The state of Minnesota apparently took an Instant Summer pill today. It’s so beautiful outside, it hurts. (Or maybe that’s just the 97-degree sunshine hitting my arms.) The kids in our neighborhood are riding bikes, shouting greetings, begging for another popsicle. According to one little girl, her whole body is boiling! As if we live on the sun or in Houston or something.
But my daughter, my seven-year-old who loves to draw with sidewalk chalk and pet the dogs and ride her bike to the pond on the corner, isn’t outside. Rather, she’s restricted to the kitchen table this fine afternoon, working on a year-end project assigned by her second grade teacher.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me say up front: I revere teachers. I taught high school for a year and a half – a media class, which isn’t even a real subject – and every morning, I woke up and prayed for the flu. It was that miserable. Teaching is a calling, a gift, a ministry. I’m in awe that there are people who love this job and love my kids and pass on knowledge with creativity and wit and patience.
But the homework. Oy. The homework. And in the spring, no less.
This is new territory for me, since Natalie is my oldest. I’m still a guppy in the school of school. But I’ve heard the grumbling about homework for years. What does it really accomplish? Isn’t it just busy work? Wouldn’t it be better for kids to have that time for their family? What happens when projects are assigned that are clearly beyond the ability of the child to handle?
And then, the biggest irritant of all – the year-end project. Seems teachers just can’t resist assigning one last, comprehensive project a mere feet before the student cross the finish line – and that project is almost always something that involves the whole family.
It’s like those college professors who pile on the paperwork near the end of the semester, right before finals, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they aren’t the only professor in the world.
Doubling the pain for us in the Upper Midwest is that, by the middle of May, it’s finally nice enough for the kids to play outside. I don’t mind gigantic projects in January, when there is nothing else to do but watch the snow fall and the thermometer break. But when it’s 85 and sunny and the lilacs are blooming and the gardens are being planted? Homework seems downright malicious.
But what can a guppy parent do? Nothing, I think.
So tonight, we’ll eat ice cream indoors, while we fill her covered wagon with things a typical pioneer family might have taken on their trip out west. (I’m not sure the Ingalls’ horses were as glittery or as purple as the Polly Pocket horse pulling our wagon. Clearly, our wagon is headed for Vegas.) (Come to think of it, Natalie did add a small deck of cards a few minutes ago. Double-down, Pa. Double-down.)
Then we’ll pack it carefully for the trip to school tomorrow and turn it in with a flourish.
Because nothing says Instant Summer like no homework for three months. Hallelujah and amen.
Kelly also blogs at Love Well -- once she's done with her homework, of course.