Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making Homework Work...

Parenting is hard! Can I get an AMEN to that?

There is this one particular issue that keeps rearing it's ugly head in my house (or more precisely, in my car) everyday after picking Sweetpea up from school.

Sweetpea is turning in 8 in just about a month.  For the most part, she doesn't have official chores.  Granted, there are things we expect from her and her little brother at home but there are no official chore charts or anything. I am starting to wonder about her level of responsibility; I know full well what she is capable of.  The issue is, she isn't doing what I know she is capable of.

Here's the issue: more times than I count this year, she has left school without something she needed to bring home. I can handle leaving the lunch box or jacket at school, but you can't come home without your homework! The first few times it happened, I succumbed to her teary eyed pleading and turned around to go back to school and get whichever book or workbook she had forgotten.

About the third time this happened, I told her, "no more! If you forget your homework again, there will be consequences and you will just have to accept them.  NO HOMEWORK PASSES! You will have to tell your teacher you forgot your book and couldn't complete the assignment, taking whatever grade she gives you."

{Sweetpea is TOP in her class for AR- accelerated reading program- and she frequently earns prizes and homework passes.  Another blog post for another day, but REALLY, why do 7 year-olds need homework passes???!!! Homework is practice for skills they are learning in class! Foundational skills like multiplication tables and other things they will continue to build on throughout their educations!}

Anyway, last week, she didn't forget her book at school, she brought it home and did all but one of her spelling/vocabulary exercises.  She set it to the side during dinner because we were both stumped (and by the way, I have a hard and fast rule: I NEVER give her the answers! I try to help her think about it another way or give her hints, but I don't give answers.  I don't think that is helping a child with homework- it's doing it for them!) She never went back to it or put it in her book bag, so she left for school the next morning without it and it was counted "late."  
Now, I don't really know what that means in second grade.  My best guess is, her teacher takes off a few points, but still assigns a grade for the assignment once it's turned in.

In her class, there is a designated time when students go to a board or calendar and write down that night's homework in their own student planners (or "agendas" as her teacher calls them). 
For whatever reason, yesterday she just didn't do it.  When she got in the car, I immediately asked if she had homework because she also has gymnastics on Monday nights.  It's a tight fit to get home at 4:15pm, do homework, change clothes and re-fix hair and get back out the door by 4:45!
She immediately let me know her homework wasn't written in her agenda, but I told her we were not going back to the school.

I tried to help her figure out what pages might be her assigned ones for that night.  Math was pretty easy because she spotted a new subject they'd talked about in class, plus it was the next page after her last math assignment.  What she didn't know was she was supposed to do 2 pages of math :-)

Spelling was a different story.  We couldn't figure out what page to do.  I couldn't figure out what to do about the situation; be tough and let her suffer the consequences or try and help in some way? Eventually, I called a classmates' Mom to ask her what the assignment was.  

I'm not sure I made the right call.  Sweetpea was upset tonight when she realized she'd not done page 2 of the math assignment and gotten a "late" comment in the top of the page.
She also realized her classmate gave the wrong spelling page number, but her teacher allowed her to do that one during morning work. 

She seems plenty upset by the consequences of all this, but not to ready to accept that it's her responsibility.  I can't help but wonder if I'm doing something wrong? Or as Jennifer asked today, are we doing our children a disservice?  

So what do you think?
How do I let Sweetpea learn this lesson when she seems to not be learning it so far?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Then and Now...

Lately, I've been having these flashbacks.  They're kind of strange really, because they're being sparked mostly by other people.
You see, my daughter is about to turn 8 (in and of itself, totally unbelievable!) which means I've been a  Mom for that long. It means I haven't worked in corporate America for that long.  It means I've had my own direct selling business for that long.
Isn't it amazing how time flies?
Anyway, I think Sweetpea's impending birthday is making me think back on who I was before I was her Mother...

  • my house was mostly clean at any given moment (but then, I was mostly only in it to sleep)
  • I thought I'd be the perfect parent with a perfect child
  • I just KNEW I could be a very successful working Mom
  • I was pretty organized
  • I was respected by my co-workers and customers
AND, I was IN CHARGE! I was the boss, in pretty much every way I could be. At work, I was in charge of at least 3 bank tellers, and sometimes as many as 6.  I was in charge of certain routines and in charge of training others to do them and in charge of making sure they did them correctly.  
I was in charge of our household finances; I balanced the checkbook, transferred money between accounts, wrote out the checks for bills every month.  I made a good income, and in fact, my salary was just slightly lower than the hubby's, meaning I brought in almost half of our household income. 
I was in charge of my marriage too (or so I thought); in most cases, I could figure out how to get things to go my way.  I had a plan for everything.

Then I got pregnant with Sweetpea and the sky fell! 

My perfect pregnancy? Didn't happen! 
You know the one where I would feel great and go for walks and stay in good shape the entire time; not gain too much weight, and bounce back to work when she was 8 weeks old?
Yeah, right! 
I felt like puking from week 6 though most of the 40 weeks...was so tired I could barely make it through work and the traffic home, much less a work-out, gained about 60 pounds, and I think I cried for the first three days straight after she and I came home from the hospital (we were there 5 days)!

Perfect birth-plan didn't work out so well either ('nother story for another day/ post)!

Right about the time I hit the halfway point of my pregnancy, I knew - it hit me- my life was NEVER, EVER, EVER going to be the same.  I was about to change in a big way.

I had never in a million years wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom! Not because I didn't love my baby- on the contrary! I completely thought it was ok to continue pursuing a career and put her in daycare for 11 hours a day (and that may be ok for some people, but I quickly got a personal reality check).

Almost like someone flipping a switch, I knew I couldn't do it.  I wouldn't be able to hand over this precious baby growing inside me to someone else to take care of all day, every day, for days on end. I started to think of all the things I might miss during those 11 hours she was at daycare.  I started to hear stories from friends about babies rolling over or muttering first words and Mom or Dad missing it. 

Jump forward a few months and after many heated discussions with the Hubby about how we couldn't afford it, he finally agreed that I would be happier (and so would the baby) if we were both at home.

Still, I couldn't quite picture it.

I mean, I liked my job.  I was good it.  I got recognition for a job well done (most of the time).  Most of my friends worked for the same bank.
Would I be able to handle this identity crisis?

This week I ran into an old colleague from the bank, plus I uncovered an old planner with my Service Manager agendas and lists and "important" conference call notes.  And I kind of miss that girl; the one I used to be. She was ambitious, determined, and destined to do great things!

Back then, I felt important.  I was in charge; people looked up to me and counted on me, and somehow, I always pulled it off (whatever "it" was).  I had a great salary for a twenty-something with less than 5 years of banking experience.  When I wanted to spend some of that salary on something for myself- I did- no need to ask anyone else.  After all, I'd earned it right?

These days, some of these days, I'd tell you there is a stark contrast between then and now.
Most days, my house looks like a war-zone.
I am NOT a perfect Wife or Mother and I MOST DEFINITELY do not have perfect children.
Most days, I feel pretty DISorganized and mostly DISrespected. Definitely unappreciated (there are no recognition rewards for a job well done here).
I am not really so much "in charge". 

And most nights, I climb into bed thinking of all I DID NOT get done today.

Tonight, I am thinking of how far I've come from that girl I was 8 years ago.

I've learned there's no such thing as perfect.
I've learned to let things go (judging by the dust in my house, maybe I've gotten too good at this one).
I've learned I can't be successful at being everything to everybody.
I've learned that organization isn't everything and that Mom was right: respect does have to be earned.
I've learned that to get appreciation, you have to give a lot more of it than you want back.

I might not feel in charge anymore, but I know I am important.

Sweatpea said before dinner tonight, "Mom, I enjoy spending time with you because I don't see you all day!" And I asked Bubba before bed, "Who's my favorite little boy in the whole world?" He proceeded to guess every male family member he could think of knowing fully MY answer would be "YOU!"

And they make it worth it.  I think I can stand feeling unimportant for a few more years. 
Because THEY are ambitious and determined and destined to do great things; it's my job to guide them.