I graduated from college, with honors, back in 2002. I got the honors by doing homework. Lots, and lots, and lots of homework. I did all the homework I was ever assigned, which my fellow classmates regarded as being somewhat mental. And as I walked across the stage to shake hands with the dean and receive my diploma, the long yellow tassel rubbing my neck raw and thumping around my waist proclaiming my rabid dedication to homework, I confess that I had one thought dominating my brainwaves: Woo hoo! No more damned homework!! EVER!!!!
Well…not exactly so.
I just got done helping Danger Mouse with her homework. First, I carefully penned her name across the top of it, then handed her the pencil and said, cheerfully: “Now, YOU write your name!”
Hmm. Well, it looks…sort of like writing. Sort of. A little bit wild, a little bit crazy, but you can make out the general form of letters. Especially if you happen to know what word it’s supposed to be.
We then moved on to the actual meat of the homework: find the top item in the stack and circle it, then the bottom item in the stack and put an ‘X’ through it.
Anxiously, not wanting to pimp her gig by pointing or continually asking, ‘What’s on top? What’s on top?’ I watched her survey the stacks. The pencil quivered a moment, then zoomed: circle, X, circle, X, circle, X, circle X! “Done!” she shouted proudly. Then she held up a tiny hand and, with utmost seriousness, imparted the following information: “But mommy, now we need to turn it over.”
“Yes. Because, well, the fact is, mommy, a lot of times…there stuff on the back, too!”
Hey! Guess what? There was stuff on the back! Find the kid in the striped shirt, then circle the kid in front and put an X through the kid behind said kid in the striped shirt.
In spite of the trickiness of the authors, who made one line face one way and the next another, Danger Mouse managed to correctly circle and X the kids.
And that, friends, was the homework for this morning. Tonight, I get to hassle Eldest about her homework, which is to write an essay regarding her best friend. Then I get to listen to her read it aloud, offer corrective criticism, point out misspelled words and interesting grammar and so forth. I also get to help Danger Mouse write her name a few times on lined paper (oh goody, more ‘mystery letters’) and perhaps do another sheet or two of circling things on top, bottom, around, between, and among other things.
Done with homework? Did I really, honestly and truly think I was done with homework?
Not only am I not done with homework, I’m not going to be done with homework for at least twelve more years. At least.
But you know what? I don’t really mind. Homework is a kind of connection with my kids. Off they go to school, learning and growing without my direct input. Sitting with them to do homework, listening to Eldest’s essays or supervising Danger Mouse circling and X’ing puts me back into their learning lives. And in the chaos of our Den, it gives me time that is utterly individual with them.
Besides. This homework is enjoyable. Not like my old homework. “Discuss implementing multiprotocol communications without the use of a router.”
Hmm. Couldn’t I just, you know, circle the router in front of the hub, and put an ‘X’ through the one behind it?
Charles M. Schulz
19 hours ago