A friend of my mine going by the name of Partly Sunny, recently blogged about the entire "homework" issue. It is a great blog and I highly recommend reading it. It just brought up so many feelings about my own childhood and how much I hated school and homework. It's been on my mind since, so I thought I would write about my first homework memory. I do not remember all of the details, what I do remember is somewhat stuttered and to be honest I have banished memories of elementary school into the nether regions of my brain. Unfortunately they are flying back to the forefront as my kids journey through thier own school experience. Thank God they LOVE school. But this homework thing - yuk - it is again raising its ugly head.
I had fuzzy ponytails with acrylic yarn bows. My too small socks kept creeping down into my shoes. As always I was wearing some sort of unfortunate plaid, and I am sure my knees were ashy. Obviously I wasn't quite as pulled together as the other kids, but ot was an important day; a big deal of a project was due. I know it was a big deal because we had to stand in the front of the classroom and present to everyone. I must admit, I don't have any memories of doing the assignment; no name or the topic comes to mind, but I do remember it was a carefully written short story (very short story) in my black and white marble notebook. My chest was full of excitement. I remember feeling proud as I practiced reading aloud. I was ready to do my thing and astound everyone with my wit and creativity. By time I was 8 I knew I was a writer.
I was really into my preparations, when this girl, one of the "bad" girls, specifically the leader of the "bad" girls asked to see my story. I reluctantly showed it her and she swiftly snatched it from me. I watched in horror as she copied my story word for word. I said nothing. I was one of those shy scared types (well. let's say I started out that way) and was not only afraid the girl was going to beat me down, I was scared to tell the teacher.
I remember feeling paralyzed and terrified as the teacher started calling each presenter. I think bad girl went first. Of course the teacher was impressed with my work and gave her a big hand. Unfortunately I was called next and walked to the head of the classroom like I was walking to the electric chair. I stood at the front of the class with me legs tightly pressed together. I was an occasional pant pee-er and was trying my best to avoid a scared puppy fiasco. I looked down at the story which in minutes went from being my pride to my shame. A symbol of my weakness. If I had just told bad girl "No", or found the MIA teacher, I would still feel good about my accomplishment.
I read the story, painfully repeating every single work that had just been recited. Immediately I was in trouble. There was no investigation, no questioning, just a humiliating reprimand for the two of us as we stood in the front of class. Bad girl could have cared less, she was frequently in trouble. I was never in trouble so I was mortified and extremely pained, especially when I slipped the note to my parents into my bookbag.
So here I am many years later, and my hatred of homework is rising again. Every day my two boys come home with massive amounts of paper the teacher doesn't want cluttering her classroom. Somewhere in all that copied crap are the homework assignments. Everyday we go through the same after school routine, backpacks and shoes tossed on the living room carpet, the fridge door opening and closing a thousand times, and so TV time that ends with me making my "homework time" announcement. Everyday my announcement is met with whining and pleading. At some point, usually after a threat of taking TV away altogether...they get to working. They finish, I check it, point out errors, ask the "is that all the homework you have" question and we move on.
This week my 8 year old came home with his first "E" and a note from his teacher saying that he did not turn in about half of his homework for the week. The "E" was for a literacy test - an open book literacy test at that. As for the homework, it turns out my perfect 8 year old had been lying about the amount of homework and was not writing the assignments down on his homework calendar. As soon as the "E" emerged from the backpack the tears started. And they did not end until he was sent into his room to re-take the open book test. Did I mention the book was 4 pages long including front and back cover? I felt like crying too - from sheer exhaustion.
My son does not realize that I hate homework more than he does. I hate all the paper that accumulates in my living room. I hate that my 6 year olds does not want to throw anything out, so I have to go through this whole ridiculous ritual of hiding the trash. I hate having to worry about grades and performance. I hate feeling like I do not know how to balance wanting them to be the best they can be with wanting them to scholastically perfect. Mostly I hate the fact that I am already worried that they will hate school like I did and underperform. Homework has become a monster in our house that scares up every bit of anxiety I have about my children's education. I am trying very hard to follow the guidance of thier elementary school principal. "Lighten-up" she stated at the last PTA meeting. I am trying - but homework for me is just one big pile of YUK.