Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Burning the Teenage Oil

I'm not perfect. I know I must have written last minute papers. But those rose colored glasses through which we look at our pasts get in the way when I try to remember any. My rehearsal schedule (four days a week after school with performances Saturdays and Sundays) was so rigorous I really had to manage my time. 

My teenage daughter spends as much time at the stable as I did at the theatre. And in fairness to her, she is usually quite adept at getting whatever she needs to get done done.

Usually, as in almost but not always. Usually, as in definitely not last night.

Our afternoon was fairly unexceptional. I picked her up from school and asked my daily question: "What's the homework sitch?" Whatever non-answer I obtained, there certainly wasn't any indication that it would prove to be a heavier than normal workload.

We arrived home and she had a little time to kill before she had to leave for the stable. "Want to watch a How I Met Your Mother?" she asked. I was happy to put my work on hold for twenty minutes, which is all a thirty-minute episode boils down to without commercials. When it was over, I went back to my office and she headed off to her riding lesson.

Three hours or so later, she was back. By then, her father was home too and I made a quick dinner. Then, the homework began in earnest. She went upstairs while we settled in and watched a DVR'd episode of Mad Men.

As far as I knew, homework was under control.

Shows how far I knew (hint: not far at all).

Perhaps this is a problem with semantics. When I say "homework," I think of it as an all-encompassing category of any and everything that has been assigned. My daughter seems to have a narrower definition: like math problem sets or a French worksheet. 'Turns out there wasn't any homework like that. But, there was a paper due, which involved watching a two-hour documentary online and then reviewing it in a 1,000-word essay. And, I later learned, the assignment had been given the Friday before April vacation week. Also known as ten days ago.

Too bad it wasn't a science assignment because by the time I learned all the details, let's just say, sparks were flying.

Of course, the WiFi in her room was being temperamental (this is somehow always my fault or my husband's — basically whichever of us is nearby at the time). The documentary would play for about 90 seconds, then buffer for 60, then play for another 90. At this rate, forget about the review she had to write; she would still be trying to watch the thing at 5:00 am.

Super Mom sprung into action, I pulled up the documentary on all possible browsers, but had the same problem. Then I looked it up and found it available via Amazon Prime. Teenager and notebook were relocated to our family room and she was able to watch it there.

Meanwhile, my daughter was in good — or at least abundant — company. It seemed as though half her class was texting, complaining about the online video glitches. Apparently she wasn't alone in waiting until the last minute.

Somehow, I didn't find that comforting.

I went to bed at about 10:00 pm. Three-plus hours later, my daughter was in bed with her essay emailed to me for proofing. I got up a few minutes early to look at it.

Despite the drama and the late-night fire-drill, her essay was actually pretty good. She was relatively happy with my suggested edits (at 6:00 am after only four and a half hours of sleep, relatively happy was the best I was gonna get). I'm proud that she can do such capable work despite a — let's face it — half-assed process. But it makes me wonder ...

If she actually spent ten days on something that was supposed to take ten days, how much better would it have been?

There are some mysteries that will never be solved.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book  Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.  

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