It’s no secret that homework has been a thorn in my side since, forever. As parents, we have struggled for many years when it comes to Addison and homework. I’ve written about my strife when he was in third grade and fourth grade but I have saved you from all of my woes, dear reader, because if I wrote about how worn down I am by the homework situation you would just get bored and tell me to stop writing about it and see a therapist.
This year we are in middle school. The homework situation is just as tortuous but now there are teen hormones and moody silence as part of this witches brew. Yes, silence. Addison has never been super communicative, but now he clams up even more whenever we ask him anything.
How was your day?
Anything exciting happen today?
Who did you eat lunch with?
No one at all?
Do you have homework?
Are you sure?
This is pretty much how every conversation on the way home from school goes. I try to mix it up with new questions or exciting variations on the questions already asked but I have become the annoying parent.
Our school system has this thing called the Student/Parent Portal. No, it is not a teleportation device to allow you to enter an alternate dimension in which your grumpy teen child will actually act like a decent human being. It is a website in which your child can log on and see which assignments they are missing, what grade they got on this that or the other, and can see their current grades in real time.
For parents, it is a way in which to drive yourself insane.
For those of us who were new to the portal at the beginning of the school year, we quickly became obsessed with checking our child’s grades and homework status on a daily basis. For a child who has a very difficult time turning assignments in on time, this portal basically became a portal to homework hell for both of us.
I would log in and see about five thousand missing or late assignments. When I would question him about said assignments his reaction was one of shock and confusion. As if, he had never heard of the concept of worksheets, math problems, or assignments before. I would often find myself asking him if he had ever attended school in all of his years because the way he responded to being asked to find missing assignments indicated that he had never set foot in an institution of learning. Ever.
One of the biggest frustrations was Addison’s response to my desperate pleas and rants to please please please don’t ruin your future by creating bad study habits. Because my mind equates missed assignment in sixth grade to working at McDs until you’re seventy.
Over the school year, I learned not to look at the portal quite so often and have taught him to check it very often. We are trying to get him to take ownership of the portal but the concept of do-it-yourself is still a work in progress. There has been much gnashing of teeth, tears, groundings, threats, and rants. Thankfully, things aren’t as bleak now that the school year is winding down as they were at the beginning when the reality of middle school was punching us in the throat on a regular basis.
Middle school homework is still a beat down. Not quite as unrelenting, but still a beat down.
All of the rants were one-sided. They consisted of me telling him why he needed to do his homework and actually turn it in. There have been lectures about high school and college homework and how success years to come starts now. I’ve relayed stories of my own struggles in school and how we are trying to keep him from having to experience those hardships.
I’m pretty sure all of it fell on deaf ears because the most reaction I ever get is a shrug. Sometimes a nod. Often a big sigh. What I don’t get is any sort of verbal confirmation.
Enter my friend and her teenage daughter.
Last week my hero posted a text conversation she and her daughter were having regarding homework and late assignments. My reaction, in a word: elation.
I was howling with laughter and cheering to the computer, telling my friend to hold firm. Don’t give in. Be the mean mom!
For your reading pleasure, she allowed me to share with you this perfect mother-daugher exchange.
I am in love with this mom.
I wonder what it would be like to have a child who communicates with you. Is this it?
My latest impassioned plea to stay on top of homework was all about how it’s our job, as parents, to push him to do better. We’re not here to let him skate by or turn a blind eye to grades and homework. I told him how we can’t depend on the school to teach him how to be disciplined about doing his homework. The teachers have enough on their plates without having to hover over kids and constantly check up on them to make sure every one of their students is doing what they are supposed to. That’s common sense, not their job. And since middle schoolers are lacking in common sense, it is my job to stay on top of him until the common sense quadrant of his brain wakes up. I told him that when he gets to college he won’t have me and his dad asking him if he did his assignments, checking a portal to see his grades, telling him to clean out his binder because no wonder you can’t find a worksheet in that rats den you call a notebook, and his professors could give a flip if he turns in work because they have no problem handing out Ds and Fs to students who don’t give a crap.
He did reward me with one comment: Can’t I just figure out how to do my work when I get to high school and college?
Jesus take the wheel.