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Suburban Island

Holiday Homework
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2003, 11:51 p.m.

Question: What could be bad about a three-day weekend?

What I Learned: The homework is never done.

Another three-day weekend has been put behind me. Isn’t it great – three whole days off! Time for family. Time for all those household chores piled up everywhere. Time for me too. Time for staying up way later that any reasonable bedtime hour. Time to sleep in. Time to watch movies and do other fun stuff. What could go wrong?

Just one little thing that I assure you will end in maternal distress to the max – the last-minute homework frenzy. When will it start? Late in the evening on the night before everyone is due back to school. Why will I not be prepared? Because for the entire weekend I have asked – do you have any homework? Because for the entire weekend I have nagged – you had better get that homework done early in the weekend or else you won’t get any help from me (I’m such a big liar). Because for the entire weekend I have requested – will you please go through all your assignment notebooks and folders and make sure you have every project and assignment done. Because for the entire weekend I have stated – you may not hang out with your friends, watch TV, or get on the computer until you have done all your homework.

I have no homework is the reply. Or, I had some homework but it is all done. Or, I have some homework but it is hardly anything. Or, I have some and I promise I’ll do it later because I really must – fill in the blank with the following: chill with my friends, check my e-mail, IM everyone I know, watch TV, go bowling, get coffee, hit the mall, eat dinner, take a nap, talk on the phone…

Around 9:00 at night the wheels start going. This is when I am trying to get myself ready for the next day and just starting to relax and thinking that maybe tonight I will actually hit the sack a bit early to start off the week right. I have my jazz playing. Maybe I am working on my online diary or weblog. Maybe I am just getting a little jump on tomorrow – reading the email or doing me expense report. Maybe I am having a nice long chat on the phone with a friend. Maybe I am curled up on the sofa reading a nice novel. Oh, sorry – that’s my life in an alternate universe.

Here’s the real deal.

Someone comes into the office waving a piece of paper. They say – I just need to type this up. The paper is covered front and back with handwritten notes for a paper. They type about 5 words a minute. It requires editing – of course. Can I use your computer for a few minutes? I just need to do extensive research for a paper worth a major part of my grade, which amazingly, is due tomorrow. How do you do a bibliography again? A worksheet is unearthed. It is 10 pages long. Front and back. It has math problems on it. Most of them are not done. I don't know how to do any of the ones that are left. An analysis of a poem and the imagery contained within comes to light – this means creating an Excel spreadsheet. How do you fill in those little boxes again so all the words fit? Oh yeah, and a copy of a court decision is required. Anything will do – as long as it’s that one about wearing black armbands to school during the Vietnam War because it was particularly mentioned as an example in class – can we find that? Do we have a copy of The Scarlet Letter because I need to have 5 chapters read by tomorrow? Can we run up to the bookstore - maybe they aren't really closed yet? I guess I can use your hardback edition with the gilt edges if I have to. I can just shove it into my book bag in the morning. And Mom, can you wash my gym uniform before tomorrow (time – midnight). Thanks.

The darker side of federal holidays has again been revealed to me.

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