Not my own homework hell, but my son’s. He’s nine. He spends an hour to an hour and a half doing homework every night. It’s a burden for all of us. I know that there is something important about homework–learning responsibility and all that. And my son doesn’t really mind doing his homework. He’s good at the work; he can do most of it himself. What he’s not good at–what none of us in this family are good at is organization. He loses things; he writes things down incorrectly. And then he gets in trouble at school. It’s hard for me to hover over him and around him, constantly asking if he has papers to show me, if he’s sure he’s done everything. In ten years, I don’t think this will matter, or will it? Does this shape how he will approach his college work? How much should I really care? I’m pretty lax about it really. I don’t obsess and worry that if his rock project isn’t perfect–it isn’t–that he won’t get into Harvard. I want him to enjoy learning–even homework. I guess I feel that if I pick over every little thing, he won’t enjoy it. I’m sure the teachers think I’m being a bit cavalier about the whole thing. So I ask in a lighthearted way if he’s done everything, if there isn’t something I need to see. I try my best to make him do his work before he does something fun–but I don’t always stick to this. Sometimes something comes up and I don’t deny him his fun just because he has one more page of math to do.
Next year, I’ll be adding another kid to the homework grind and it will be even harder to juggle. It’s things like this that make me honestly think about staying at home. I sometimes feel that if I didn’t have so much going on in my own life, I could help my kids focus on theirs. The thing is, I won’t know if I made the right decision for many years to come. It feels right so far to be doing what I’m doing, but who knows . . .