Friday, September 25, 2009

Two Down - none to go

Headed back to school again last night for the second in the series of 2009 back to school nights. This one was for the elementary school. Disappointingly, we didn't get any pithy humorous insights into the mind of a fifth grader from the head of the elementary school like last week's middle school soiree. It's probably just easier to make fun of middle-schoolers since their behavior is so damn obviously nutalicious!

We did the standard fare of meeting with the teachers . They did their spiel about what they were going to cover this year. And I must publicly confess that to me, all of their prepared comments sound a lot like white noise at this stage of the game. Why? I calculated yesterday afternoon that I have been to a grand total of TWENTY-NINE back to school nights in my parenting career. Holy crap.

This is why I only listen to a small part of what the teachers are actually saying. I get to "we're going to focus on diving deep in to the travails of Lewis and Clarke" and then HMMMBZZZZZZHMMMMMMBZZZZ. If, while heading to my car on the way out of back-to-school night, I was taken hostage by some nefarious terrorists and my very life depended on answering the single question of "What is Henry going to be covering in language arts this year?", I would be discovered several days later in an alley behind the SF School with a bullet in between my eyes.

I would be unable to answer since I was trying to see what in god's green earth Henry already had jammed in to his desk as of week three of school. What kind of mother am I that my give-a-damn about exactly what he is going to be studying in the "critical" fifth grade year is easily eclipsed by wondering why the hell he has so many pieces of crumpled up paper, three broken pencils, two mashed dixie cups and a pile of pencil shavings in his desk? Moreover, why is his desk so full of miscellany and his desk mates seem to have nothing in their desks at all? Is this a sign of some mental illness or malady? Or, is he just a slob? Many questions....

But, speaking of questions... While I was half listening to what can only be described as the wha-wha-wha of Charlie Brown's teachers, what I was decidedly half-listening for was when the teacher genuinely paused and asked the parents for questions. This never happened. Not once. Not the regular teacher, not the language arts teacher, the music, the art or the PE teacher (although what would you ask the PE teacher anyway - - but that's beside the point). Not one to be deterred by the lack of an invitation, I raised my hand at the end of the regular teacher's patter/jabber and blurted out, "What is your philosophy on home work and will the kids be getting any during the school year??"

You see, here we are at week 3 of school and Henry has had exactly ONE night of real home work. This lack of homework is driving me crazy - - cause if it's one thing I am balls on certain of as a parent is that idle hands ARE the devil's plaything. And the second thing of which I am crystal clear on is that when 6th grade rolls around Henry's going to be hit blind-sided with with the two-by-four-called-homework if he doesn't get some real practice in this year.

I'm not all for make-work just for the fun of it. Or, maybe I am? No, really, what I'm for is about 30-40 minutes of real applicable work that means he has to sit his happy tush down at the table for that long and GET. IT. DONE. ALL. BY. HIS. LONESOME. Instead, he rambles around the house gritching about how he's not allowed to do anything until George the Younger gets his homework done and why does it take him so long and why do I have to wait to watch TV until he's all finished and why do I have NOTHING to do this whole time and why do I have to.... Get the picture??? It's making me bat-shit. To use an overused idiom: If I had a nickle for every time I say "because" to Henry in the afternoon I would be able to hire someone to say it for me while I calmly finished reading the paper.

It doesn't look like there will be a change in the homework situation. The teacher gave us some pablum about how we all have busy lives and they already work so hard during the day at school and he doesn't believe in make-work and his teaching style is about the creative discovery method. This translated to me as, "I, as the teacher, am too damn lazy or busy to plan this out and implement it for your child." Good news is that I got a little pat on the back from about half the other parents who wanted to know the same thing I did.

At least I am not alone in my frustration. Little comfort this will be at 4:00 this afternoon when the Henry-banter begins again. I thought about creating some make-work-home-work for him myself. I mean, if you want something done right do it yourself, right? 'Cept, I have a little problem Houston. I have no idea what it is they are going to study. Note to self - next year pay attention in back-to-school night.

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