N is in 4th grade now, which brings some big changes for her in terms of school work and volume. Gone are the days when Friday equaled an empty "to-do" folder and assignments were due the very next day (not some point into the future requiring her to manage.her.time.)
This past Friday she had two Language Arts assignments, one due next Wednesday and the other (a simple worksheet) due on the 20th. I instructed her yesterday morning to go ahead and get her work done for numerous reasons:
- Last night she was to attend a sleepover/birthday party, and N morphs into a rabid, hungry bear if she doesn't get 11 hours of sleep.
- Sunday evenings are always spent at Mamaw's house for dinner and family time.
- Monday evenings are our piano lessons.
- Tuesday nights Mamaw comes to our home for dinner.
- This coming Wednesday we have a Girl Scout troop meeting.
- Thursday night is Open House at school.
And I am not of the procrastinating persuasion.
If N were the type of child who would sit and do her homework on her own at the dining room table, I might not have made a big deal of going ahead and getting it done. But N, as a general rule, wants me to "help her," which essentially means sit right next to her, a job I dislike immensely. Not only does this prevent me from doing things I need to do, it also invites the boys into homework/quiet space, since they, too, seem unable to do most anything without checking in with me or wanting me to sit right next to them. The disruptions from the boys annoy her and make the completion of homework more difficult.
If her homework is going to infringe on my ability to do the things I need and want to get done, then I feel I have a say in when she does the work.
Part of N's homework was to read a short magazine and answer some questions. One of the questions was something like "When did Rosa Parks' refusal to sit at the back of the bus lead to the boycotts?" N's answer was 2000 years ago.
Now, I know my daughter, and to the best of my knowledge, she reads above grade level and tests very well. Her comprehension and scanning skills are pretty darn good so answers like this do not ring of "I honestly don't understand." They ring of "I am pretending to be stupid because I feel like pushing my mother's buttons, and I don't feel like doing this work but would rather sit and watch an episode of Kickin' It that I have seen 10,000 times."
I can garner sympathy/empathy if my child truly doesn't understand.
I cannot tolerate pretending to be dumb.
To make a long story short, I'll just sums up what followed as a skirmish of epic proportions involving her yelling, me yelling, her slamming doors, and me having to restrain myself from tearing her magazine into a zillion little pieces. (What kept me from following through was the idea of writing a note to her teacher explaining that I destroyed the magazine because N was being a complete douche-bag.)
D suggested I walk away from her when she does this, but my children do not just let me walk away. My children, when I try to disengage myself from an unpleasant battle of wills with them, FOLLOW ME! Pester me. Bang on the bedroom door that I've locked myself into in an attempt to not kill them. If D were helping them, they wouldn't blink an eye if he walked away. They would then come.find.me.
I am ok with letting her fail, letting her write stupid answers and take whatever consequences come at school, but the cost of doing that is to bear up under the weight of her badgering me and that is an aggravating burden to bear.