Why Dogs Eat Homework
If I could hijack a time-machine, I would take my butt back twenty years and slap a twenty-two year old teacher in the face.
That teacher would be me.
I realized today what a smarmy, know-it-all I was back then. Actually, I knew that before but I never really felt the need to beat myself up over it.
My daughter’s homework precipitated this overwhelming urge.
After twenty years of teaching, I have developed some pretty strong feelings about homework. I used to think it was a great skill builder and a necessary character builder. Now, to put it simply, I think that 90% of the time it is a big ole time waster.
Dimples brought home “home”work for the first time today since school started last week. She usually finishes it before I pick her up. But this time it required Family Participation.
She pulled out this mathematical bonding activity, and I started to read the instructions. Apparently this is supposed to be a game designed to practice multiplication. Dimples knows her times tables back and forth. Perhaps the teacher thinks that I am the one who needs to brush up on my multiplication skills.
As I am trying to make sense of the instructions, Wonderbutt is doing his Stevie Wonder routine on the floor next to me. It is a little distracting. Thinking about all of the things I would rather be doing instead of 4th grade math homework is also distracting.
This game requires colored cubes which we don’t have. But the teacher has kindly written next to the materials needed that we can make our own by coloring paper and cutting them out.
“Got it!” the perpetually cheerful Dimples declares as I scowl at the increasing complexity of this “fun game.” She grabs some paper from the kitchen, quickly snips out a bunch of squares, and writes a D on half of them. Good enough.
Next thing needed are number cubes (school talk for dice). Or we “can make a spinner using a paperclip”. Surely we have some friggin’ dice around here that Wonderbutt hasn’t consumed.
At that moment, Wonderbutt falls over, nearly conking his head on the table leg.
“Yahtzee!” Dimples yells, and runs to find the miraculously intact box full of number cubes and half-completed score sheets.
I look at Wonderbutt, half-dazed on the floor, and seriously contemplate feeding him the homework. Now I know how dogs got such a bad rap.
Once the number cubes are obtained, the game goes quickly. Through no fault of my own, I win. The bottom of the page suggests we may want to play again. I reluctantly suggest this to Dimples. She shakes her head. I sign the page with a flourish and she returns it to her backpack.
I eye the Yahtzee game, mentally ticking off it’s educational virtues – addition, multiplication, gambling… Plus, there is no assembly required.
Too bad we spent so much time bonding over Dimples’ homework that we don’t have time to play it.