The next day you go to pick up your child and the first thing it asks you is: "Do I have to clean my teeth tonight?"
This is what evenings with Grace are like, except that her question is: "Do I have to do my homework tonight?"
To be clear: Grace's teacher does not give her masses of homework. What she does give her amounts to about half an hour on four nights a week. Or an hour on Sundays and maybe ten minutes for four nights a week. Subjects she must do can include spelling, story-writing, reading comprehension, maths, reading, occasional history or special subject assignments. Then there's piano and guitar practice. Some of these things take her five minutes. Some of them mean both of us sitting down together for an hour and a half.
There are many and varied reasons for Grace to detest some of the homework she sometimes has to do, many of which are related to her having AS and have been touched on already in previous entries here. I am glad the school gives her homework. I think it's necessary for her to learn, it's a good discipline and much of it is enjoyable. She loves singing and playing music and doesn't want to give up learning her instruments.
But the daily task of getting her to accept that she's got to do it is driving me mad. That sentence doesn't do justice to how it feels. It's not just mad like: arg this again. It's mad like proper, ancient, deep-in-the-brain lunacy. It's mad like the dark places poets and criminals and people in scary films go. It's mad like Sylvia Plath's wild, bald moon and the Joker's rictus grin.
Sometimes I feel like running out of the house even as I'm thinking how much I missed her while I was at work.
Today to calm myself as Grace raged I counted up the number of days left in which I have to do this. It's two weeks til the end of term. There won't be any homework next week and most of this week's is done. So really I've probably only got one more night of this. I calculated that so far this school year we have had homework negotiations on 196 nights. No -- take off Fridays -- that's 156 nights, or 156 hours if I average out the length of time we reason or row. 6.5 days. So, nearly a week of madness.
Put in that context, I've had another 51 weeks which are better, fine or even great.
So what am I complaining about?
Year Five starts in September. We can do it.