When the Husband and I were mulling over whether to have a third child (which in itself was irrelevant as I was, unbeknownst to me, already up the duff) we talked about all the pros and cons of extending our family from two kids to three. Of all the things we talked about – the fact that we’d need a bigger car and eventually another bedroom for example – not once did one of us turn to the other and say ‘You know, it would mean three sets of homework’. If one of us had, we may well have run screaming for the hills (and then back again when we realised it was too late anyway…)
I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, I remember when my youngest started primary and we went to the welcome evening, where the school homework policy was introduced. I nodded along in agreement as the headmaster described the home learning assignments as an opportunity for parents to be involved in their kids’ school lives, and I also remember looking forward *hollow laugh* to the fun times I’d have with my precious firstborn, doing homework assignments together with just the right amount of maternal guidance, delivered in a non-helicopter fashion of course.
Yeah, RIGHT. Needless to say this is not how it works. In real life, the whole homework experience varies from manageable to meltdown, depending on the child, the topic, how far through the term (and therefore how knackered) they are, and various other factors that I haven’t figured out but for all I know could have something to do with the phases of the moon.
So in order to avoid the whole weekend being overshadowed by my chirpy suggestions to look at the homework page, followed by slightly less chirpy requests, followed by (possibly barked) orders to AT LEAST MAKE A START followed by everyone in a panic on Monday night and me imploding with the effort of not saying ‘I told you so’ through gritted teeth, I came up with a Plan. And it seemed like a good one, on the surface….
Yes, dear reader. I decided that I could in fact manage three kids doing their homework in one sitting, all together around the table. Oh how marvellous! The big ones could help the littlest, and they could all speak in Welsh to each other, and I would be on hand benevolently dishing out pencils and suggestions (again, totes non-helicopter).
I told the Husband. He raised his eyebrows.
‘Well, how difficult can it be?’ I demanded. ‘If their teachers can manage thirty of the critters from 9 till 3.30pm, surely I can manage three for an hour? And my own three to boot??’
It started well, to be honest. For about five and a half minutes, all was peaceful. Then someone stole someone’s pencil. Then the good rubber went missing. Why it was any better than the sixty three other rubbers we have on the house I don’t know, but there you go. Then the youngest got bored of his drawing of our house and decided to help the eldest by ‘writing’ on his pristine new homework book. In the meantime, my girl in the middle asked me if I had any ideas for her class rep election speech (part of her homework assignment) and then proceeded to yell at me when I suggested a couple of things because now I had suggested them, she couldn’t use them, because her homework had to be All Her Own Work and now I had used up her good ideas by saying them first and WAAAAAH. My eldest, who had the same homework, announced it was pointless because he didn’t want to stand as the class rep anyway, so he wasn’t going to bother doing it, then my youngest had a paddy because in Reception there are no such things as class reps and he wanted to be one, and tore up his drawing of a house because it wasn’t PROPER homework like his big brother and sister had. And then cried. While I’m desperately drawing the outline of another house for him to colour in (ok, I helicoptered a bit there) the eldest was leaning over the shoulder of the middlest and nicking her hard won ideas for his homework, for which he got himself a kick in the shins, which apparently is ok because the Famous Five kick each other under the table all the time, Mum, but *shocked face* no, OF COURSE I wouldn’t do it at school, because that kind of behaviour isn’t allowed there (go figure). And all this to the soundtrack of the Husband sniggering to himself in the next room, occasionally calling out words of ‘encouragement’ while regretfully turning down the requests for help because he was snowed under with work. Or the Grand Prix.
Meanwhile I’m trying out classroom management techniques gleaned from the primary schools I visit. Clapping my hands? Fail. Standing and waiting quietly till the noise has died down? Fail. Splitting up troublesome children? I’ve only got one table. Fail. Talk in a progressively quieter voice so they’d have to quieten down to listen to me? Fail. Use unrelentingly positive language with NO SWEARS? Fail, but irrelevant since none of them were listening to a flipping word that came out of my mouth. Threaten to phone the headmaster? YAY, that worked! Guiltily remember a pep talk at the welcome evening about how parents should absolutely not do such a thing. Oh. Fail, then. In fact, epic fail all round…
So. There you have it. My addiction to Educating the East End is officially cured, as is my secret daydreaming every time I see a Teach First advert. And if anyone has any suggestions for surviving the next nine months of weekly homeworks (short of ditching the Husband and marrying a primary school teacher) then please get in touch – you’ll find me hiding under the table with the gin!
I’ve linked up this post with Sam’s ‘The Truth About’ linky at And Then The Fun Began – head over there for me more posts that tell the truth and nothing but the truth about the joys of parenting!