The Friday before winter break Leta came home from school wild-eyed and bursting with anticipation. Fourteen school-free days lay in front of her, and in the excitement of it all she forgot to tell me that her teacher had given her homework. Her teacher might know about this website, but that is not going to stop me from saying MINUS TEN POINTS FOR YOU, MR. H.
I was going to say that someone should take his favorite Hawaiian t-shirt and shred it right in front of him, but then I’d get a call from the school and next thing you know I’m fired. So I’m not going to say that.
But I’m thinking about it SO HARD.
We were driving to my mother’s house for New Year’s Eve when I heard Leta sniffling from the backseat. I turned my head quickly to find her crying and wiping tears from underneath her glasses.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked while trying to focus on traffic.
“It’s just… I mean…” she mumbled. She’d had a friend sleepover the night before, and they’d stayed up several hours past her normal bedtime. I happen to know a thing or two about fatigue and how it can serve as a fun house mirror when it comes to life’s tiniest stresses, so I reached my hand back to hold hers.
“What’s going on?” I pressed.
“It’s just that I haven’t started on my homework, and I have to get it done, and it’s just so not fair!”
“Wait, what? WHAT? You have homework? He gave you homework?”
“Yes!” she yelled, comforted by our shared disbelief. “Who does that? Who gives homework over Christmas?”
CURRENT STATUS: FURIOUSLY SHREDDING HAWAIIAN T-SHIRT
“What do you have to do? How much did he give you?”
“Several pages of social studies, and then I have to write a report on some colony and then all those reading log worksheets! I’m never going to get it done! What if I don’t get it done?”
She was sobbing at this point.
“Hey, listen” I said in an attempt to calm her down. “You don’t need to worry about that today or tonight, okay? We’re going to have a great time, and you don’t even need to think about it. And then this weekend I’ll sit down with you and we will get it done, okay?”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“I’m sure. We’re a team, remember?”
OH LOOK SEVERAL HUNDRED TINY PIECES OF A HAWAIIAN T-SHIRT ALL OVER THE GROUND OOPS.
One of the most valuable skills I’ve developed as a parent is something I learned here, from you, you who have reached your hand out to mine to share in my disbelief, to assure me that I am not alone when the fun house mirror is distorting the landscape.
I think a lot of us, myself included, find ourselves heavy with the minutia of our hectic lives and desperately want to respond to exclamations of THIS ISN’T FAIR with LET ME TROT OUT 700,000 OTHER THINGS THAT WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE CLEAR DEFINITION OF WHAT IS AND IS NOT FAIR. When sometimes, if we stop to listen and consider, that exclamation is the only way our children know how to say, “Right now I’m feeling hopeless.”
Because I didn’t write that report for her, and I didn’t fill out those seven pages of social studies questions, and I most certainly didn’t read for four straight hours on a Friday night so that I could complete three separate worksheets the following morning.
ALL OF THE HAWAIIAN T-SHIRTS.
She did all of that herself. She got all of it done. She just needed me to acknowledge what she was feeling to make space for the momentum to do so.