[DASH of SAS] Homework
Nothing used to make me feel more inadequate as a parent than homework.
I once complained on Facebook about how homework was made to push the limits of parents, try their already rice-paper-thin patience and make them come very close to giving up on parenthood.
It was a status update that I wrote after coming home from work and going straight to first grade Math problems. It was late, I had just kicked off my heels, was about to put my feet up but jumped up again in a panic. My 6-year-old had not done her homework because she couldn’t understand it – and was waiting for me to explain it to her.
After a long day of being pulled in different directions and wading through rush hour traffic, I was ready to pull my hair out, but I let out a sigh and sat down with my kid to discuss subtraction. Her first year in Big School and we both began to realize that homework was one of those things that could not be delegated to Yaya.
My explanation about the principles of subtraction may not have been sufficient or clear enough. She still couldn’t quite understand it after about an hour and…well, I just snapped.
I distinctly remember raising my voice, being curt and snappy in my words and actions, openly expressing my frustration. Even hiding my impatience was too much of a burden.
The more I shouted and pushed, the more she became nervous and withdrawn until she just put her head down on her book and quietly began to cry.
I burst into tears, too.
It was not my finest hour as a mother--or as a person.
I hated homework. I blamed it for making me feel like an incompetent parent.
At some point, we got a tutor and I was able to avoid the homework minefield for awhile. But as my daughter got older, I wanted to wean her off the tutor. To counter her protests, I told her a tutor was not something she could keep until her university days.
That left me having to run her through Sibika, Spanish and Science for quizzes and long tests. (Math was the only subject we left in the deft hands of a tutor.)
Reviewing parts of our history again, I inadvertently started thinking out loud—asking and saying silly things about what Facebook updates must have looked like if we were living in Spanish colonial times.
And she laughed.
So I started to make a running commentary to make her remember things like the Spanish feudal system and the tobacco monopoly.
She laughed some more and l laughed, too. We made up more jokes and related historical characters to people we knew in real life. It surprised us both when we got through her homework in a breeze.
Preparing for her next long quiz, I overheard talking on the phone with her classmate saying that she wasn’t nervous about the upcoming g Sibika test because “my Mom and I are going to review and she’s going to make it fun.”
Homework became part of our routine especially during the periodic exams.
We acted out scripts to practice Spanish. She was the waitress and I was the grumpy customer ordering salad and soup—and some other weird dish that wasn’t on the menu.
"It’s because you don’t ever want to forget but also because you always want to be able to remember and relive the moment."
We poured over Tagalog-English dictionaries for Ibong Adarna and thought of proper ways to talk about the mythical bird’s poop in Tagalog. She prepared outlines for Social Studies, mind maps for Science and drew her own self avatars on the sides of her notebook because she prefers them over selfies.
Today, as we were discussing ecosystem relationships in Science, I asked her to give me an example of mutualism.
“It where two species need and cannot survive without the other,” she said.
Then she added, “Kind of like you and me.”
I stopped dead in the middle of turning the page to begin the discussion on biomes and terrestrial regions.
“Aww…” I said, gushing and immediately preceded to try annoying her by threatening to draw hearts and stars around heading “mutualism”.
I didn’t dare, of course, but I so wanted to prolong the minute just a little bit longer, giving it time to simmer and stick to my memory.
Raising a child, there are so many occasions that make you wish you could freeze time so you could capture everything about a certain moment and tuck it away in your mental shoebox of memories. It’s because you don’t ever want to forget but also because you always want to be able to remember and relive the moment.
I like homework now. I guess because I realized it’s not really about the grade, but what you take away as lessons and memories. - Rappler.com
Ana P. Santos writes about sex and gender issues. Seriously. She is a regular contributor for Rappler apart from her DASH of SAS column, which is a spin off of her website, www.SexAndSensibilities.com (SAS). Follow her on Twitter at @iamAnaSantos.