So it’s back. Homework.
I mean, I knew it would come back around, but I just wasn’t ready. I feel that’s a going theme with school so far this year. “I’m not ready.” (And yet, I’m not even the one in school.)
On the first afternoon the boys both brought home homework, my husband was working his 24-hour shift so I got to tackle the dual-help on my own. This is how things in the fire life work, of course. I am used to handling the not-quite-emergent emergencies on my own.
The boys tossed their backpacks on the bar where we eat breakfast and snacks, do homework, and solve the world’s problems at 11:30pm long after the boys are tucked away and off in dreamland. I unpacked lunchboxes and pulled out the work to complete. I doled out snacks and grabbed something to munch along with my iced coffee.
Within minutes, someone was in tears.
It wasn’t even me.
Our school is pretty good about not sending home too much work. (So far. Please Lord, forever.) But sometimes it’s you second week of school and you had football practice last night and football practice tonight and you spent the weekend with your Nina and stayed up too late and you actually just want to go play with your friends, riding bikes around your precious little slice of neighborhood, but homework. And it sucks. I get it. It simply sucks. But your mommy doesn’t let you say “sucks,” and even if you do, your little brother tells on you. So it double sucks. But you’re a perfectionist. So you sit there, too frustrated and tired to calmly pull your multiplication facts, the ones you know just fine, out of your head and commit them to paper with your pencil that needs sharpened but the pencil sharpener is a JERK and won’t sharpen the pencil without pulling out the cheap not-lead and WHY DON’T ERASERS ERASE instead of just turning your paper purple or blue or green or ripping a hole into the spot where the answer goes.
Or, that’s how I assume it goes from watching the little implosion from my oldest son yesterday. Yesterday it was him. Today or tomorrow or someday soon it will be the other brother. This back and forth will continue, sometimes the bad homework days falling on the same day.
And I’ll be there to remind them to take deep breaths. To refill water glasses. To check over their work and suggest tips or tricks to remember those ones that aren’t sticking in their minds. I’ll remind the other to offer peace and quiet while the one struggling works. I’ll be here, with them, standing in the thick of it. Because this is what I do.
And maybe someday if I’m not here right at 3:00 in the afternoon, they’ll remember the afternoons we spent working at the kitchen counter. Maybe they’ll know to get themselves a snack, some water, and to get right to work so they can have more time to play with their friends—whatever that looks like when they have cars and can go off and do whatever they please.
For now, it’s just us, me with my iced coffee, them with their eyes on the still warm day outside. We’ll get through this together.