October 10, 2013

I’m perfectly fine with back to school. One month down, eight to go! It’s the back to homework that’s killing me. Even with Teen Spirit now being basically almost fully baked, I still feel overwhelmed and overwrought with the thought of facing worksheets, reading logs, and projects.

AP stands for Apoplectic Parent. For Teen Spirit, I'm involved only in the barest essentials -- quizzing him for a test, reading an essay here or there, and serving as audience to critique class presentations. But when I am involved, I end up nearly blowing a gasket. The deadline is when??? And you’ve known about his for how long?? Not sure which is worse – having to run out at 9:30 pm on a Sunday night to rustle up a Thomas Jefferson costume for AP American Government or to give him the car keys and hope for the best. I’m also confounded by the seemingly immutable law of nature requiring him to request assistance within the narrowest of time frames. Usually that occurs at the point in the evening where I’m deeply engaged in studying the back of my eyelids.

A D H Delight. When he was in elementary school, I made a colorful and enticing homework supply box, sat him down at the dining room table and set the timer. I’d return in 10 minutes, praying that I'd see a completed worksheet. I mostly saw him spinning a writing implement on the tip of his nose. After a few more rounds of increasingly impressive pencil tricks, I threw in the ADHD towel and walked him through assignments step-by-step. The Homework Sherpa mom never left his side, escorting him up and over the mountain of equations, chapter tests and special projects.

Die, die, di-orama! Speaking of special projects, I am so over snipping, gluing and stuffing a shoebox to within an inch of its life -- just to depict the first Thanksgiving, a topographic map of Equatorial Guinea, or a national monument. And when I say me, I mean … me. Not because I’m a rabid perfectionist that won’t let the kids do it themselves, even if imperfectly. No. Because of all the ADHD coursing through our household. Without Mom cracking the whip, Teen Spirit would still be in 5th grade, gluing sand to the bottom of that 4-foot plastic storage container to recreate an authentic marine habitat.

Writing on the Wall. Now La Principessa is also very distractable but she loves doing homework. I suspect it’s because that allows her to bring me to a beet-faced, teary-eyed, spluttering mess way faster than any other technique in her arsenal. This is the first year that she must copy down her homework assignments into an agenda. Now when she’s composing her Christmas or birthday list, her handwriting is mysteriously pristine. On the average school day, not so much. So the agenda comes home every night with a little puzzle just for me. Since I never studied Mandarin Chinese, I haven’t yet been able to read what the heck she’s written in the agenda. It’s rather thrilling – almost like being an NSA codebreaker. But I’ve got eight months to work on that. And I'm getting used to having no control over anything, other than occasionally my own bowels.

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