Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Homework Hell

I can't remember if I've talked about this before, but we have major issues with The Girl and homework. As in, she hates to do it and we have to make her. I know this probably doesn't sound unfamiliar to a lot of you, but trust me when I say our problem is a lot worse than most. A lot worse.

Let me give you a basic break down. The short version, if you will.

  • This started in kindergarten. She'd bring her homework home and then offer it to the dog and/or cat.
  • In first grade she told me she didn't have homework (and why would she in 1st grade?) and threw an entire years worth of homework out the bus window - without getting caught.
  • In second grade she hid half her homework in her binder and only completed portions of it.
  • In third grade she brought me all of her homework but would sit at the table until midnight and not complete any of it. She'd just turn stubborn and refuse.
  • In fourth grade she got really creative and told her teacher it was against our religion to do homework. And was convincing enough that he believed her.
  • In fifth grade we found her homework hidden under the couch, under her mattress, in between the counter and the refrigerator. I'd tell her, "TG, go get your homework right now and I'll pretend like I didn't see where you hid it" and she'd offer a long suffering sigh and move the plant away from the wall and there would be this massive pile of homework behind it.

I think you might think I'm joking about this, but I'm not. I've tried everything to get this child to do her homework. I bribed her, I punished her, I grounded her, I spanked her, I yelled at her, I offered her candy and Disneyland and weekend trips to the beach. I sat with her at the table until midnight waiting for her to get it done. I took away choir and gave her the school play and took the t.v. and the computer and her stereo and birthday parties and visits to my mothers house. I've done it all. I really don't think there's anything you could suggest that I haven't done.

Last year we worked on a sliding scale. If she didn't do her homework Monday she was grounded Tuesday. If she didn't do it Tuesday she was grounded Wednesday and her stereo got taken away. If she didn't do it Wednesday she got her stereo taken for the entire weekend (as opposed to just Wednesday) and if she didn't do her work on Thursday she was grounded for the entire weekend. Then we started all over again.

This year we cut out the sliding scale and went hardcore. She didn't bring me a clean progress report on Monday? She was grounded until she did. So if she doesn't do her homework two weeks in a row, or she misses an assignment in class? She's grounded for two weeks. She gets weekly progress reports and she's grounded from everything until she brings us a clean one. What does "grounded from everything" mean? Music, t.v., computer, Wii, toys, going outside to play with the dogs, going to her friends houses, going to my mothers, basically she's grounded to her room. She's allowed to sit at the table to do homework and to eat meals. That's it.

Now, it seemed in the beginning that this was working. The first week she didn't bring me a clean progress report she cried in her room for two days and brought me a clean report the following Monday. But once again, we're back to her hiding her homework and lying about it. She brought me her progress report today (they didn't have school yesterday for a teacher in-service day) and she'd missed an assignment. She tried to tell me it was because they had a sub last week and the sub told her not to turn it in. I said, "Ok, let me just go ahead and call your teacher to double check that's the case then" (sadly, I have her teacher on speed dial) and she said, "Oh, uh. Well. Maybe you shouldn't do that." Jeez, ya think?

I don't know why she persists in thinking I'm stupid, but I've worked closely with all her teachers since kindergarten to make sure we stay on top of this. It's not like I'm new to this, k?

The big problem is that the girl is uber intelligent. I mean UBER intelligent. It's obvious she's intelligent. She talked at 3 months old. No joke, she actually said a 2 syllable word at 3 months old. She's just lazy. But her teachers can SEE she's smart, so they let her homework slide because she does well on tests and has a lot of potential. No matter that we're not doing her any favors by letting her slide on this. I mean, really, how is she going to make it in the real world if she doesn't have a sense of responsibility?

Now through all this, my saving grace has been Little Man. That child loves school and homework like it's nobody's business. Every day he comes home from school, sits down at the table without being asked and does his work. When we do Best/Worst at night, 95% of the time his "worst" is that he doesn't have anymore math homework or if it's a weekend, that he doesn't have school the next day.

I'm telling you, that child is a breath of fresh air in homework hell. Or..well, he was a breath of fresh air in homework hell. For some reason, Little Man has decided to follow in his sister's footsteps and stopped doing his homework as well.

I really don't know why. It started last year with him not turning his homework in. I'd check his homework every night and it would all be completed and ready to turn in. Then I'd get his weekly progress report and he'd be missing assignments. Assignments I know for a fact he did. When I asked him about it he just shrugged. So then I started watching him put the assignments in his backpack, thinking maybe he was leaving them at home. But nope, they still wouldn't get turned in. So then I thought maybe there was a bully on the bus or the playground stealing them. Why else would the child do the work and not turn it in? But nope, I had The Girl keep an extra close watch and talked to the bus driver and recess monitors and no one was bothering him. To this day I still have no idea what happened to those assignments. None at all. They just...disappeared.

So far this year we've had more problems with Little Man than we have with The Girl. Or maybe we haven't had more problems, but I think I'm taking it harder because he's always been so good about it in the past. Tonight he sat at the table until 10:30 working on his homework. Or not working, as the case may be. He actually sat there and either whined or full out cried because he was tired and thirsty and blah blah blah. For all the time he spent procrastinating, he could have done a full week worth of homework.

I'm telling y'all, I'm living in Homework Hell. I just can't take anymore. It was bad enough when it was one, but now that they're both acting crazy and not doing their stuff? I'm going stark raving mad.

MM and I have been talking about telling the kids Santa and the Easter Bunny don't really exist. I'm pretty sure The Girl knows about Santa (she told me last year she thinks maybe Santa isn't really a fat man in the North Pole, but really a "secret santa" type thing, where maybe people like your mom or grandparents give you presents (this is another story entirely..but stick with me for a minute, I have a point). We (MM and I) realize she's getting pretty old for the whole Santa business, but like with the Tooth Fairy, I'm not quite ready to give up their youth yet. OTOH, we don't want her getting made fun of at school for being the only person who still believes in Santa, so it's probably pretty close to being time.

So tonight MM and I lecture the kids - again - about their homework and MM tells them they have to sit at the table until their homework is finished, then he goes to bed (nice of him, isn't it?). He calls me on my cell phone from the bedroom and says, "I'm a really bad parent" and I said, "Ok, roll with it. What's up?"

He said, "I really just want to be an asshole and come tell the kids, you don't want to do your homework? That's fine, because SANTA DOESN'T MOTHER EFFING EXIST AND I'M IN CHARGE OF YOUR PRESENTS!!!!!" And then, "And I KILLED THE EASTER BUNNY, TOO!!!"

That's good parenting right there. If I do say so myself.

Gotta love MM.


Manda said...

I had a similar issue with my daughter when she was in elementary school, and I had tried everything just like you (time outs, spanking, grounding, bribes). Finally I had worked into a grounding sliding scale not all that different from yours (I mean different, but same basic concept). It worked a while, then it didn't. All of a sudden one day when she lied about homework I spanked her (and at this point it had been forever since I had done that) and it worked like a charm. Now if I had kept spanking, it would have stopped working too....I think the point here was that the punishment suprised her. The grounding scale became a system she could understand/work/try to beat. From that day forward I made clear that SOMEthing would happen, but always suprised her with what. It took a while for it to 100% work, but I noticed a major improvement right away. Just my two cents

nath said...

Oh wow, you poor woman... No wonders you're going insane with the homework ^_^; and the two of them? enough to jump off the bridge...

and LOL at MM :P I hope you'll figure it out soon :P

Lori said...

We had issues with Steve each year, too, but as he's grown up, we've been fortunate that he's managed to deal with them (with a little help from our kitchen timer).

Would having her (and him) stay after school in a program, or the equivalent of 'study hall' (not detention), where they for the most part do their homework before they even get home, work? I don't even know if your schools offer anything like that.

I feel for ya, hon. Sorry I can't do more :(

JenB said...

I don't have kids, but I was a kid at one time, and I put my parents through something similar.

I was always in honors classes and I hated it. From 4th-7th grade I did everything in my power to get out of honors so I could feel "normal". I was tired of being a nerd.

In 7th grade I actively tried to fail my honors classes by putting wrong answers on tests and throwing away my homework.

Do you think she's trying to do something similar?

KMont said...

Oh Holly. I don't know what to say. I post about my kid, yet she's only three so I know I'm just hitting the tip of the iceberg so far. I really feel for you. I cannot imagine NOT doing homework and I cannot believe the teachers aren't doing more about this either. I feel for ya, hon, I really do.

Holly said...

I actually used to try to surprise her, but gave up on it after awhile. That might be worthing going back to, though. She just doesn't seem like she cares. It's very frustrating.

They go to an ASP where they work on their homework, but it's not a dedicated ASP (meaning they also do other activites), so it might. I'm hoping that now I'm home I can work more closely with them myself after school, and also with their teachers.

I don't think that's her problem. We had her in advanced reading 2 years ago, but haven't put her in any other advanced classes because she struggles so much to complete her work.

I thought at first she might be bored, which is why we tried the advanced classes, but I really just think she's lazy. She doesn't WANT to do her homework, so she doesn't. If it's something she's interested in, though, watch out! She'll knock you down in her excitement to get it done.

Nath and Kmont,
It's really hard as a parent to see your child struggle, but it's so much worse, IMO, to know your child doesn't need to struggle but is doing so anyway. Especially when it comes to something as important as this.

They'll be the death of me yet. I know it.

Tracy said...

As much as my oldest hates doing her homework at least she actually does it and when she does, hands it in. I don't know what I would do in your sitch. I don't envy you, that's for sure. At this point the youngest enjoys doing her homework and I hope it stays that way!

Absolutely hilarious that MM called you from the bedroom! omg lmao!
We've been debating the whole "no santa clause" speech as well with my oldest and I just don't know how to break the news! lol

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