the homework blues

I hate homework time. I should love it more, I know, but it's my least favorite time of day. I don't mind spending time with my darlings - teaching, nurturing, and generally building their vast stores of knowledge. But those things tend to happen best at the park when you find a butterfly cocoon, or the aquarium when they've discovered just how cool jellyfish are. Not at the kitchen table when they're hungry, they're tired, and all they want to do is sit down and watch themselves a little SpongeBob Squarepants.

It became such a chore this year, that I was forced to invent the "Homework is a Treat" jar. Yes, in that respect, I have become my mother. We roll a dice, and whatever number is the highest becomes the number of M&Ms everyone gets. The M&Ms are only given out upon successful completion of homework time. If there is complaining, whining, or poor effort - I get to take back some of their M&Ms. Since some days we roll only a two, these chocolate candies have become precious commodities not to be lost. We had to institute "homework" for Hannah simply as a means to keep her from tormenting the boys. She used to bounce around the table - almost always munching on some sort of messy, salty snack - singing the princess songs at the top of her lungs. IT DROVE THE BOYS CRAZY. So now we fill a yellow legal pad with rows of letters and words for her to copy, which has seemed to help.

Today is particularly challenging because Chase stayed home sick from school. I suppose that technically excludes him from homework, but his jumping on the couch tells me the antibiotic has kicked in and he could participate. Upon being informed of this, he returns to his prior death-like trance on the couch. "I'M JUST TOO SICK, MOM. REALLY."

Yeah, right.

Hannah has now finished her pages, which she loudly brags about and tosses in the face of McKay - who still sits chained to the table (figuratively, of course). He gets mad and returns fire in the form of verbal insults, which prompts her deliver a sideways strike to his cheek with her hand. This then results in his crying, and her promising all sorts of servitude if he won't tell Mom - which he recognizes as a great bargaining chip and begins a negotiation.

All this while I'm struggling to come up with an idea for dinner other than McDonalds, sort through the mail, not eat my way through a bag of Oreos, and somehow manage to tidy up the house in a vain attempt to appear in control when Josh comes home tonight.

I'm not.

And it looks like Oreos for dinner for me. Maybe for us all.