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I did not have this much homework in second grade. I went to a hippie school in Malibu. We played in a creek at recess. They had a rope swing. I would fall asleep in class every once in a while because my mom didn’t believe in bedtimes, and they let me stay  asleep!

Ali Macgraw was in my mom’s carpool. Once I pretended no one was home so the movie star would take me to her house. She was concerned about me and I loved it! Anyway it was very 1970’s. And I never had homework.

homeworkphoto via Catherine

But Jack gets a lot of homework every week:  11 new spelling words, a math problem (that I can’t do, sometimes), reading (two books), writing homework, and on top of this the occasional report (holiday traditions or how to make blah blah blah) And the tears!  The drama! Why is a sharpened pencil with a working eraser so hard to find? Why can’t I be more patient? Why does Jack have to yell at me? Why do I have to yell at Jack? Why can’t we all just get along?

Lately we started a new rule. We get the homework done before dinner and there is no TV until both dinner and homework are done. I brought this new rule up in the car after Christmas break.

Jack, we’re not watching any TV until after we do some homework and eat dinner. 

I paused bracing myself for the crying, the yelling, the protestations.

Okay.

Jack said in a resigned but sensible voice.

Sometimes he surprises me. He’s so much more easy-going than me. And we’ve pretty much stuck to it with just a few lapses (like last night). It used to be horrible. Jack would watch cartoons while I made dinner and then we’d eat and then it would be 7:30 or 8 p.m. and then we’d start doing homework. It was a disaster. He was tired. I was tired.

I can’t do it!

He’d cry, letting his whole body flop around like a punk rock rag doll.

School is weird. Why do they teach certain things and not others? Why is it bad that Jack is obsessed with Minecraft? Shouldn’t they be teaching him about computers? Shouldn’t he learn how to code?

Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg believes children should be taught to code. I think that’s a great idea. Personally, I wish I had learned about credit cards, balancing a cheque book, how a mortgage works, plumbing, electrical, drywall, and some basic car mechanics in school. Oh and maybe how to navigate a divorce. Now those are some useful like skills.   

Precious Chong is a writer and actor living in Toronto. She’s also a professional stilt walker and is the daughter of cult movie hero Tommy Chong.

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