A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Homework Blues or How I Found a New Appreciation for What I Put My Parents Through...

Parenting is unquestionably character building and character revealing. It's often embarrassing to realize that many of the things that you inflicted on your parents come back to haunt you in the shape of your children. Things like the selective hearing, procrastination, dwadling, general laziness...and...

Ah... the  joys of homework... from the other side of the cluttered desk...

I'm not one of those parents that think that there's too much homework in the Aussie state school system. Hardly. I was, afterall, brought up in the Singapore education system (from primary to secondary school) and was under the watchful eye of a school teacher for 10 years. Hence, I like to think I have some idea of what HOMEWORK might entail.

The real trouble, however, is in trying to get an eight year old to take a long term view on the importance of homework without resorting some form of "bribery" or "extortion".

Children think, not without some justification, that they've been at school for much of the day dutifully doing their kiddy duties. Therefore, when the bell rings and they are dismissed for the day, they leave the classroom with an air of anticipation that "work" is behind them and the good stuff awaits them at home. That they are eager to be home is heartening to parents who unfortunately must be the rule of law in their households to ensure that learning does not end in cardboard classrooms. Children who lack the necessary motivation to imbibe more information, well, fundamentally take a short-term view of things. Who can blame them? The Flintstones, The Jetsons and interplanetary head-butting superheroes are a far more pleasant afternoon diversion to times tables and algorithims.

It is one of those thankless aspects of parenting that we take the long term view of things and pull out all the stops to make sure that they get the best start to life. By that, I don't mean bombarding them with extracurricular activities. I mean getting into good habits like taking responsibility for their own things, self-discipline, taking the initiative, pick up after themselves... you know, the REALLY HARD STUFF. The stuff that matters when the big, bad realities of adult life hit them between the eyes. Unfortunately for us, the eight-year old doesn't have all that stuff hard-wired from birth so I guess it is up to us to make sure it she doesn't reach adulthood without having first heard it from us. Loudly and clearly.

I will be the first to say... I'm not the most hard-working person in the world. But thanks to growing up in an extended family with people far more diligent than I could ever dream of being nagging me at every turn, something managed to penetrate the denseness of my skull. But mostly, I am certain it's heavenly grace...

Now I only ask for bucketloads of this same grace as I meander my way through this maze called parenting...
These days I wonder more and more how my parents survived this phase of our lives.

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