July 17, 2024
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July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

My son has 30 questions for math homework. He says he did 12 of them in school. That means he has… um… some more to do tonight.

OK, so I don’t have a real answer here because I have to check the first 12.

And yes, I have to. I feel like for every minute you get to accomplish things during the day because you have your kids in school, you cut just as many minutes out of your night trying to get the kids to do homework.

The worst thing is that your kids know that if they drag out the homework, they get to go to bed later.

So they turn it into a whole process: First you have to wait for them to find a pencil, which is in a different place every day. Then they have to sharpen it, which takes forever, because the home sharpener you bought is not tough enough to eat 6 entire pencils every single day.

Also, all the sharp pencils in my house have no erasers, or those erasers that, instead of erasing, leave a black mark across the paper. (“There; it’s erased. You can’t read it anymore.”) And all the ones with working erasers are pencils that have some kind of lead leprosy, where the tips keep jumping off. Unprovoked. They’re just committing suicide.

Then your kid finally sits down, with both types of pencil, and tells you that she has absolutely no idea what the teacher assigned for homework. You have to email the teacher, who’s going to email you back after your child goes to bed.

So your child has to call a friend, even though logic says that if your child is the type to keep forgetting her homework, all her friends will probably be that type too. You’d think one person in this group would say, “We should really remember the homework.” Or try to become friends with the academic kids.

Of course, the school is full of helpful advice: “Send them with a homework pad. That’ll help.” Like giving a disorganized kid a tiny notebook is a foolproof way to get the homework done. I’m constantly asking, “Where’s your homework pad?” It’s at the bottom of the knapsack, encrusted with so much chametz that I have to burn it.

Some teachers say, “There’s gonna be a homework folder. If there’s homework, it will be in the folder.” Until the day your kid has no folder, and you think it’s in school, and the teacher thinks it’s at home. The homework folder doesn’t work. If my kid isn’t going to put something in his knapsack, he’s not going to put it in something in his knapsack.

The teachers also try to help from their end, with incentives. “If you do your homework, we’ll give you cute little erasers!”

You mean the kind that don’t work? Nice!

Sure, experts say that kids should be doing the homework themselves. But in your experience, if you don’t help them, you’ll get called in, and the school will suggest that you sign them up for extra help, which you have to pay for, because you’re obviously unable to provide the extra help yourself, at home. As is evidenced by the fact that you haven’t been doing it until now, because you’ve been listening to experts.

Then they’re like, “Do you send him with enough snacks? He eats his pencils.”

And in your experience, if you don’t help them, some kids will fall through the cracks. For example, the teachers in my daughter’s school are so annoying—they keep getting married. How selfish is that? OK, it’s only once per teacher per year. But it seems like more.

Anyway, generally what happens when they get married is they move away, and then another teacher takes over, and then she gets married. Apparently, teaching girls is a segulah to get married. In middle of the school year.

But who’s actually keeping track of these kids?

Then I have one kid who does his math wrong and still somehow gets the right answer:

I’m like, “What’s 5×5?”

And he goes “25.”

“How do you know?”

“Well, there are two fives. Look! 25!”

How do you even show work for that?

Or I say, “What’s eight divided by two?”


“How do you know?”

“Because eight minus two is four.”

“No, it’s not.”

“So what’s the answer?”


“How’s that different?”

The annoying thing is that I could do the homework for my kids in under five minutes, with no fights. It takes far longer to use the power of my mind to will my kid to lift his pencil and write, and even so I’m not powerful enough, telekinetically, to make him do it neatly. And if I don’t stand over them, they do it wrong. With a pen. And sometimes—because I’m a teacher and have a lot of these lying around the house—a red pen.

Of course, there are some things that are assigned specifically for the parents to do, such as school projects. School projects are the school’s way of seeing how involved the parents are in their children’s education. Because if you’re an involved parent, then your child will learn to be an involved parent, and then he’ll actually learn the material when he’s doing the project for his kids. This is how the school accomplishes what you pay them to do. And in the meantime, they’re teaching you. After all, who’s the one paying for the education here?

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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