Originally uploaded by tielji

Happy New Year, Friends. May 2011 bring you much joy, peace and blessings.

Tomorrow my kids go back to school. Tonight - after being on Christmas Vacation for the past...what? Three and a half weeks? ... my youngest son announces at the dinner table that he has 11 pages of homework due in the morning.

Eleven. Pages.

I know what you are thinking - surely since he is only in fourth grade, these are eleven worksheets with minimal effort required, right?

Uh-uh. Nope. Eleven pages of long division/cross-multiplication and graphing - with some word problems interspersed for maximum anxiety.

Because I want to be a good mommy (or at least appear to be a good mommy a few minutes of every day because I am sure that will add up over time to having a few years of appearing to be a good mommy) I sat with him at the kitchen table, with water glasses, a calculator (to check our answers only), and two pencils at the ready.

Things went just fine for the first 4 pages. The kid has long division down. No worries.

The fifth page? Cross-multiplying. The kid does NOT have this down. And the longer I tried to explain why the method he was using was wrong (as evidenced by the very wrong answers he was coming up with!!) the more he insisted that his teacher taught him how to do it just. that. way., and now I was trying to confuse him and get him in trouble with his teacher.

As he ultimately melted down into a puddle of anger, raging about how his teacher must have lied to him if he was wrong because she told him he did it right, *screambawlsniffwhine* I totally got why parents talk about struggling to help their kids with homework. I always thought it was because we just aren't as smart as we once were, and these kids are kicking our arses with the math and sciences they do these days!

I don't think that is the reason anymore. Well, maybe sometimes. But mostly - I think we don't want to help because it is just one more opportunity to have a power struggle. To have a fight with our loved ones. One more arena where parents get to reap what they sowed when they were being helped by their own parents way back in the day. One more place to battle and say things that we don't necessarily mean (WHY can't you just GET this? If you will just LISTEN to me instead of playing DUMB ....no honey, I don't think you are dumb. That is NOT what I said. No it isn't. NO it ISN'T. Fine! You think you know so much??! Time for you to go to bed! You can take this up with your TEACHER in the MORNING - and then you can tell me TOMORROW NIGHT how smart you are!! ....Love you, honey....sweet dreams....*sniff* ...you okay? I do love you...*sigh*) and one more opportunity to regret another parental transgression.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go work on seven more pages of math homework before I go to bed. Night, all.

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