Today I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. The prompt, “What about school do you miss the least?” might have meant for us to discuss what we didn’t miss from our own school days. But what came to mind for me (in large block letters) was what I won’t miss when my kids are done with school in June.
Monday through Thursday from 4:00 to 5:00 are the worst four hours of the week. We stagger into the house tired and hungry from work and school. There is nothing more I want than to make a cup of tea for myself and a snack for the boys. I want to put my feet up and hear about their day. I want to listen while Owen gets outraged about the Cherokee being forced off their land. I want James to tell me about the reptile guy who came to the school today.
But there isn’t time. There is too much homework. They’ve been in school since 9:00 and they each have at least another hour of work ahead of them. For a while I tried sending them outside to run off some of their energy before they settle down. I worry that they don’t get enough time outdoors and it’s usually dark by the time homework is finished. Instead of being more focused and relaxed they would run back inside every fifteen minutes to see if their time was up. They just want the homework over with. They know that getting to play beforehand just puts off the inevitable. Homework stretches beyond the dinner hour if they play first. From their perspective, it makes bedtime come that much sooner.
So while they’re doing their homework, I’m usually emptying the dishwasher and trying to get dinner made. They ask me questions about homework, which I do my best to answer. Sometimes they get distracted and tell me about something that happened in school. I want to hear, but I want them to focus on their work so they’ll get it over with. I tell them to tell me while we’re eating dinner. They’ll bicker with each other; I’ll get irritable and tell them to get back to work. Dinner takes twice as long as it should to make because I spend so much time telling them to stay focused.
Of course they aren’t the only ones who are distracted. Most days we need to be somewhere right after dinner—Cub Scouts, soccer, baseball, rehearsal. So I’m keeping my eye on the clock while I’m juggling their questions and my other tasks. I hate the person I become when my kids do homework. She’s short tempered and mean. She doesn’t have time to listen to the things her kids need to tell her. My fondest wish for this summer is to replace the phrases “hurry up” and “stay focused” with “tell me more about that” and “slow down Pal, we’re in no hurry.”