If employment’s the first shift and housework’s the second, then, for the parent, homework is the third shift. Corralling youngest to do her after school chores is work, particularly writing which involves getting her on a computer and helping to coach her in recalling the sentence she was writing as she laboriously works her way across the keyboard at ten to fifteen words per minute. She’s a perfectionist and has to be continually monitored or she gives up, whether quietly or in a rage.
Thankfully, eldest is more self-sufficient. She’s learning this year how to plan ahead and assess what needs to be finished when if some assignments are due at the end of the week while others have an earlier due date. Nevertheless, eldest can still be an emotional challenge when it comes to homework. The first setback can evoke so strong emotional response that she snarks her annoyance out as she works through the problem or gives up in an exasperated rage. Thus, she also requires careful management to keep on task.
As with any child, neither of them really likes to do this work and I’m forced to assume the role of gatekeeper and nag to keep them focused. Add to this the school’s requirement that I sign off, daily, on their respective agendas and often have to respond to multiple requests for input on this or form-filling on that. Book orders! Consent for field trips! Review schoolwork folders! All of these are necessary, but all of them eat into my time in the hours from school dismissal to their bedtime. And I wonder why I’m often exhausted and out of sorts, ready to just veg out, when 9:15 rolls around. That’s because we’ve just come off the third shift!