Sunday, October 13, 2013

Walking The Halls of Homework Shame

So there I was, standing in the hallway watching my third grader with her back to me chatting with her friends before school started. My daughter knew I was there, but she was trying to pretend I was anywhere but standing a few feet behind her.

I nicknamed Jenna “the negotiator” from the time she was three years old. She never takes your first offer, and she’s always trying to work a better deal. She had somewhat succeeded in this instance, but she didn’t get exactly what she had hoped. If Jenna had her way, I would have dropped her off at the school’s front door…or even let her get on the bus as usual (or, as “usualer” as she likes to say).

My visit to school was the result of Jenna forgetting to turn in her homework…AGAIN. This had been a topic of discussion both at home and during a recent parent-teacher conference. We always do homework and make sure it’s securely placed in her backpack. But somehow, my 8 year-old failed to turn in her homework about once a week. I was painfully aware that her third grade class had 33 students (see previous posts about the voted local levy), and I certainly didn’t expect her teacher to follow-up with her every single day about turning in homework. A third grader should remember the arrive-at-school morning routine includes returning homework to its proper place.

On previous forgotten homework infractions, Ryan and I removed TV and video game privileges. When those tactics no longer became effective, we devised Plan B. We informed Jenna that I would be walking her to class and watch her turn in her homework. She pleaded for a reduced sentence, so we agreed that rather than me walking into the classroom with her that I would stand in the hallway a few feet away. I emailed her teacher and let her know our plan.

The next morning I pulled into the parking lot next to the busses.

Jenna said, “Mom…NO! You can’t walk in with me where all of the kids are getting off the bus. Please go to the parking lot next to the office at the front of the school.”

So, I went to the front parking lot. We got out of the car, and walked to the door.

“Mom, this is good…I won’t forget…promise,” stated Jenna.

“Nope, I’m going in,” I responded. The negotiations had ended.

Jenna fell behind me about 10 feet, staring at the floor as she walked.

I found this somewhat amusing…it the first time Jenna didn’t want to be seen with her mother. I’m sure if I had cupcakes or something, she’d be right there with me. But not that morning…there wasn’t anything to celebrate.

As I walked into the third grade hallway, Jenna ran past me to a group of friends in front of her classroom. As promised, I stood a few feet away from her. But it didn’t matter…her friends recognized me.  Jenna turned around once, shooing me away with her hands…pleading with her eyes. I slowly shook my head “No,” with which she responded with an eye roll and turned her back to me again.

Her teacher acknowledged me with a smile and a nod as she walked towards the students standing outside the door to tell them they could go inside the classroom. At the same time, a different teacher asked what I was doing. When I explained what was going on, she smiled and responded, “She’ll never forget her homework again.”

Then I drew closer to Jenna’s classroom door. I watched her take out her homework folder, and walk over to the homework box…which was conveniently located near the door. She refused to look over at me as she turned it in…still too embarrassed that Mom was there. I smiled, then turned and walked down the hall.

Mission accomplished.

It’s been two weeks since that fateful day, and she has remembered to turn in her homework every school day since.  Let’s hope we never have to walk the halls of homework shame again

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Inferno

As the days become shorter and cooler, I return to reading for stress relief and relaxation. I'd much rather read than watch TV.

I started reading Inferno by Dan Brown on our way to Washington DC about three weeks ago. As we visited the monuments and sites, I kept thinking of another Dan Brown book The Lost Symbol which was set in DC.

Inferno takes place mostly in Italy...first in Florence and then in Venice. If I could pick just one country in Europe to visit, it would be Italy. Reading this book intensified my desire to tour Italia.

Inferno is the fourth thriller-mystery I've read by Dan addition to aforementioned The Lost Symbol, I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons (my favorite). Whenever I read Dan Brown, I remember years ago when I was sitting in Relief Society and a sister mentioned "minds were being corrupted" with a best-selling novel titled The Da Vinci Code...the very book sitting on my nightstand at the time. If that's true, I'm a lost cause.

The story in Inferno followed a familiar Brown pattern...someone dies, and certainly more people are going down (perhaps all civilization as we know it) if Robert Langdon (aka Tom Hanks) can't piece together a chain of clues found in art, architecture, literature and historical relics. It's entertainment and heart-pounding tension all rolled into one. Brown got me again with a plot twist I didn't see coming...a turn of events so bizarre this time around I wasn't sure if I was buying what Brown was selling.

All the same, it was a good read with a historical-Italian backdrop. In typical Brown fashion, there are ancient religious symbols and themes throughout the book...some of them interesting and others disturbing. In Inferno, the concepts of population control and genetic engineering were troubling and thought-provoking at the same time.

While not my favorite Brown novel, Inferno is a good read on many accounts.