math Homework

Me: “Come’on, you can do it baby” 
Mini Me: “I’m very fast mama, teacher said I did very well today”
Me: “See, isn’t that what mama also says. If you apply your mind, you can do anything. Come’on lets see how quickly you can do this” Proud of my positive parenting

Pencil falls down and this time is slowly picked up after an agonizing 40 seconds. I swallow the “Pick it up” that was coming out of my mouth…..Brief silence….
Mini Me: “Mama, something is biting me”
Me: “What? Where?”
Mini Me: “On my legs, its scratching”
Me: After crawling under the study table “There is nothing there baby, i checked”
Mini Me: “Mama it is biting me, I’m telling you. See scratch here”
Me:  After scratching her ankle for a few seconds, “ok, now lets finish this”
Mini Me: “Mama see i think this is where it bit me – point to a microscopic mark on her skin”
Me:  Mental “Aaargh”, Dragging the chair and table a foot away “Ok, move over here. Now start”  
Mini Me:  “Mama, can i play downstairs after this?”
Me: “Yes of course, we are going to have lots of fun but only if you finish this”
After some silence, Mini Me: “Mama I’m tired. Can i sleep for a while” 
Me: In my head “Good God help me”….Out loud “No, you just slept for 2 hours…and if we spend all our time on homework you wont have time to play. Come’on, this should not even take you 10 minutes”
Mini Me: Slumped across the desk with her head on the book and doodling on the table “Mama why do i have to do homework and you don’t”
Me: (Oh good Lord! I think I’m going to bust a vein) “Because i already went to school and did my share of homework when I was your age”
Mini Me: “Mama then you can do mine so easily”
Me: Exaggerated stern look using all my facial muscles “Is mama going to be there when you do your exams?? And stop drawing on the table. Sit up straight”

Catch a sideways look into the mirror and realize that my expression is so not flattering…I console myself – Desperate times need desperate expressions..

Minute 15: Page 1 of 2 Math Homework

Me: “Now i am going to go to the other room to  do some work. By the time I come back, one page should be finished. After that we can play downstairs” Stern yet coaxing tone of voice while pretending to be relaxed. Hang around in another room for 5 mins pretending to be busy.

Mini Me: “Mama I’m hungry”
Me: “Have you finished ?” Huge saucer eyes as I look into the book and see nothing further done
Mini Me: “Mama I’m super fast”
Me: Trying to hang on to the last of my positive parenting skills “I’m very curious to see it”...and cannot resist “But I haven’t seen a thing so far”
Mini Me: Humming sounds suddenly and erupts “Let it go, let it go….” 
Me: Incredulous + angry expression “WHAT is happening here?? This is not the time to sing” 

Silence….more silence, some sudden scribbling and in 2 minutes after that

Mini Me: “I’m done” Jumps up and runs to me with the book.
Me: “What? How? Oh yes…. How will anyone read this handwriting?”  Hold face with one hand in mild distress. Unsure whether to offer criticism or congratulations

Mini Me: “Mama come lets go down to play” 
Me:  Succumbing “OK, but first we have to agree next time the handwriting will be better” Very serious but relieved expression
Mini Me: “OK”…. 
Me: In my head “how did she finish that so fast?….Anyway Thank you God!”

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