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29/08/2011 / melgardener

We love* homework…do you?

I am standing on one side of a large island bench in my brand new gourmet kitchen. The sun is streaming in through the large, open windows and gently caressing the golden heads of my children who sit on the other side of the island. Their heads are bent in deep concentration. I can hear birds singing and the quiet caress of classical music in the background. All is quiet and serene.

I gaze at my children fondly, as I casually pull a tray of freshly-baked cookies from my chef’s oven and slide them daintily onto the awaiting plate. My children beam, parrot a perfect “thank you, Mummy” before taking one cookie each and returning to the task at hand – their homework.

Disclaimer: The above may possibly bear no actual resemblance to my real life whatsoever. But, it’s my happy place, dammit, so I’m going to keep it.

The reality of homework in our house is, unfortunately, the stark opposite of the above. Miniscule amounts of homework are completed between prolonged efforts at whinging and whining about why the homework has to be done in the first place. When the whinging and whining have no effect, my daughter switches to her tried-and-true method of prevarication and procrastination.

She has even been known to offer to clean her room as a way of delaying that moment inevitable when the homework must be started.

Homework is the working parent’s nemesis – seemingly planned to be as frustrating and time-consuming as possible. I have been known to whip out my editor’s red pen and send the homework sheet back with my own ‘mark’.

I’m not a big believer in homework, particularly when the questions are so badly worded that comprehension is nigh impossible or the problems set are completely incorrect. But, I am a big believer in the concept that the world is not a fair place and there will be plenty of things in this life that you don’t want to do but you suck it up because they have to be done.

My 8 year old, on the other hand, knows for sure that the world is unfair but strongly believes that all the things in life she doesn’t want to do can be avoided if you whinge, whine or procrastinate hard or long enough.

I’m sick and tired of being the bad guy in our house. I want to be able to whinge back to her “it’s not my fault you have to do homework!” but I know that will get me nowhere. So, we persevere…with me offering bribes that would make the Australian wool industry blush, damn-near doing some of it for her, cajoling and pleading until we make it to Friday morning.

My mantra: “find a happy place, find a happy place” is my only coping strategy so I cling to it as a baby clutches a dummy and dread next year when I’ll have not one, but two, at school.

Do you love or loathe homework? Do you think kids today get too much or too little?

* Not really in the slightest

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