The Wild Life: Homework hell

Dramatix came home this weekend with 53% for a maths test.

The comment from the teacher under the section for which she received a big, fat zero launched me into full autorant.

Dramatix, she wrote, “refused to even try”.

I was puce. Incandescent. Frothing at the mouth. I mean, this is the bright child who comes home with top marks for reading, and at least very good marks for maths.

Okay, she fails physical education (PE) but I don’t care about that. PE doesn’t get one into a good university.

She may only be in Grade 2, but I was having visions of her begging on street corners as an adult with no education and a bad tan.

I have zero perspective. The fact that she has just turned eight and has a full 10 years of school ahead with which to make up this mark doesn’t register on my consciousness. I mean, this is where it starts, doesn’t it? I am a mean, Type A, tiger mum.

We have a family meeting about the “maths crisis”, as I call it.

Dramatix’s father, Attila the Horizontal, sits next to me at the dining room table with a bemused expression on his face. He comes from a country where men are men and sheep are nervous. Educating women is optional.

Why bother? Who cares? They’re just going to get married anyway.

He sees the writing on the wall. He nods sagely after my every sentence. Scarlet wife stuck on autorant is not to be disagreed with. At least not now.

Dramatix is told that, as a species, we live in houses and work in buildings and not in caves surrounded by marauding wild animals because of one thing – we can count.

“I CAN count!” she wails.

“Clearly not well enough!” I fume.

She is told that the Almighty gave her a brain and would be extremely peeved if she didn’t use it. She is told she will be homeless and jobless.

She is grounded – no more play dates until this s**t is fixed. All her homework (all of it!) has to be done by the time I come home.

I will henceforth not tolerate any homework-related whingeing and none of this refusing to do it when her nanny tells her to.

This horrendous attitude is going to change. I make former Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson’s legendary “hairdryer” technique at half-time seem like a mild chiding.

The lecture of her life is followed by reapplication to write test. While she is writing it, I pen a blistering letter to the teacher communicating my displeasure at the shocking result and inform her of what is being done about it.

Section for which Dramatix received zero is rewritten. She gets full marks. This makes me even crosser.

“Oooooh!” She says. “This is quite a cool test! I should have thought a bit more.”

“You think!? Too late now. You’re still going to get a bad mark on your report.”

Then I feel guilty. Maybe I was too hard on her. Attila thinks so, and wisely waits for 12 hours before saying that. Such is the guilt that I sleep next to Dramatix, hugging her the whole night.

The teacher thought so too.

“Dear Nicki,” she writes in response. “Her maths isn’t as bad as all that. Please don’t make her homeless just yet.”

I am now going to find more time in the increasingly tenuous work-life balance to concentrate on the maths, in addition to the usual hour we spend on homework.

I think I’ll steal it from cooking time and we’ll all have sandwiches for supper. Either that, or we’ll just eat raw food. That’s a plan.

Readers, when did homework become so insane? We didn’t have to count in threes and fours up to 180 and back again when we were kids. How do you manage it, and where do you find the time?

I need help, people! (Or maybe just some perspective?)

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