I thought that once I hit 40 I'd be in so much physical pain from my newly acquired advanced age that some of life's other "treats" (homework, for example) would take a respite. Unfortunately, however, this does not appear to be the case.
Specifically, homework-related parenting consumes most of my post-school/pre-bedtime policies and procedures. Basically, the policy is "get your homework done!" The procedures, however, vary considerably from day-to-day. Not because I don't have procedures, but more because the kids have no intention of executing the policy my way.
Today, the negotiations were particularly tricky. I had my class to get to and so I had to make sure the bulk of the work was done prior to departure. Also on Mondays, the homework is extensive because the teachers feel that they need to make up for two whole days of free-thinking. Then, toss in a little dinner and bath and you have yourself a recipe for failure in a nanosecond.
Along the way, I have learned that forewarning is helpful, but that it does not preclude the torturously, endless negotiating strategies that will ensue when the starting shot goes off. Today, it began with a little, "can't I just do it after dinner?" from The Older One (9 years old) to a slightly more complicated diversion in The Little One (6 years old).
Both my kids are intelligent, but "The Little One" (as I shall call her to protect her fragile privacy) is dangerously smart. (Think Super Villain.) If you have never been around someone who is dangerously smart, then you are probably living a happy, fulfilled life with nary a care in the world. I, on the other hand, am plagued by a child who is continuously at least one giant leap ahead of my in just about every situation. As such, I never know what is going to happen from one second to the next.
A case in point: one day she came home from kindergarten complaining that she hated school and it was boring. She said she didn't want to go back and, if I loved her, I wouldn't make her go. For once, I thought I had a convincing response to this recurring dilemma so I dove right in. "Well, you want to be an entomologist or zookeeper, right?" She eyed me suspiciously, "yes..." And, I said, "you have to go to school to learn enough to be able to do that job!" She instantly smelled a rat. "Mommy! We don't do any of that stuff at school. School is stupid." How dare I try to manipulate her! But I digress...
So today, I tell "The Little One" that she would start her homework in five minutes. She popped up off the couch (where she was watching SpongeBob), slipped her shoes on her feet, and headed for the door. I asked her where she was going and she said, "I'm going outside. Don't come and get me. I know how long five minutes is." Curses, foiled again!