Homework Hell, part 2

A new day, a new approach.

3:30 pm Tuesday

Me: Ok, better get started on your homework. I don’t want a repeat of last night.

L.: I’m starving. Can I have a snack first? And maybe watch some tv while I eat it?

Me: Snack, yes. TV, no. And if your homework’s not done by 8 pm, you’re not going to the Halloween Dance on Thursday.

L.: WHY? Why do you always have to take stuff away? That’s not fair!

Me: Would you prefer I give you something as a reward rather than take something away as a consequence?

L.: YES! Yes, I would!

Me: Fine. If you finish your homework by 8 pm, your reward is that you will be allowed to go to the Halloween Dance.

L.: But that’s the same thing! Have you been reading those parenting books again???

Me: Maybe! Now go do your homework!

L.: FINE! (storms off)

Homework Hell

The Scene:  Monday night, 9:30 pm, after nearly 4 hours of reminding, suggesting, encouraging, pleading, yelling, and demanding that my 7th grader finish her homework.

Me (yelling up the stairs):  L., are you finished with your homework yet?

L.:  WHAT????

Me:  Your homework.. is it done?

L.:  (garbled)  (something something something) done.

Me:  What?

L.:  I SAID (something something something) done.

Me:  WHAT?  I can’t hear you.  I’m coming up.

L.:  YOU DON’T HAVE TO COME UP!

I go up.  L. is on her bed, painting her nails.

Me:  Honey, it’s time for bed.

L.:  But I still have to do my math.

Me:  What??  I thought you said your homework was done.

L.:  No, I said I only have one more thing and then it’s done.

Me:  Well it sounded like you said it was done.  So if it’s not done, why are you painting your nails?

L.: Because I want them to match my neon green jeans I’m wearing tomorrow.

Me (steam coming out of my ears but trying to be patient):  Ok, but you should have done your homework first.

L.:  Mom, chill.  I’m just taking a break.  I only have math left.  Everything else is done.

Me:  Everything?  How many math problems do you have?  And did you study for your science test?

L.:  1 thru 33, but they’re easy.  And I don’t have to study.  I know everything.

Me.:  Everything, huh?

L.:  You know what I mean!

Me: Ok, your math.  Even if each problem takes only two minutes, we’re talking over an hour.  Get started!  You have to go to bed!

L.:  But I can’t get started!

Me:  Why not?

L.:  My nails are wet!

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

Sunday Salon

Well would you look at that..  it’s been a whole week since I’ve posted anything!  So sorry.

Reading:

Goldengrove-PB-199x300I was about halfway through A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents when I accidentally left it in my husband’s car, leaving me without an ‘in progress’ book.  Thankfully Goldengrove arrived that day.

Actually, Goldengrove TRIED to arrive twice before but the UPS man wouldn’t leave it without a signature.  That just burns my shorts.  Who can be home all day, waiting for books to arrive??  I wrote a note asking UPS to please leave it on the porch, or with a neighbor, so they finally did that on the 3rd day. My neighbor ran it over to me as I was leaving to pick up the kids at school, so I started it in the school parking lot and haven’t put it down since.  The writing is achingly beautiful, and I’m blown away by the author’s ability to paint such vivid mental images with her words.  I’ve inhabited the Goldengrove world entirely and I’m going to finish the book before going back to A Field Guide.. because I just can’t bear to put it aside.

The UPS man had another surprise for me this week.  Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving is a chunkster at 576 pages.  On the back cover it says, “In 1954..in Northern New Hampshire, an anxious 12 year old boy mistakes the local constable’s girlfriend for a bear.  Both the 12 year old and his father become fugitives…”  An unsolicited book of that size might have ended up on the bottom of my TBR pile, but I’m intrigued.. plus, well.. it’s John Irving.

imageDB-3.cgiMy book club meets today to discuss Lottery by Patricia Wood.  Lottery is about a mentally challenged young man who wins 12 million dollars in the Washington State Lottery.  Ms. Wood is working toward her doctorate in a disability and diversity program, and she is also the daughter of a lottery winner, making her uniquely qualified to tell this story!  She lives with her husband on a boat in Hawaii but will take time out of her busy ‘aloha’ schedule to chat with us this afternoon.

My kids have been reading quite a bit.  My youngest, the reluctant reader, found a book she likes.  Dork Diaries: Tales from a NOT-SO Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell has captured her imagination.  It’s subtitle is “The Secret Diary of Nikki Maxwell” and it’s set up as the diary of a middle school girl.  It’s kind of the female version of the Wimpy ugliesKid books.  My daughter has to read 20 minutes per day and this book has her reading a little longer, even after the timer goes off.

My oldest is a reading machine.  Her latest obsession is the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.  She plowed through Uglies in a day and a half and begged me to get in the car and drive to the book store for Pretties, the next in the series.  There are four books in the Uglies trilogy (isn’t a trilogy, by definition, 3 things?  Did he get to three and just decide to keep going??)  She’ll probably have them all finished by the end of the week.  Any suggestions on what to feed the raging reading inferno that is my 11 year old?

Kids and Home:

1st day of 5th grade!

1st day of 5th grade!

My 5th grader went back to school on Tuesday.  On Wednesday she tried out for basketball, and on Thursday she found out she made the team!  Which is great, but also adds another layer of chaos to our already hectic lives.  She’ll practice twice a week and have games through mid November.  It’s a travel team with games as far as 30 miles away, mid-week.  I’ll have to use my magical powers to be in two places at once, or rely on other parents at times to drive one of my kids around.

My 7th grader, who has played the trumpet for the last two years, announced this week that she was switching instruments.  She wants to play the baritone.  Having never been in band, I wasn’t even sure what that is.. but I know now that it’s sort of a small tuba.

Her band director thinks that’s great and is totally encouraging the switch, but I’m a little unhappy about it.  Maybe because I’m the one who has been renting the stupid trumpet for two years and paying for lessons all summer!  On the plus side, the fingering is the same on both instruments, so she should pick up the baritone very quickly.  Plus, she can use a school-owned instrument in junior high and high school (if she sticks with it) because not that many kids go out for baritone, and bands need them, so the schools have plenty to lend out.  That means no more instrument rental fees for me.  I should be happy, right?

Football season has started so the hub has checked out of family interaction on weekends in favor of a perpetual tv trance.  He’ll be “watching” the kids today during book club.  Hopefully they won’t burn the house down.

I signed on to chair the Scholastic Book Fair at the junior high, which starts this Friday and runs for a week.  There are a ba-zillion details to attend to in advance of the fair, so if anyone wondered why I haven’t been around the blog-o-sphere much lately, that is why.  It’s a big job, but I love being a book pusher.

Thanks for stopping by Books on the Brain!  Leave me a comment and let me know what’s new with you.  What are you reading this week?

The Sunday Salon – Books and Brats

Ahhhh, the end of a very long week.  Happy Sunday!  Today I’ve broken my post up into two sections, for those who would just like to read about books rather than all the nonsense that goes on with my kids.  So the first section is books, and the second section is brats.

Reading:

imageDB-5.cgiI finished Her Fearful Symmetry yesterday, which is set at Highgate Cemetery in London (adding to the creep factor of the book).  My thoughts as I turned the last page were, “What?!  That’s IT?”  I know there has been much gushing from bloggers over this book, but I haven’t read the posts (only skimmed).  I haven’t decided what I think of the book yet.  Until the very end I was expecting and waiting for a confrontation between two of the characters that never took place.  And I was disappointed by that.

After the moody gloomy feel of HFS I wanted something distinctly different, so last night I read the first few chapters of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer (which, so far, has nothing to do with cemeteries).  So far I like it.  It kind of reminds me of another book I read and enjoyed recently, The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum.  The main character has n309236similar issues (youngish, social life revolves around work, lost her mother at an early age, distant relationship with family, health issues in immediate family bring everyone together, etc.) but I’ve only read maybe 35 pages so who knows where it all will go.  It’s set in Southern California, where I live, so that part is really fun for me.

Coming up this month from the TBR pile are Who By Fire (because the guilt is getting to me), Goldengrove (for an upcoming tour), In a Perfect World (also for a tour), Olive Kitteridge (book club pick for Oct) and The Angel’s Game (for the RIP IV Challenge).

This afternoon, Sheri and I are going out for a drink together while our collective kids attend a pool party/ BBQ for their youth group.  I include this in the “Reading” section because we always talk about books and blogs when we get together!  She’s been working hard on several BBAW panels, but the panel work is complete (the voting begins next week) and she desperately needs to wind down after all that blog reading!

What are you reading this week?

Home and Kids:

This week was interesting.  My oldest started junior high and her emotions have been all over the map!  The first day she was all YAY! and I LOVE SCHOOL!  The second day she was grumpy, SO tired, and even simple questions like, “What’s wrong?” were met with major attitude, i.e.  “Nothing!  WHY DO YOU ASK?!”  We gave her a wide berth.  Days 3-5 brought everything from tears to elation.  I never know what to expect after school.  Hopefully this transition phase will be brief and she will settle into a routine soon.

Already she has homework and already we’ve argued about it.  She has to draw an island to scale on graph paper with 10 different physical features (bay, isthmus, peninsula, etc.), name all the different features with creative names and then color it all in with colored pencils.  She was given until Thursday to complete it and wanted to wait until next week to start it (probably Wednesday night).  She is the Princess of Procrastination (I’m the Queen!)

I wanted her to work on it over the weekend because she’ll have other homework next week, plus when you’re given a week to complete an assignment, the teacher’s expectations are likely pretty high (and this is an honors class).  You can’t just slap something together the night before.   She also has to label a map with all 144 countries of the world, then color that in.  Thankfully she started that on Tuesday and only has a dozen more countries to identify before she can start coloring.  But she wanted to relax and play Club Penguin all morning.  I took away computer until she did a minimum of 30 minutes on the project.  “That’s not fair, Mom!”   The school year fun begins.

What should I wear?

What should I wear?

My younger daughter starts 5th grade at a new school on Tuesday.  She is super excited and doesn’t seem to have any anxiety over being the new girl at school.  She has 2 friends at the school so I’m hoping it will all be very easy for her.  She put on a fashion show for us last night to try to figure out what to wear on the first day.  I think she has settled on black shorts, black Vans with white polka-dots, and a purple peace sign shirt that has a little scarf that goes with it.  With the weather in the 90s, she definitely doesn’t need the scarf, but it “totally makes the outfit” which, of course, is much more important than being comfortable.  At least I talked her out of the skinny jeans and the pink fleece hoodie-that would have been a sweaty combo!

Tonite, dad comes home from a 4 day business trip to Kansas City.  The kids will be at an end of summer party for their youth group, and Sheri and I are going out.  Tomorrow will be a relaxing day of swimming and BBQ’ing at my parent’s house, but it will be an early evening because IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT.  YEAH!

Happy Back to School Week!

Fresh Meat for the Wolves

IMG_4105

Some of you may know that my daughter has been sick in the last week and I wasn’t sure if she’d start school today.  She’s going to junior high now, which of course is a VERY BIG DEAL.  I just wanted you to know that she has improved tremendously and was able to start 7th grade this morning with the rest of her classmates.

She was nervous and excited.  So was I, but for different reasons.  It felt a little bit like throwing her to the wolves- some of those junior high boys have actual facial hair!  And the makeup on the girls, whew!  Heavy eyeliner, boobs, hair, ugh!!  These kids are 11-13 years old (going on 16, apparently!).  My little girl looked very, very little.  I had to fight the impulse to just scoop her up and take her right back home.

She’ll be fine, right??

The Film

The paper came home with the fourth grade girls yesterday- the one that says they’ll soon be watching “the film”.

“Mom!  You have to sign this!  We’re going to see a film about growing up and I can’t watch it unless you sign!”  She is excited, of course.  

My 4th grader is immature physically and in every other way.  She watches Spongebob, reads Goosebumps, and believes in the toothfairy.  She is blissfully unaware of fallopian tubes and sperm and fertilized eggs.

On the one occasion I tried to discuss menstruation with her, she did not want to hear it.  She knows a little bit about it from an American Girl Book her sister has shared, but not in great detail.  She’s in denial (just like her mother) and would prefer not to know.

My little girl is 10 years and 4 months old.  Aunt Flo came to visit me for the first time at 11 years and 2 months, the summer after 5th grade.  I was at Girl Scout camp and truly thought I must be dying.  I knew nothing.  I hid my messy underwear in my duffle bag and didn’t tell anyone.  My mother made that lovely discovery when I got home from camp.  We never talked about it, but some ‘supplies’ magically found their way to my bathroom.  I remember she also handed me a book called Growing UP a couple days later, with lots of information about a woman’s cycle, and a single paragraph about intercourse.  I read that paragraph in horror and fascination, checking the dictionary for unfamiliar terms, and discussing it with a neighbor girl who was equally horrified and fascinated.  

I can’t keep my daughter from growing up, but I can spare her the fear and embarrassment of not knowing what is going on when the time comes.  I just didn’t think the time would come so soon.  She may not want to hear it, at least not from me, but she definitely wants to know what’s in this mysterious film that only the girls in her class get to watch (no boys allowed!).  And I’ll take her along to pick out the products she’ll need and answer all her questions.  

At least she won’t ever have to wear a sanitary belt.  Raise your hand if you don’t know what I’m talking about (go ahead, make me feel reeeeeeally old!).

Book Fairs Create Young Readers or Young Shoppers?

Recently I chaired the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughters’ elementary school.  It was labor intensive, but my kids are always so happy and proud when I do things at their school.  My 4th grader said, “Mommy, I hope you run book fair EVERY year!”  This was my fifth and hopefully final time, so I just smiled at her and gently said, “We’ll see” while silently screaming, “HELL NO!”  My 6th grader has the mistaken notion that because I run the fair, I somehow own all the merchandise, and she can just save things for me to buy for her each time she visits (several times a day throughout the course of the week).  “Put this in my stack behind the counter, Mom.  We’ll buy it later.”  We will?  And with who’s money, Missy???  Certainly not mine! 

I have something of a love/hate relationship with book fair and with Scholastic.   Obviously, reading is important to me, and any chance I have to promote it in kids, I’ll take.  But sadly book fair isn’t really about getting kids to read.  It’s about getting kids to BUY.  

Year after year I’m disgusted by some of the things that are sent out from Scholastic.  Expensive toys and activities that have nothing to do with reading (i.e. a plastic Venus flytrap for $19.99) have no place at book fair, in my opinion.  I just leave many of the items packed up rather than putting them out on the shelves.   I was happy to see that they finally got rid of the Bratz (or, as we call them, Slutz) items.  According to this article, Scholastic has pulled them for good, and I applaud them for that. 

I don’t understand the mass quantities of computer software and games that get sent out either- getting my kids (and myself) OFF the computer is the only way to get any of us to read.  When a kid brings a computer game up to the register, I always ask, “Do you think your mom would want you to buy that at book fair?  Do you think maybe she’d rather have you buy a book?  Are you sure that game is compatible with your computer at home? Because if it’s not, you can’t return it.”  They usually put it back.  

It makes me crazy when a kid comes in with $20 given to him by his parents, who presumably wanted him to buy a book or two- and the kid blows it at the cashier table on scented highlighters, a doggy pencil sharpener, erasers shaped like $100 bills, giant hand-shaped pointers, and a Camp Rock poster.  Or the adorable 6 year old who comes in and buys a pink sparkly blank journal with a skull and crossbones on it for $12. and a $4. purple pen with feathers on top.  Does the tiny girl even write her name yet, let alone write in a journal?  And why are kindergartners attracted to the whole skull and crossbones thing?  

Or the kid who comes to book fair with a blank check and brags, “My mom said I can buy whatever I want” as he fills in the check for $78. for a coffee table sized (and priced) football book, a toy ATM machine and several posters.  Or the kids who buy a book and have 58 cents in change and say, “What can I buy for 58 cents?”  I say, “You don’t have to spend every dime you brought” as they laugh and I point them to the bookmarks and erasers.  

I’m disgusted by the parents and grandparents who let their kids lead them around by the nose, demanding this and this and THIS.  One grandparent was there every day after school buying more stuff for the same bratty child, whipping out her checkbook and rolling her eyes as said child piled more stuff onto the teetering stack.  I heard her say, “This is the last time we’re coming in”, three days in a row.  Or the mom who told her 2nd grader, “You can pick out 4 books”, as the kid had a fit because she wanted 7 books.  Mom whined, “Why do you always do this to me?” as she pulled out her credit card for all 7 books.  Who’s in charge here, people?  

After a week I’m sickened by the rampant consumerism. Where is the love of reading, I ask you??

We Remember

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts around the flagpole on Patriot Day 2008.

I Hate You, Mom

I love my children.  I want them to be happy.  I want them to get good grades, have friends, be active, be successful.  I want them to be kind and respectful and responsible.  I give them lots of attention, love, and support.  I’ve read the parenting books.  I’m involved.  I’m concerned.  I want them to have a good life.

I also want them to get up, take a shower, put on clothes, brush their own hair, make their own beds, pack their own lunches, eat their breakfasts, put their homework in their backpacks, and be ready to walk out the door by 7:50 am Monday through Friday.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently it is.

I understand a little grumpiness in the morning.  We can’t all be morning people.  But what do you do with a 9 year old girl who, when you tell her to stop dragging her feet, goes even slower than before?  Who, when sent to her room to get dressed after her shower, hangs out in a damp towel for 20 minutes?  Who takes 15 minutes to simply put on her shoes?  Who can’t be bothered to put a bite of food into her mouth until it’s time to walk out the door, then complains she didn’t have time to eat?  Who, when you tell her that you’ll have to rethink the playdate she was looking forward to if she can’t pick up the pace, turns and yells, “I hate you, Mom!”?  

What, parents, do you do about that?  If you’re not a parent, please reserve judgment- no offense, but until you’ve been there, it’s not possible to know what it feels like.  And I’m quite sure your future little darling will never do this to you because you will be an amazing parent, right?  Yeah, I remember thinking that too, pre-kids.  

The playdate is history, and she’s lost tv privileges for the rest of the week.  She apologized after I asked her to (it bugged me that I had to ask!), but my feelings are hurt.  I know, I need to suck it up and not take it personally, but still..  

Where did my sweet baby go?  And the teen years are coming (I’m terrified).  Help.

Literature: Booking Through Thursday


Lit-Ra-Chur April 3, 2008

Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:21 am 

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  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The word LITERATURE sends shivers down my spine.  Mrs. Worsham and AP English Lit spring to mind.  I can almost see her pinched face and hear her trembly voice saying, “Class, read chapters 11-17 tonight, be ready to discuss the plot analysis flow map tomorrow and our quiz will be Friday.  Any questions?”  I think of dealing with clunky language and archaic turns of phrase, questioning every possible motivation for each character, discussing the merits and relevance of the work to modern times, and I shudder.  For me, this has nothing to do with reading for pleasure.  But it was also many years ago.  

    It occurs to me that I ought to give the dreaded LITERATURE another chance, reading it without deadlines and threat of a poor grade if I don’t quite understand the broader themes.  Our book club has talked about reading some classics, and that’s been met with some groans and a roll of the eyes from me, but maybe it’s time.  

    What about you?  Do you read LITERATURE, or fear it?