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The Power of the Homework Hour

Want free admission to a three-ring circus? Then, come on by our home around 4:15-5:30 P.M. The show is open Monday through Friday and full of fun for the whole family! My tongue is so far into my cheek right now I think my cheek is touching my ear.

Most days the homework hour is the worst hour of our day. It’s sometimes worse than pulling teeth. I’d liken it to having toenails yanked off using a medieval device of some sort. It’s rough around here. I’m being blatantly honest about this. It doesn’t help that we opt to place said hour smack dab after the return from school as we often have extracurricular activities to contend with on weeknights. Placing the homework hour after those activities is not feasible due to a lowered firing of neurons, focus on bathtimes, requested bedtime stories, and much needed tuck-ins for all parties involved.

The homework hour is often interrupted. The kids come home from school ravenous. Didn’t they eat the lunch I packed? I check. As I discover half a ham sandwich that’s eight hours ripe, I discover that no, they did not. Their excuse was they didn’t have enough time to eat the lunch or snack in question at school, but I know they had ample time. Their time management was more focused on social time vs. lunch time. Upon arrival home from school, they want snacks and lots of them, but by the time we fight the road ragers in the carpool line and park in our garage we’re bordering on 1.5 hours until the dinner hour (also a willy nilly time of day). They ask for this and that and this again and that one more time. Like a broken record I repeatedly reply, “No.”

It doesn’t matter. They’re insistent. What they’re doing is inducing a long snack delivery in order to avoid the hour they are sometimes aggravated by just as much as I am. Then, they ask if they can play with friends at which point we may only be one-third of the way through what’s written on their agendas. Again, the answer is: “No.”

It’s fall. Stage left - enter in: Time change...Ahhh....we haven’t missed you one iota. It’s now darker an hour earlier than it was last month so when the toenails have all been pulled it’s just too dark to ride one’s bike safely, play basketball in the street as the city commuters return to their homes in our burbs, run amuck in the woods, etc. Sorry, kids.

There are days that my angel children follow direction simply, open up their notebooks, and git ‘er done, but when those days have seemingly fallen into the Bermuda Triangle you can find me: Attempting to keep the interrupting 2-year-old at bay and combating his repeated requests for raisins, popsicles and such (he also thinks homework hour is snack time and snack time only); raising my voice a little to encourage my kids to stay on task and realizing that my behavior also gets us nowhere; trying to assist them with directions as needed but juggling dinner prep and that lil guy’s requests again...I can often be found scratching my head at directions. It’s sad; they’re in elementary school, and my confusion over their homework’s directions should not be a thing - but I am not too ashamed to tell you that it can be.

The avoidance of homework that my kids can ooze and my attempts to salvage the homework hour into something productive can be downright nutty. Our home can be full of freakdom much like a circus tent or a grueling trip to Walmart. That homework hour has a power over all of us, but we all know it must be faced. The common core math must be completed. The reading response questions must be replied to. The spelling words must be practiced nightly. The test must be studied for. It’s all about practice and progress, and we do our best to greet it with smiles and combat it with brainfood and wits.