The Special Hell That Is Homework

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Fall is finally here! Pumpkin Spice everything is everywhere, the days are getting shorter, the nights are cool, and the school year is officially in full swing.

Unfortunately for us, we don’t live in New Jersey where teachers send home notes telling parents that there won’t be any homework this year.

My girls’ teachers certainly aren’t encouraging us to spend evenings as a family eating together and playing games – yeah no – not here in the middle of America.

Here in the middle of America we like to stick to tradition and tradition dictates hours of grueling homework. Here we don’t allow for that kind of New Age nonsense that they pull on the coast. Our teachers are the tough-as-nails-Pioneer-stock-put-you-nose-to-the-grindstone-and-get-over-it kind of teachers.

So thanks to tradition, all of the excitement we had over new backpacks and fresh number 2 pencils is gone. Now all of the excitement has turned into dreaded homework angst.

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of teeth gnashing, doors slamming, children shouting, tears streaming (mine), and mother’s everywhere beating their heads on the table in agony in an attempt to help their children with homework.

An example of a typical night:

3:15: Pick happy, dancing, smiling, children up from school to a rousing chorus of “Yay! Mom’s here! We LOVE you mommy!!”

3:20: Ask questions about day, discussing highly complex interpersonal dynamics of fifth grade girl relationships. Learn that boys are gross and pick their noses from second grader. Smile at thought that child thinks boys will someday not pick their nose.

3:30: Muster up courage to ask, “What do you have for homework?” and proceed to pull out books, papers, and pencils from backpacks while children sit on couch slack-jawed watching Gravity Falls while shoveling large squares of graham crackers into mouths

3:35: Fight children who’ve suddenly developed seemingly superhuman strength for the remote control to turn off television

3:45: Position child in front of homework. Begin torturous task of explaining challenging foreign concepts such as: showing your work, estimating and rounding up to the next place, learning to add and subtract without using fingers

4:00: Take deep breaths as child’s face crumples and dissolves into tears because “that’s NOT the way the teacher told her to do it”

4:05: Check pulse, become concerned about possible impending stroke but diligently press on as child now throws hands and math worksheets into the air in abject defeat

4:07: Grit teeth and pick up worksheets while listening to rousing chorus of “I HATE you mommy!” and the sound of slamming bedroom doors

4:10: Relocate to kitchen, rummage through refrigerator before finally locating week old open bottle of cheap Chardonnay

4:13: Drink wine straight from bottle leaning against kitchen counter

4:15: Sigh with relief as golden liquid reduces blood pressure and halts annoying eye twitch

4:20: Regroup with child promising treats and television as bribe to finish homework

4:45 Eventually coax correct answers out of her by allowing child to count on MY fingers (an overlooked loophole)

4:46: Fall back into chair, breathless and exhausted – stare incredulously at child who returns to television program as though the last 75 minutes never happened

4:47: Allow for one-minute pause before child begins asking when supper will be ready

I don’t know about you but I can only say that I hope the families in New Jersey really appreciate the sacrifice the rest of us are making. And for everyone else out there looking down the line at many more years of homework hell, I raise my glass to you in solidarity.  

About the Author

Beverly Slavik Rodriguez is a single mom of two sassy little girls who test her sanity daily. She is currently researching the relationship between motherhood and Stockholm Syndrome. You can read more about her and the shenanigans she gets up to at her fledgling blog:


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