An open letter to my children’s teachers.
I would like to start with a statement of fact. You are amazing. No, really. You absolutely, one hundred percent, are. You spend the majority of your term time waking hours with my children. Plus 29 others. Not only that, you do so in a calm and sanguine manner. I lose my shit when I get a bit of sellotape stuck to my finger and it won’t come off. I can only imagine what my demeanour would be like if locked in a classroom with 30 hell-demons. You are heroes, every last one of you.
Which leads me on nicely to the subject of homework. Because I would like to be very upfront with you about the state of my children’s homework after the half term break.
I’m laissez-faire when it comes to my views on homework. If it keeps my children silent and out of my way, I approve of it. If it requires me to interact with them or spend my life savings and my soul crafting a mausoleum out of used toilet rolls and empty crisp packets then I am vehemently opposed. In either scenario, I in no way blame you for setting it. You are merely attempting to meet the entirely reasonable Government expectation of teaching a curriculum which changes every time the Education Secretary changes her socks. Oh, and requires you to psychically know exactly what whim has flashed through her mind at the very moment she’s dreamt it up, in order to be able to teach it. But I digress.
What I will never be, though, is a parent who does their children’s homework for them. Or even with them. I remember vividly completing my homework from the age of seven until the age of eighteen. It was shit. Every last, miserable second of it. And all that got me through was that people kept telling me that once I finished school I would never have to do it again.
And so I am damned if I am starting now.
Consequently, my children have been required to undertake their homework, all by themselves. And this, if I’m honest, has had varying degrees of success. So, just so there are no surprises, here’s what you can expect:
Times tables. Jamie did all of these, and I think they might even be correct. Ignore the red scribbles over most of the numbers. That was Beth getting her hands on his homework, and deciding she disagreed with most of his answers, even though they are actual mathematical fact. Beth does not let a little thing like mathematical fact get in the way of her deep-seated conviction that Jamie is wrong. About everything. Ever.
Spellings. These are a bit of a mixed bag, for both children. I did actually help with these, but there are only so many times you can tell them that no, “climb” is not spelt with a “silent Z” before you lose the plot completely. Take heart that they’ve got a spelling and grammar pedant as a mother, so I can assure you all text messages and emails to me will be returned with lashings of red pen on if they even think about forgetting it’s I before E, except after C, except when it isn’t, because the English language is mad.
Fronted adverbials. Nope, not even slightly, not a bloody clue. “What is a fronted adverbial?” asked Jamie. “Not a bloody clue,” I said. “But I thought you were really clever.” “Well, I thought I was too, but apparently not.” We Googled, and I can tell you that I’m still none the wiser. I’m optimistically hoping they’re going to go the way of the slide rule and the hole in the ozone layer and we won’t have to worry about them in a few years’ time.
Oh and if I can just specifically mention Beth. She’s done her homework. Beth loves homework. Caveat: it may not be the homework you were expecting. Last time I checked her homework book there was a random and mostly illegible story about a crayon in there, a picture of her playing football and some veiled threats which appear to be directed Jamie’s way. (Correctly spelt though, which I assume counts for something.) It’s almost certainly not what you wanted, but she’s delighted with it. Oh, and she’ll need a new homework book. That shit filled up 72 pages.
I’d like to say we’ll be better next half term. We won’t. And so, if you wanted to skip the hell of having to think up homework for 30 recalcitrant 10 or 7 year olds, forgo the nightmare of spending your evenings marking it, and just kick back with a large gin instead… well I say, go for it. I won’t tell that pesky Education Secretary if you won’t.
With love, IKINTST xxx