Homework Help Me!


This afternoon I sat with my preschooler, helping with her homework. I handed her crayons so she could color in (or, rather, around) some bubble letters and guided her hand over the path the bumble bee took home. It was very relaxing and enjoyable—the way I imagined helping with homework would be when I pictured myself with kids.
What I did NOT picture was the AMOUNT of homework my kids would have when they got older. I swear, my 4th grader lugs home a workbook the size of the dictionary daily, and I dread it.Not ONLY does she complain about EVERY line she has to read or problem she has to solve, but the questions! So many questions! And she wants me to tell her the answers . . . as if I HAVE THEM, which I DON’T!


Desperate Times

OK, if I actually sat down and looked at her work, I’m sure . . . I mean, I hope? . . . I would know the answers. But when I’m making dinner and next-day lunches, cleaning, and trying to keep my younger daughter from ingesting HER homework, I don’t always have TIME to sit and look! So, in the instant when she asks for help, I become the person I most dread; I become My Mother: “Weren’t you paying attention in class?” “I did my homework when I went to school. This is YOUR homework,” and “If I help you, you’ll never learn it on your own,” are all statements that have come out of my mouth. And they ALL made me INSANE when MY mother would say them to me! Annnnddd, as I remember her saying those things to me, I also remember what I would contemplate saying back to her, but held back because I wanted to LIVE. So I KNOW that every time I say these things to my daughter, she probably hates me. And I hate when she hates me!

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Meanwhile, I realize this isn’t going to get better, it’ll get WORSE! Because while I truly am (mostly) sure I could help her now (if I tried), at some point, that won’t be the case! Back in the day, I remember thinking, “I’ll never use fractions again after I graduate from high school.” And ya know what? I was RIGHT! I barely knew how to use them then, and I sure as heck don’t use them now! How in the world will I keep up my façade of “Mom knows everything”? Also, have you looked at the new Common Core Math? It may as well be in Latin. Geesh! Is Latin something she’s going to study? I’ll be no help there, either!

When All Else Fails?

So, here’s my plan: I’m gonna lie. I’m pretty sure that’s what my mom did, so the lying apple doesn’t fall far from the lying tree. When my daughters ask me for homework help as they get older, I’m going to be busy. Always. For the rest of their school-age lives—even when I’m not. The moment they start asking me about fractions will be the moment I text my sister to call me with an “emergency,” or when I must urgently do the laundry, or when the cat suddenly needs me. I’m gonna have a long list of go-to reasons for why I can’t help, so that I NEVER have to admit I don’t know something. Solid plan, right? I’ll just do that and get them a tutor! That doesn’t make me a complete failure . . . does it?

In all seriousness, I’ll probably research homework apps and programs to help them (and me). I’ve already got the 4th grader using Hooked on Phonics, and it’s helped her focus more than she was—not to mention it’s taken some pressure off me while I juggle the 500 other things I HAVE to do after the girls get home. Eventually, I might really get them that tutor. I have reason to suspect they’ll be more open to listening to an outsider than to me anyway. At least they might hate them less for making them do their own work. That will work out perfectly as they can reserve all their hate for me during their teen years.

No dictionary-sized workbooks necessary to learn that. This much, I do know.


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