The snark is strong with my firstborn.
As is a deep-seated hatred of homework. But let’s be real — nobody likes homework, do they? Aside from the occasional fun assignment, anyway. (I thoroughly enjoyed any and all creative writing assignments, and even some term papers when I got to choose the topic. But writing’s always been my thing.) Still, she’s in first grade now, and has had daily homework since pre-K. (Which is a blog rant for another day.) Plus speech practice, because she’s still in speech. Too much homework too often to endure head-to-head battles over it, in other words.
It’s not just homework, either. Whereas most kids her age love to be read to, she stopped loving story time early on — somewhere around 4 months, I’d say. Every once in a blue moon she’ll bring me a book, but usually she’d rather watch YouTube. I’ve gone through the stages of grief on that one and finally, quietly, resigned the battle. Perhaps my son will be a book lover, but my daughter isn’t — I’ll just have to live with that.
(I sometimes read Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Lorax and The Poky Little Puppy all by myself. I still like them, darn it.)
Every day, we do this: I pick her up at school and ask about her day. She tells me about recess. Sometimes PE. We arrive home from school, where I review her conduct grade plus any notes from her teacher while she eats the lunch she didn’t eat at lunch. (Um…okay.) I also review her notes from speech, and sign everything that needs signing. I put it all back in the backpack except her homework, which I put in a little pile.
“Okay,” I tell her. “Let’s get your homework out of the way.”
Commence yelling, screaming, pleading, bargaining, and general bitching.
“C’mon — it’s not much. Let’s knock it out so you can play the rest of the day,” I say gently.
We proceed to bicker back and forth for 20 minutes. Over 5 minutes of homework. These sessions usually end with me saying something stupid like “YOU WILL SIT HERE AND DO THIS HOMEWORK AND YOU ARE NOT BUDGING FROM THAT CHAIR UNTIL IT IS DONE.”
“But what if I have to pee? What if the house catches fire? What if I don’t finish before bedtime?” says my little lawyer-to-be.
Every. damned. day.
Five minutes of homework.
At this rate, I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to get her to do her homework in high school.
It doesn’t help that her speech practice is so…boring. We’ve been working on TS sounds since last year. Same exercises, same words — we’re both over it. They’ve introduced a daily calendar of practice suggestions this year, to try to shake things up a bit, but it’s still saying words with TS in them several times. Fruits fruits fruits fruits. Bats bats bats bats. Kites kites kites kites. Yawn yawn yawn yawn.
The other day, the practice suggestion was to pick three words and say each in a phrase 10 times apiece. We’d done this exercise for a few days running, actually; while the sheet differentiates the location of the target sound (at the beginning, middle, or end of the word), we just have the one list of about 12 words because, well, there aren’t many words that start with TS, are there? Anya, understandably, was giving me the full foot-dragging treatment: moans and groans and sloppy pronunciation, punctuated with plenty of outbursts along the lines of “This is stupid! I don’t want to do this!”
And, really, how excited can you get about saying “flying kites” ten times, for the third day in a row?
Then inspiration struck. Rather than “cooked carrots,” which was the phrase I was going to suggest next, I went with “I hate carrots.”
She does. With a passion. Her eyes lit up.
“I hate carroTS!” she shouted, with relish. “I hate carroTS! I hate carroTS! I HATE CARROTS!” Every TS — indeed, every syllable — perfectly, crisply enunciated. I had to stop her after 10 iterations; she was prepared to keep going.
“I have no pants,” I prompted.
“I have no panTS! I have no panTS! I have NO PANTS! I! Have! No! PAAAAANTS!” she giggled.
I felt the key to end our homework battles settling into my palm. That night, at bedtime, I selected some of our sillier books. Dragons Love Tacos is a favorite. The Pigeon Needs a Bath is another. (We battle over bath time now, too.) That night, she thoroughly enjoyed our story time. And read the books back to me — her idea, not mine.
I’d forgotten that kids thrive on goofiness. Keep it silly, stupid.