Dedicated to a very dear friend for whom I promised to (try) and be funny again!
Although I often forget to be grateful for the roof over my head and the food on my plate, as someone who’s been out of school for more than a decade, I never forget to appreciate that I no longer have homework!
As a Type A personality, I had virtually all straight A’s throughout my school career. I diligently studied for tests, poured all my effort into assignments and yes, completed every shred of homework – no excuses. So what happens when a Type A and a Type B collide over Grade 2 homework…
According to Wikipedia, Type A’s are “ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management…they are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.” While Type B’s “generally live at a lower stress level and typically work steadily, enjoying achievement but not becoming stressed when they do not achieve. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing…they may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts.”
When Friday afternoons roll around and it’s time to pick up my boys from school my first question is always, “do you have any homework this weekend?” Of course, the 4 year old’s response (thankfully!) is always “No!” but the 7 year old kick-starts my anxiety with a simple shrug of his shoulders and an “I dunno.” And so, it begins. I start wondering, when are we going to do all his homework? How much does he have? Is it going to take me hours and hours??? Why can’t he be more motivated?! Doesn’t he realize that Grade 2 homework is the first step to the REST OF HIS LIFE??!!!!
One of the greatest challenges of being a parent is raising a child and trusting them to become independent and have the courage to stand up for themselves and go after their dreams…whatever they may be. I’ll digress here: throughout my formative years I wanted to be many things: astronaut, painter, even an army general! But as time goes on, reality (and social pressure) sets in …my dreams of becoming a fashion designer transformed into becoming a chemical engineer (no idea what they do but a particular dignitary was visiting my school and I couldn’t very well disgrace my VERY traditional Armenian parents by choosing such an “outlandish” career)! Incidentally, I did neither.
In today’s world, our choices are virtually unlimited and children have the gift of potentially making a real living following their dreams and passions. But today’s world is also more competitive than ever…which makes being a mom, harder still!
Like most 7 year old boys, mine is not quite a Type A. So when it comes time to ask him to centre in on his homework, I already know I’m swimming upstream – see, unfortunately I do not have a cool laser gun that pops out of my arm, nor can I shoot fireballs out of my eyes and defeat evil takeovers of the universe! I’m seriously lacking in the super power department for that’s what’s required to capture my 7 year old’s attention!
So it’s Sunday night, an hour to bedtime and after studying for two spelling tests and doing some required reading, we turned to his last piece of homework: writing a poem. WHAT?! Poetry? In Grade 2???!! Completely bewildered I turned to a friend who suggested making it fun by choosing a song together and “simply” replacing the words. Easy enough, right? NO.
Honestly, there I was, my Type A self, pouring everything I had into this “poetry assignment” and there he was, my little Type B, cycling song after song just so he could play around with my iPhone! I’m trying to come up with words for his poem while he’s more interested in the cover art!!! My nerves were getting shot! I begged! I pleaded and here’s what I got:Stuart was a little mouse, He lived in a great big house, His brother’s name was George, Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, adventure
WHAT?! I kept explaining that he had to rhyme with “George” but he just stood there staring at me, a blank expression on his face. Perhaps it was the crazed look in my eyes, my nails digging into our dining room table, the beads of sweat appearing across my forehead, my hair starting to frizz or simply the fact that I had gone from shouting to an almost possessed person whisper…or perhaps neither of these things that finally lead us to this…
Me: *exasperated, worst parent ever as have now resorted to begging and pleading* Please. For the love of God and all that is holy, please, just choose one song and stick with it. It’ll make things easier. You can’t keep bouncing all over the place. We’ve been at this for over 45 minutes! You’ve just really got to focus and it’s almost bedtime, tomorrow’s a school day…
Him: *shrugs shoulders* Maybe I should take a break. Can I go play outside?
Me: You played earlier. Look, we have to finish. You have to do your homework. You must be prepared. This is all about your future! Trust me. You have to pay attention, get good grades and then you will be able to open doors to all kinds of possibilities.
Him: *sprightly* What doors? Where?
Me: *!!!!!!!!!!!!!! trying to keep it together…* The. Doors. To. Your. Future. – not actual doors, you know, just a metaphor for possible paths you could take…look, it’s even bath night, we don’t have much time left…
Him: YAY! Bath night! Can I play in the bath?
It took every ounce of me to not take his exercise sheet and pencil and try and “forge” a poem! I mean EVERY-SINGLE-OUNCE. True, that would have been the absolute worst form of parenting but I’ll admit, I WAS DYING TO DO IT!!
Realizing that I was now on the verge of going against everything I stood for, I walked away and gave him his space. And you know what, he did it. I was his crutch and when I removed my (psychotic) self from the situation, he demonstrated that he could be a self-actualizing, independent thinker.
I guess more than one of us completed our homework this weekend…