The following appeared in the December edition of Chicago Parent.
As we get deeper into another school year, there are several recurring themes in my life.
First up: I suck at homework.
Remember when we were kids and couldn’t conceive of a more heinous punishment than diagramming sentences?
Hold my beer, Punky Brewster.
In teaching my boys this new form of math steeped in the absurd, I have officially become the ferryman of Hades. Every basic rule has been tossed. I feel deceived! Misled! Don’t even get me started on the great Metric System Lie.
I AM STILL WAITING, MISS FLOWERS.*
Last month, my youngest son delivered a list of after-school activities. I immediately honed in on “Homework Club.” Sweet Jesus, there was outsourcing for this! Salvation would be mine. I picked three slots a week.
Then I received a nice little note from the assistant principal gently pointing out that I was to select ONE post-school activity, not three.
I returned to my weekly spot in the kayak to hell trying to understand Common Core math.
The only thing contributing more to my premature death than homework?
School attendance offices.
For 10 years, I have followed the rules. I have submitted the doctor notes. I have made the phone calls.
And my kids have approximately 150 unexcused absences.
These so-called “attendance offices” clearly exist only in the realm of unicorns and the Loch Ness Monster.
The educational system underestimated people like me when they started putting this all online. In the 1980s, if an absent was marked “unexcused,” our overwrought mothers wracked their brains but typically forfeited the fight.
I can obsess DAILY. I stalk the attendance offices harder than I stalk Kohls for 30% off coupons.
School is stressful for parents, and previous generations got off easy. Report cards were dropped on our parents without warning. Dad would lose his mind over a bad grade or two, but everybody moved on to watch The Love Boat by 7 pm. All was forgiven and quickly forgotten.
Nowadays, we suffer from information overload with the expectation of doing something with it.
There is no winning. There is no safe spot between being disengaged and being fanatical. It makes me wish I could have parented in a completely different era.
I bet the property taxes on Little House on the Prairie were awesome.
*Miss Flowers really was my 3rd grade teacher. Despite the big metric system lie, she was quite lovely.