Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mama's got too much homework

My children went to school without jackets today.  I know this because my husband said to me tonight while we were standing in the kitchen and I was sifting through the mountain of paper that had come from two little backpacks, "Is it bad that I took the kids to school without jackets today?"  I nearly exploded.

The question itself sparked my ire because the kids are both fighting colds, and it was a chilly morning.  For that reason alone they needed jackets.  What made me even madder, however, was the fact that my husband had obviously not read ANY of the paperwork that the preschool has sent home in the last few weeks.  In nearly every letter, and we receive at least one per week in each child's backpack, the teachers stressed how important jackets are because the children go outside to play every day.  There is no question after reading these notices that the kids need to wear, or at least carry, jackets to school.

I was angry, I think, because I have entirely too much to remember right now.  My colleagues told me yesterday that I am the task master of the group; they also told me I am doing too much at work.  I agree, but I'm not sure how to slow down the frenetic pace that has become my job.  So I just keep plugging away, staying just ahead of the next at bat, and failing miserably at keeping my various projects organized in any coherent fashion.

I have been managing a little better at home, completing preschool paperwork, scheduling doctor appointments, and completing house maintenance with a bit less chaos around me.  At least this is what I thought until I emptied the backpacks tonight.

The weekly teacher-letters informed me of the content of the kids' classes this week.  Like always, I struggled initially to match the "yellow" and "red" content to the correct child.  Once I did, I asked my son to show me how he learned to make an "L" with his left hand.  I continued to skim the letter, noting that the teachers encouraged us to help our child learn to put on his coat independently.  They shared the strategy that they are using in school to accomplish this feat, but I couldn't quite understand the description.  I was exhausted, and I couldn't focus.

So I turned to my daughter's letter and discovered that the "red" class is also working on developing independence, specifically on putting on jackets.  Her teachers were even more direct in their suggestion that we help them to become independent by practicing at home what they had been doing in class.  They outlined a jacket-donning exercise that mirrored the one from the "yellow" letter.  I still couldn't grasp the mechanics of it.

Though perhaps it wasn't the intent of the letters, the message I got was, "your 3-year-old twins must both be able to put on their jackets independently by next week." I nearly cried.

After a long day in the city, ironically where I was teaching about reading comprehension, I could barely visualize the "lay it on the floor backward and flip flop over her head" strategy described in the "red" letter.  I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of directing both of my kids to independence in this task - and doing it so that we make some kind of progress in the next four days, three of which I am working. I knew my husband would not even read the letter so if I were to enlist his help, I'd have to decipher the instructions, explain it to him, give him a demo, and trust that he would relay the information to the sitter tomorrow morning and practice it with them himself on Saturday since I am working.

Managing to control the tears of frustration that threatened to fall, I tossed the letters back on the pile of papers and told my husband that I didn't think I could handle all of my work in addition to all of the "homework" that the kids were bringing home.   I suppose this year is preparing me for the realities of K-12 school, and I'm learning that being a parent in the parent-teacher-student triad is perhaps even more difficult than I had ever imagined.  But seriously, Mama has too much homework right now, so jacket independence will just have to wait.  As long as my husband can remember to send them with jackets to school, I'll let the teachers take the lead on this one.


  1. I was at Jen Hampton's house after school today and her three school age kids were beginning their homework; Delaney was working on her "word study" - which is the new fancy way of saying vocabulary - and she was struggling to separate the "consonant, vowel, vowel" words from the "consonant, vowel, consonant" words. My head was spinning and for the life of me, I couldn't understand how adding this step to learning new words was doing anything but frustrating this little 7 year old.

    That's how I feel after reading your post about "on the floor, over the head" jacket strategy. Can you imagine if our moms had received instructions on how to instruct us to put on our coats? Particularly ones that involved the floor?

    I think I need to move to a mountain top and simplify asap because life is hard enough without adding additional steps and more worksheets to it!

  2. Good news. Hubby read the letters without being asked. (Unless of course you count the rant I made regarding his failure to read ANYTHING that came home from school.) Bad news. He doesn't understand the jacket directions any more than I do.