How to Avoid Homework in the Digital Age

Yesterday Marley was “doing homework” in her room. We bought her a lovely Crate and Barrel desk (well, the original owner bought it from Crate and Barrel – I got it and the almost-matching-Ikea-chair at a yard sale for forty bucks a couple years ago), but she prefers to use her desk as a place to store dirty clothes, books, old homework, candy wrappers (even though she’s not supposed to have candy in her room) and god-know-what-else on it (she uses her floor to store the overflow that doesn’t fit on her desk) and do her homework on her bed.

(Wow! That was an 92 word sentence – I know I write obnoxiously long sentences, but I might have set a record!)

Anyway, I walked in her room to check on her and she was reading a book. She’s reading Eighth Grade Bites, the first Vladimir Tod book by Heather Brewer. I love to read and she claims that she does not like to read, so it brings me joy that she is reading a book. She also needs to read books and then test on them at the school library to get points for her Language Arts class. (Why is it called Language Arts in middle school, but English in high school? Just wondering.) She needs ten points by next Friday and Eighth Grade Bites is worth seven, so she will have to read another book after (and Ninth Grade Slays is almost twice as long) so she does need to read.

But. I would still prefer that she do her reading last. She’s a fast reader. She can read on the weekends.

She had to do nine math problems, study bones for science (did you know that 1/4 of the bones in our body are in our feet?), and write over 20 vocabulary sentences for Language Arts. I know this because all of her homework is online. Yes, the digital age makes it possible for even non-helicopter moms like me to know what their kids are supposed to be doing.

“You’re doing your reading first?” I asked her trying to sound upbeat and chipper instead of disapproving.

“Yes, I’m almost done,” she answered. “I only have a few pages left.”

“Okay,” I said and handed her an index card with her homework assignments written on it. “Finish up and start your math.”

“I know, Mom,” she said in that lovely tween voice that lets you know they know. (Everything!)

A half an hour later I popped my head in her room to let her know I found a cool website with some math games for percentages. She’s been struggling with percentages and I’m great at percentages (probably because in my mind percentages equals buying things on sale), but I’m not great at teaching her percentages. (Probably because she’s not great at listening.)

She was still reading her book.

“I thought you said you were almost done.”

“I am,” she answered.

And then I noticed the glow on her face. It was not a metaphorical glow that lights up your face because you are reading words that inspire or enlighten you. It was a physical glow. A bright glow that reminded me of the  briefcase in Pulp Fiction.


And it was coming out of her book.

She was the modern day version of a kid in class with a comic book stuck inside of a text book.

“Hand over the iPod,” I said.

“But Mom,” she whined. “Listening to music helps me concentrate. Even Dr. Robin said it’s a good idea.”

“Yes, well listening to music may help you concentrate, but having a mini computer stuck in your book does not. Hand. It. Over.”

And after a few “That’s not fairs” she did.

And then I went back to my laptop and got back to work. After watching a short film on YouTube. And commenting on some Facebook status updates. And scrolling Twitter. Because Marley has nothing on me when it comes to being distracted.

(And if you’d like to be distracted even further, here is the film on YouTube that caught my eye.)