School’s back in session this week and next, which means one thing. Well, two things.
Your house is now quiet for about six hours a day. Six blissful, solitary hours. A reward for summer vacation being 10 weeks long, which ironically is anything but a vacation. The endless demands for snacks while wrangling your brood at the community pool is one of the least relaxing activities a person can engage in.
Unfortunately, these six precious hours of quiet time come at a price. A hefty price. Homework. H-O-M-E-W-O-R-K. Work they do at home — your home, to be more specific. So take off your parent hat and put on your teacher hat. Things are about to get real.
Each night you get to assist your kid (or kids) with whatever their teacher has assigned. Usually it’s math and reading but regardless of what it is, you are in charge of not only making sure it gets done but also making sure they understand it.
It’s irrelevant that you’ve been out of school for nearly 20 years. The teachers do not care that math was your worst subject or that Common Core wasn’t around when you were aimlessly trudging through middle school. They don’t care that getting your kids to focus after sitting still all day requires a herculean effort. All they care is that the homework is turned in with a fair amount of correct answers the next day.
Now, since your kid has sat in class all day, it seems logical that they’d have a reasonable understanding of how to accomplish the assigned material. Maybe they’ve absorbed some of what was being taught. Wrong. By the time they reach your home their brains have turned to mush. They forget basic things like how to turn off a light or close the front door. So forget about remembering what their teacher said.
This is where you come in. You’ll probably need to read through the assignment a few times yourself, Google certain words you don’t understand, curse your decision to become a parent in the first place and have a cathartic cry. After that you’ll (mostly) be ready to explain the directions to your less-than-enthused child who now sees you as the enemy, standing between them and their Minecraft time.
This all sounds so dismal, I know, but there is one important difference now that you’re an adult. A beacon of light and hope. You can imbibe an adult beverage guilt-free while you tackle the complex Pythagorean theorem, or attempt to explain prepositions to your child whose attention span is the length of a half-eaten Twizzler. The sweet nectar of the gods can flow freely while you’re wearing your teacher hat.
Even if by some miracle you do remember the material like the back of your hand, trying to communicate it to your child is a job unto itself. A test of your memory, intellect, and patience. That’s why I like to take a sip of Pinot Noir each time my child utters those three little words: “I don’t understand.” When I feel myself approaching code red levels of insanity, I take a drink from my cup of calm and carry on in molding this beloved young mind.
Thankfully, red wine is believed to be heart-healthy. It may lower cholesterol, and it might even help keep your mind young, thanks to the compound resveratrol. So while my blood pressure is raised as I try to parse the Periodic Table or ancient Greek myths, I am actually doing my body some good. In moderation, of course. I like to think of it an equalizer as I approach my child’s bedtime.
Each night is an epic race to see what will expire first, the daylight or your will. So, go ahead. Put your teacher hat on, pour that glass of red, and show the nightly homework routine who’s boss. Good night, and good luck.