Today I suffered a great humiliation. And since this is a small town, and this is the kind of story that tends to get around, I might as well share it here too. No I did not get caught in a compromising position or walk out of the ladies room with toilet paper stuck to my shoe. But I was busted being a bad mother.
It’s really a long story that started with an unidentified funky smell in my Suburban and ended when I realized Chet’s backpack was source of the mystery stench. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it before Chet’s teacher had to call maintenance to locate what she wrongly assumed was a dead mouse stinking up Room 116.
Of course I’m mortified that my son’s backpack emmitted an odor so foul that professionals were brought in. But the real humiliation lies in the fact that now it is common knowledge that I do not often (in fact rarely) check Chet’s backpack. Yes, this is the backpack that contains the daily homework assignment that we do not often (in fact rarely) do.
In my defense, I told his teacher at the beginning of the year that unless his homework would have a serious effect on his ability to progress, then we’d probably be opting out of homework this year. Jack, a sophomore, did not get the same option. The girls are also required to do (most) of their homework. But Chet is in the 1st grade. After a full day of doing worksheets, sitting in his seat, and standing in line, I’m not willing to subject him to one more minute of school. Note that I did not say learning. We read. We talk. We play. We do not do worksheets. Chet’s teacher, Mrs. B, is a wise woman who gets kids and, more importantly to me, gets Chet. She gave us her blessing to make our own choice about homework. So, for Chet’s first grade year, we’ve kept homework to a rare minimum.
I’m not ashamed of this. I take pride in the fact that I’m making a conscious decision about my son’s education and that I’m taking a stand against the over-emphasis on quantifiable learning, at the expense of more natural hands-on learning. I’m proud of this, but I would have preferred a more quiet, confident kind of pride. I’d rather not have to explain that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation why I was unaware that there was a six week old ham and cheese sandwich rotting in Chet’s backpack. I’ve already had one teacher impertinently ask, “How could you not have noticed?”
Easy. Just boycott homework, read, talk, play – and ignore the funky smell in your Suburban.