Last week in the newsletter, I mentioned that all of our kids had come home for the weekend – Ron with college homework in tow. While he was taking a break, I read him an article I wrote back when he was in the tenth grade. Read, it, multiply it by four, and you’ll understand why I’m able to write stuff like Waking Up from the Homework Nightmare and Focus Pocus!
“Did you wash jeans? My Algebra assignments were in my pocket.”
Sure enough, crumpled up in the trash was a freshly laundered yellow sticky note, with penciled assignments too faded to read. So he pored through the Algebra II text, hoping for clues. No luck. My suggestions to call a friend were rebuffed, but finally, he gave in.
He asked if I had Ryan’s number, then went leafing through the phonebook to find it. He needed her dad’s name, which I supplied, but she wasn’t home. So he went through three more absentee friends. He even called his youth pastor for another friend’s number. Nothing. An hour had passed in vain. “Change subjects. Do something else.” His Physical Science assignment was on a piece of paper in his Geometry book, which he couldn’t find. I had seen it in the car, and sure enough, it was there, soaked through, lying in a puddle of water that had leaked from another brother’s water bottle. The assignment still wasn’t to be found.
An hour and a half are now lost. “Go clean your room. You can call your friends later tonight.” So he goes upstairs, only to be distracted by an errant yellow jacket. He comes back down, insisting he shouldn’t be upstairs cleaning. After I warn him that my sting is more lethal than that of any bee, he comes back to get a flyswatter, but wastes more minutes describing the insect to me.
After much banging about, the insect is dead. It’s not a yellow jacket, but a large hornet. He proudly shows the creature to me, then threatens his brothers with it. After talking to the bird (the one who can burp), he heads back upstairs to work. His room, to his credit, gets done.
But he doesn’t mention he has any homework besides the mystery assignments. Since I don’t know he has more to do, he somehow figures he doesn’t have to complete it until Sunday.
So, Sunday afternoon rolls around. I have a meeting at 2:30, so after church we go out to eat, then the rest of the family waits for me. Of course, the homework is left at home. After I remind him, and then insist, he calls his friends to get his assignments. His friends are still gone. (I’ll bet their homework was finished.)
At home, he finally makes contact with one friend, who gives him the Algebra homework. He also discovers that at some point he has lost his Geometry sheet, which is makeup for work he should have completed last week, and work he could have done on Saturday.
So I pore through his bookbag, and discover Latin papers wadded up in the History notebook, which is also full of Geometry notes. I’m overwhelmed by the disorganization. I discover a sheet that lists Tuesday as the due date for his Geometry notebook check, although he insists his teacher says it is due Thursday. I also go through all the drawers in his room. While he finishes his Algebra, I sort all his papers into subjects. I haven’t helped him all year, so I feel like I can help him in this without being an enabler.
It is now 11:30 pm on Sunday night. His Algebra is finished, almost. He has lost …..Oh, my gosh. I couldn’t have timed this better. As I am typing the above paragraph, he walks in. “Hey mom, you know that Geometry worksheet?” He doesn’t mention that it’s the one I just spent two hours looking for. “The reason I couldn’t find it was that it wasn’t a worksheet. It was a problem in the book. Can you come help me with it?”
So what do you think? Should I boil him in oil or feed him to the sharks?
PS If this story sounds WAY too familiar – sort of like a nightmare – then you need to read Waking Up from the Homework Nightmare. It’s our story of how the madness ended – and we woke up!