Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Does this ever happen at your house?

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate the end of a certain large event that we won’t talk about anymore. While enjoying our dinner (which was awesome, by the way.  Mimi’s cafe rocks!  Great service and they let us use gift certificates for ALL FIVE kids’ meals!), the subject of homework came up, and we learned that two of my children had major assignments that were due the next day.

One child said that he was writing a report on Galapagos tortoises, but assured me that had done most of the assignment already, and it was on his flash drive.  Oops–did you mean the flash drive that you currently can’t find?  Good luck with that.

The other child was supposed to do a book report on a biography.  She had chosen to read a book about Michelle Kwan.  So, on the way home, I asked that child to tell us all about Michelle Kwan to prepare her brain for the book report she had yet to write.  She told us that Michelle had started skating at age 6, that her inspiration was her hockey playing brother (or maybe it was cousin.  Anyway, someone played hockey), and that she had won some competition when she was 13.  The end.  Hmmm.  “Did she go to the Olympics?”  I asked.  “I don’t know.  I haven’t finished the book” she says.  It’s a good thing it was dark in the car, so she couldn’t see the smoke coming out of my ears.

When we got home from our lovely dinner, I assigned the Galapagos writer to work on my computer, and the Michelle Kwan biographer to come and dictate what she wanted to say to me in Dad’s office.  Then the real drama began.  She couldn’t FIND the book on Michelle Kwan, and when pressed, she admitted that she had only read two chapters.  She then decided to do the report on Harry Houdini, since she also had his biography there.  I left her to read and do some research for about a half an hour while I went to go cool down and watch 30 Rock (hilarious, by the way).  Twenty minutes later, I came to check on them.  It’s about bedtime by this time.  I check report boy, and he’s got ONE WHOLE PARAGRAPH done, and one picture.  Biographer girl has finished the first chapter.

I lost it.

I did a great job of making them both feel horribly guilty that they a-hadn’t mentioned that they had these assignments, and b-hadn’t started working on it until now.  I made sure that they both knew they were destined to fail their respective classes and would only be qualified to work at a gas station if they kept up this pattern of behavior.  Not my finest moment.  I went off to put the other children to bed, not knowing what to do with these two.

After teeth brushing, stories and prayers with the other three, I came back to see what, if anything, I could do to help my two slackers not fail.  We decided to do a timeline of Houdini’s life, and I asked her to write down the important dates from his life that she had read about (birth, death, marriage, important events, etc.).  She came up with about 10, and with a little help from me, we got the dates right, printed a few pictures from the old internet, and got a reasonably decent time line put together by 9:30.  I sent her off to bed.

Galapagos boy had pulled it together and done a halfway decent report, complete with 3 or 4 pictures.  When I read it through, I was pretty sure that he had put it in his own words and not just done a cut and paste job from the internet.  (Especially the part about “these turtles are important because if they weren’t there, the sailors wouldn’t have had anything to eat”).  I encouraged a few changes, put new color ink in the printer so the pictures wouldn’t look all striped, made sure he had an appropriate bibliography and had covered all the points listed in the assignment sheet.  I gave him a folder to put it in, then told him to go to bed when he was done.

I dragged myself up to bed.  Exhausted.  Feeling like a failure, myself.

I know this little crisis could have been handled better, but I’m not exactly sure how.  I just want my kids to be successful, responsible people, and part of that is getting good grades, turning things in when they are due, and not leaving big assignments until the very last second.  I also don’t want to be the tyrant mother that my kids are afraid of and they don’t want to admit anything because they know their mom will jump all over them.  I want to be the nice, understanding mom.  The mom who helps them through the tough times, not the mom who yells at them for causing their own tough times.  I guess maybe I was a little bit of both last night.


  1. Well, I don’t have kids in the book report age range yet but I’m pretty sure I would have reacted the same way you did.

    Oh and 30 Rock is always hilarious!

  2. 30 Rock was hilarious. Thankfully my kids are still young enough that I can boss them around with no quesitons asked.

  3. Thanks, Summer and Janice for reminding me that I’m OLD. I SO appreciate that!

  4. Nope. Sorry. Neeeever happened to me. And just so you know, I’m always patient and understanding, never giving in to the dark side of “why do you have to ruin BOTH of our lives at the same time?”

  5. I’ve learned to always ask about homework like this: Do you have any homework tonight? AND do you have any projects coming up?

    I ask like that every day after several unfortunate incidents (including a 28 night moon journal) very much like yours.

    Keep the faith, sistah.

  6. Well, I guess more questions – every night – might help. Perhaps you already do that, and they don’t fess up. I think they’re lucky to have you for a mom because you helped them be successful, which they wouldn’t have been if left to their own devices. Wonder how come they don’t realize that.

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