“Mom? Mom! Can you help me with my homework?”
I had just wandered upstairs. There was a load of clothes in the dryer that needed to be taken out and folded. Again. This is my life.
“Hold on a minute, honey. Let me get these clothes out of the dryer.”
I dumped the clothes onto my bed and left them in a pile. They would wait to be folded. Along with the other load of clothing that was already there.
I walked down the stairs to find my daughter in the family room watching TV, her homework spread out over the kitchen table. Papers and workbooks and a stubby pencil with a worn eraser littered the surface. How can these kids never have a full-sized pencil? We bought dozens of them just a few months ago.
“Okay. What am I looking at?”
“Can you tell me if I got the math problems right?”
I stared at the paper. Fractions. A couple of graphs. Some word problems. I would have to do the homework myself to see if her answers were correct.
“Did you understand it?”
“Yeah. Did I get them right?”
We had talked about this before. She knew not to ask about stuff like this, knew that homework was a time for her to practice what she learned in school. If she doesn’t understand the lesson, then it’s okay to ask for help at home. It is not okay to ask me to correct her mistakes just so she can get a hundred percent on everything.
“I’m sorry, honey. You have to trust your answers. Double check them if you have to. I’m going upstairs to finish my chores.”
I folded the clothes and sat down at the computer. There were blog posts to read, emails to sort, Facebook and Twitter to attend to. A calendar to update. This has become a job to me. One that I love.
I heard footsteps stomping up the stairs.
“Mom. Can you check my spelling?”
I closed my eyes and drew a deep breath. Exhaled silently.
I glanced at the words; my daughter is a pretty good speller. She knows it. “These are okay.”
“Thanks. Is it okay if I wear my jeggings again without them being washed?” She launched into a monologue about her wardrobe choices.
I listened, my back to the computer. As she paused, I turned towards it. She started talking again, then stopped abruptly. She gave me an exaggeratedly sad look, but I saw the irritation underneath. This was a face that was contrived to elicit feeling in others. This was not a new dance we were doing. I know the steps well.
I stood up and took her hand. “Come with me.”
We walked down the hall to her bedroom and sat on the bed. “I’d like to know what’s going on here. When I leave the room, you call for me. When I’m elsewhere, you find me and demand my attention. We both have work to do. This is not okay.” I was calm, but annoyed.
She was quiet, then sputtered in exasperation, “I need help with my homework!”
“No, you don’t. You are doing fine with your homework. It is not my job to correct your mistakes. You won’t learn if I just point them out to you.”
Her fake sadness was gone. She was mad. I listened for a few moments as she made up other excuses for why she follows me around the house every day to intercept me before I go about my business. I didn’t know where you were. I didn’t understand this. I thought you were down here. I needed help.
I acknowledged and deflected each of her arguments. I had a feeling I knew the reason for her constant interruptions but wanted her to tell me herself.
Then she did.
“WHEN I COME HOME FROM SCHOOL YOU ARE ALWAYS AT YOUR COMPUTER! I WANT TO HANG OUT WITH YOU BUT I CAN’T BECAUSE YOU’RE ALWAYS DOING SOMETHING ELSE! I JUST WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU!”
|She knows the location of all the buttons, and she's not afraid to push them.|
This post inspired by:
Prompt 3: The last thing you felt guilty about.
Update: This post was featured on BonBon Break on February 7, 2014.