The Saint and the Homework Woes

Evan brings home schoolwork on all nights except for Friday, and as you know, we fight him everytime. It sends him into a downward spiral that leads to a meltdown. There is always an excuse: he’s hungry/ tired/ has a headache. There is always an excuse, and when we don’t allow him to get away with this, he throws the mother of all fits. Sometimes, the screaming can go on for hours. On the really bad nights, we have no choice but to send a note to his teacher, letting her know that he refused, that we fought with him for hours before finally giving up. What makes it so frustrating is that Evan can do all of it with ease. So a few nights ago, he made the excuse that he was hungry, even though I provided him with an after-school snack already. The protests went on long enough that I had to come up with something for dinner. Neither of us wanted to cook, so we opted to go to a local restaurant around the corner from our house. Well, actually we let Evan choose, and that was the result. Afterward, there was a movie John wanted to see, so we went to the video store. When all was said and done, we were home by 6:30. Plenty of time for Evan to do the homework, when in fact, I had allowed him to choose the restaurant as a bribe to get the homework finished when we got home. Despite the effort, he still refused. Somewhere around 9PM, we gave up and sent him to bed.

The next day, he brought home a note from his teacher:

“Evan said he could not do his homework last night because you made him go out to eat, and then to a video store. He said that by the time he got home, it was time for his bath and bedtime. Please sign this and return it.”

Seriously? So my response:

“Actually, I let Evan choose dinner as a bribe to try to get him to do his homework, after having argued with him about it for quite some time,  and he still refused. We were home by 6:30PM, with plenty of time for him to complete his assignments. In truth, we fought with him for hours on this, before we finally made him get ready for bed. He was not permitted to watch television or anything else afterwards because he refused to do his homework, thus bath and bed promptly followed our giving up. Evan lied to you.”

Yesterday, I was doing something completely random when the phone rang. John answered, and after a few, “Yes” and “MmmmHmmmm” respnses, he handed the phone to Evan. Evan said a few words and promptly got his backpack and sat down at the table. He got out his books and began working on his math, all while talking on the phone. I heard him say, “Okay, Bye”, and hang up. The whole time, the kid is doing his math homework. 15 minutes later, the phone rang again. I heard him tell the caller that he was finished with math, and had moved on to his reading assignment. Again he hangs up. 15 minutes after that, another call, and now he is on to his art project. And so it went, every 15 minutes until he was finished with his homework–all of it.

It was his teacher! During the time that normal families eat dinner, this woman took it upon herself to call periodically and check Evan’s progress. And I was amazed for several reasons.

First of all, why can he not do that for us??? There was no fighting, no excuses, no whining. He did exactly as she told him to do. I couldn’t help but think of a snake charmer. He just did it.

And what is wrong with us? Why can’t we get the same results?

And finally, Whoa! It is amazing enough that this woman allows Evan to stay after school where he can work on school work without the drama that comes with him doing it at home. I mean, I realize she is a teacher and thus signed up for this. But as soon as that bell rings at the end of the day, she is on her own time. She no longer has any obligations to Evan at that point. She takes it upon herself to allow him to stay at times, citing that she stays late anyway to do things like grade, work on lessons, etc., and Evan is no bother wihout other children present. But then she did this for us. The end result is that he completed the homework and we had a relatively peaceful night here. After he was finished, we went and had spaghetti at a local Italian joint, then went and ran a few errands. Upon returning home, it was time for bath and bed. Evan even used shampoo on his hair without prodding from us. He went to bed without a fuss. It was the most amazing thing…..EVER!

Maybe it was tacky of me, but I wanted a way to thank her for going the extra mile. It would be so easy to call it quits at the end of the day, to forget about Evan and work and go home to her family. And I couldn’t blame her for doing so. But to take an interest and go above and beyond to help him? Especially at this time when he is having such difficulty? The woman must be a saint. So Evan and I went out together to find somehing small to give as a proper “Thank you”. Evan actually picked it out, saying she collects these as I do. And it was the only semi-teacher theme we found, but it’s name is “Thank you for making a difference.” Was this horrible? Tacky? Will it make her feel awkward? I hope not. I included a card, as well. I am just so appreciative of her efforts with Evan when it would be so easy to chalk all of this up to his illness and dismiss it. And she is exactly what he needs right now: people who see his strengths and hone in on them, when it would be easier to focus on weaknesses. He needs people who believe in him enough to invest this sort of time.

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2 thoughts on “The Saint and the Homework Woes

  1. Tacky? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That was the most thoughtful, most kind way that both of you could have shown your appreciation, and I’m sure it got her choked up. I got an email the other day from a parent (totally unsolicited) that was essentially a thank you email for making her daughter think more. I read the email over like 50 times and then even printed it out. When people appreciate what we do, no matter our profession, it makes us feel like gold.

  2. I love those. . .it is beautiful. And i LOVE that his teacher did that!

    Why won’t he do it for you? because you are his mom. Same reason they behave for others but are brats for you.

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