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Why Do I Have Homework?

Must-Have Parent

"Please don't make me yell at you. Just do your homework."

I say this every day. At least three times. And usually again every night. At least three times. With the same kid.

He is only in the fourth grade. Imagining what it will be like when he gets older and has more homework. It is enough to make me want to travel back in time, Bill and Ted style, and straight-up murder the person who decided that lessons should continue into the home hours.

Much has been made in recent years about homework, specifically how worthless it really is. The New York Times, in particular, seems determined to take homework down, and that's enough for them to keep me as a subscriber.

As much as I sympathize with my son, my biggest problem with homework is not so much that it's a waste of my son's time because -- at 10 years old -- it's not like he was going to be splitting the atom instead.

Besides, there probably is a valuable life skill in this for him. Any adult who has ever spent days inside the padded walls of a cubicle knows that being a grownup means doing lots of things that are an absolute waste of time. (Looking at you, taxes. And the DMV. And pretty much any task that ends with the word "report.")

I hate homework because of what it requires of me. And I have a ton of stuff that not only would I rather be doing, but that I actually have to do. As in not optional. As a Must-Have Parent with a deployed partner, every hour of homework my son has each night is an hour less that I'll get to sleep.

See, there's this very limited window of time in the evenings, between about 3 and 7, when absolutely everything must be done. Things like practices, lessons, meals and baths. And as a Must-Have Parent, all of these things must be done by me.

Anyone tempted to argue that kids are overcommitted and overscheduled should shove a sock in it because meals and baths are not optional. And life-enriching practices and lessons should not be sacrificed on the altar of the new math. Don't even get me started on the new math.

But it gets worse. Not only do I not give a dodo's doo-doo about my son's homework, his teacher gives me homework, too! Every day, I'm supposed to fill out a form citing the name of a book he read, how many minutes he read for, and then I'm supposed to sign it. Every day.

Do education majors take a class called "Overstepping Boundaries?" Or maybe it's called "Waiting 20 Years to Get Revenge on the People Who Laughed at You in High School."

If that weren't enough, once a week his teacher sends home a folder full of his graded work. Each page is stamped "Sign Here" and I have to sign and return each one. There are never fewer than 10 pages for me to review and sign, meaning that I sign my name at least 15 times every week.

Which, I think, qualifies as #BeyonceProblems.

That's at least 540 times this year that I will have to sign my name, not counting field trip and other forms, and none of it has anything to do with my own work or the operations of my household.

But there is hope on the horizon. Some schools around the country have started to ban homework.

For now, the best I can do is keep my fingers crossed that we'll get orders to one of those school districts.

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Military Parenting Rebekah Sanderlin

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Contributor

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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