Whose Homework Is This Anyway?
Quick. Close your eyes and think of a 5 year old in Kindergarten. What do you see? Maybe a 'See Spot Run' book, or some fantastic tissue paper art projects. I even see nap mats and playground time.
Now open your eyes. What is that you actually see in front of you? A 5 year old holding a list of homework assignments for the week? Hold on a minute. I wasn't prepared for this.
Don't get me wrong. I have aspirations. BIG aspirations. You know the type - wherein my kid is hailed as the smartest in the class because she just naturally picks things up and is just generally brilliant. Of course she is just generally brilliant (she is mine after all, what did you expect me to say?) but as it turns out - they have to do work in Kindergarten. Like counting by 2s and 10s and writing numbers up to 110. And how am I supposed to help her remember the difference between sevenTEEN and sevenTY? Don't these people know that I dropped out of statistics in college and took "Topics In Contemporary Mathematics" instead? I am the last person who should be trying to explain these concepts to my kid. But it seems that if she is going to exhibit some brilliance down the line, I am going to have to pitch in daily and do my fair share.
I consider myself to be a good mom. Actually, a really good mom. All responsible and on top of things and such. But when the homework came home the first week, it was billed as 'optional'. So we did some of it together to help her out at home but we never turned it in (optional, remember?). But then I discovered that every other mom in class had actually done it all with their kids and turned it in. Those kids all got green stars. My kid did not. Pro tip: When all of the other kids do their homework and yours does not, it no longer has the air of being 'optional'. Big fat mommy fail.
Having learned my lesson - last week I sat on the floor with her, helping her to make a poster to encourage kids to "vote" for their favorite author. She choose Laura Numeroff, author of "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" and "If You Give A Cat A Cupcake" fame. We had stencils, and stickers, and markers and as we sat on the floor I thought - this is it. I get to go through school from start to finish all over again. And frankly, I didn't love it all that much the first time. Oh joy.
Yes, I want the best for my daughter, yes I want her to be brilliant and have every opportunity in the world but it turns out that it's actually a lot of work for both of us. Gone are the afternoon trips to the park, the lazy baths and trips to the "hot pool" in the evenings. Already in Kindergarten our evenings are filled with homework, reading, sight words, and then dinner time. Oh, and a quick bath if we're lucky (and if she fails the sniff test, which she usually does).
And while I'm not opposed to working hard, I think I was just unprepared for it. I wanted to hang on to the baby years a little longer. I didn't realize that what I perceived to be "our time" would come to such an abrupt halt. I'm adjusting, just a bit more slowly than the other moms. OK, a LOT more slowly.
But I refuse to let go entirely. This morning I did something nice - I took her out to breakfast. Not drive-through, but a bonafide sit-down breakfast which ended up making us late to school. We've never been late before - so when the receptionist handed my daughter a tardy slip she exclaimed "Mommy! We should do this more often - all they do is give you a slip of paper - it's SO EASY!" I didn't even bother trying to explain why we can't be late all of the time - I just let her enjoy it. Because the truth is that it was pretty easy, and it was nice to make the decision to have some relaxing time together - and I realized that our time together isn't gone - it has just shifted.
And that is something that I can learn to work with.