beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

World War Homework

My teenage daughter just told me that she DOES have homework, AFTER ALL.

Which is really SO HILARIOUS (read: not hilarious), because just one hour ago I walked in the house with a small child, a box of popsicles, my purse (complete with hairspray, gel and bobby pins because I did my hair in the work bathroom this morning – go, me!), a backpack of wet gear from preschool swim lessons, and 3.75 kid art projects because one didn’t quite make the move from the car intact.

As soon as I saw my girl child lounging in the reclining chair, eating ice cream, watching Wipeout on TV, and scrolling through her Facebook page online while texting her friends, I said, “Hey, baby. Do you have homework?”

I was very nonjudgmental and sweet.

And she said, “Don’t call me baby, Beth.”

And I said, “You’ll always be my baby. And don’t call me Beth, baby.”

And she said, “Whatever, Beth.”

And I said, “Make me brownies, baby.”

And she said, “OK, Beth.”

And we were at an impasse. Except I got brownies, so I was pretty sure I won.

Then an hour passed, and Abby just told me that she DOES have homework, AFTER ALL. And THEN I realized that she never answered my initial homework query, cleverly distracted me by calling me Beth, got an extra hour of television and computer time and got to eat brownies. 

So now I think maybe I didn’t win.


I must say, I find this situation fascinating because it’s a more verbose version of the past week with my 12-year-old son.

Monday’s Conversation:

“Ian, do you have any homework?”


Tuesday’s Conversation:

“Ian, do you have any homework?”


Wednesday’s Conversation:

“Ian, do you have any homework?”

“Just a little.”

“When is it due?”


FYI, “just a little” was a many-step report so I said, “Ian, I’m thinking your teacher gave you this homework before today.” And then I raised my eyebrows to the roof and pursed my lips in a not-happy-mama style.

And he said, “I forgot.”


I believe my son forgot his homework the same way I believe that skydiving is fun or losing weight is easy or that I will someday sleep again. In other words, I doubt it very much.

I e-mailed his teacher.

Dear Ms. Teacher,

Ian tells me he “forgot” that he was assigned the gigantic report. I think I may have a kid who’s trying to pull the wool over my eyes, but I want to be sure before I string him up by his toenails.

See, for the past several weeks, we’ve received conflicting reports. Yesterday’s story was “no homework.” Today’s story is that he got it yesterday, but “forgot.”

I told him I’d ask you when it was assigned so we have a better understanding. If I owe him an apology for doubting his story, I WILL HATE THAT, but I’ll suck it up and deliver it. If he’s being a liar-pants, though, I have a few toilets that desperately need scrubbing between homework assignments. Heh heh.

What can you tell me now that you know the depth of the trouble my child potentially faces?


And I received this reply:

Send him to the toilets! 

Ms. Teacher

That’s not all she said, you guys. She’s quite eloquent. But that was totally the relevant bit. She had me at send him.

You guys, I think it’s fair to say at this point that I’m losing World War Homework.

I’m pretty sure my problem is motivation. ‘Cause if my kids diligently study, who will make me brownies and scrub the toilets?

And also, if my 12-year-old boy child is going to remember something important, I kind of want him to remember to wear deodorant.



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18 responses to “World War Homework”

  1. I share your hardship as well as other parents. Some kids and teens are much unmotivated to do their homework because there is too much distraction and they make so many excuses out of it.

  2. Love, love, LOVE your blog! I just found it today, yay! My 14 year-old actually does her homework, without prompting, all the time and doesn’t even PROCRASTINATE on projects or reports! She is so totally ruining it for the younger three! I have completely given up homework and hired a neighborhood teenager to sit with the younger three for four afternoons a week (mostly for the two third graders, very occasionally helps the sixth grader). It so made me laugh to come home early yesterday and hear him say “Get that pencil out of your mouth! No one wants a pencil that’s been in your mouth!” (He’s like 17, I bet my kids have put him off having kids for YEARS, his parents must be so thankful! ha ha)

  3. Oh I love Ms. Teacher’s reply – and I love that you can write that note to the teacher. I wish I could do that here. At least it would make all the conversations with my son’s Teacher-san here more interesting and entertaining. To get my daughter to do any homework we had to hire a tutor for her. Her school – at least for 1st year students – actually does NOT assign much homework at all. They just expect the students to do self-study. LOL What are they thinking?!

    Thank you Beth for sharing your everyday world with us – makes my world a bit less lonely.

  4. This is an affliction of epidemic proportions…we homechool and I hear on a regular basis I forgot I was suppose to do that…
    Thanks for making it soo easy to laugh at ourselves!

  5. So I can already tell I am going to love this blog. Like a whole, whole lot. Maybe I will make you brownies and then you can send one of your kids to scrub my toilets. I don’t know how that will solve the homework problem, but I have a feeling we will each feel better.
    My 2nd grader already tries the whole “No homework” nonsense, but because she is still young enough that I know better, she never gets away it. One of these days, though, when I trust her enough to handle a hot pan, katy bar the door, because it will be all over.

    • Ashley – I’m so sorry your comment didn’t appear right away! My spam filter has a mind of its own. Don’t listen to it, though. It’s finicky.

      WELCOME. So glad you’re here. My kids can scrub your toilets anytime. 😉


  6. Ha Ha Ha

    “If my 12 y o boy child is going to remember anything at all I’d rather it be to wear deoderant”
    I love your blog and your writing. And Angela is right, teenagers can’t help it, it’s just body chemistry doing it’s thing and for a few years the brain is just not top priority.

  7. Yeah, I’ve had to call in the reinforcements on this one (ie my husband, the math and science expert). Seriously my child seems to have about 8 times as much homework as I did in middle school. What’s up with that? So tired of the drama that ensues.

  8. Welcome to the club! When I read your description of your 12 year old daughter I had a brief moment of wondering if you were actually in MY house staring at my 14 year old. At any rate, the removal of all things electronic usually keeps her in line as she already has to do toilets as part of her weekly chores. The 12 year old boy usually does his homework as the punishment for him is no gymnastics. He LIVES for gymnastics and will do anything and I mean ANYTHING to see that this is not messed with.
    I will impart to you a little tidbit that saved my sanity over the past two years. Our jr. high principal enlightened all of us parents with this bit of advice on orientation night. He said that in jr high, a lot of development goes on from the neck down and I mean A LOT. But, not much goes on from the neck up. He also urged us to keep in mind the following phrases, “I don’t know” and “I forgot”. These two phrases will probably be the most frequently uttered words we will hear over the jr high years. As long as we view these things as normal, we will get thru jr. high just fine. Worked with kid #1 and it is proving true to form with kid #2.
    Keep on keepin’ on sister! We got your back!

  9. Love this! It seems I am losing this war myself. I have 3 kids that are school age and only one of them is doing homework each night. It just so happens I just finished up a night of conferences and I found that I will have some toilet cleaners myself! They are seriously setting the stage for the baby, he is watching and learning for sure! Thanks for the laugh!

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