Many years after I was FDASL© in Da City, I was a Dad. (In my opinion, my most important job). I had four children with my wife, She Who Would Become The Plaintiff. Our daughter, referred to herein as Brenda, was a lovely girl, but, unsurprisingly, was a typical pre-adolescent.
One fine day, The Wife received a phone call from the school, relating that Brenda was failing Science class. We interviewed Brenda, attempting to understand what might be preventing this child from comprehending the material in her class that, to be honest, was not all that complicated. I mean, it was fifth grade science, in a podunk little school district.
We learned, after The Wife had detail-searched Brenda’s book-bag, that she, Brenda, had not been turning in her homework assignments. Oh, Hell Naw! That simply would not do! The Wife and I decided that, since I worked midnights, I would be the nominated for the role of Science Class Homework Monitor.
I phoned the school and learned that Mrs. Science Class was in her classroom yet, and would be happy to discuss Brenda’s failing with me. Off Brenda and I went.
I asked Mrs. Science Class if our appraisal was on target.
“Well, yes. Brenda has not been handing in her homework assignments.”
“Do you have these assignments? I mean, in a form that I, her father, could use to have Brenda perform this homework?”
“Well, yes I do. You do realize, Brenda is not going to receive credit for this work, do you not?”
“Yep. I don’t care about credit. Brenda, here, is going to perform these assignments, and I will check them for accuracy, and completeness. Then, I will check her spelling and grammar.”
Mrs. Science Class informed me, gently, “I do not check spelling, or grammar.”
I smiled. “How interesting. I do. Once I have corrected those items, Brenda, here, will do the assignment over again, until she gets all that correct. Then I will grade for neatness.”
Mrs. Science again offered, “I do not grade on neatness.”
Again, I replied. “How nice. I, however, do, and Brenda will repeat the assignment until she meets my standards of neatness. Then, she will do the next assignment, meeting all those standards, until she had completed every one, in it’s entirety, to my thorough satisfaction. Then she will deliver them to you for final grading.”
Mrs. Science Class looked at me, her head sort of half-cocked to one side, as if she were a beagle watching me cook something in the kitchen, and she repeated herself. “You know, Mr. Stretcher Ape, Brenda is not going to receive credit for all this work, don’t you?”
“Yep, you told me that, and I really do not care.”
“You do not care?”
“Nope. So, Mrs. Science Class, do you assign homework simply for your own entertainment?”
“You have a plan of instruction, and homework is a part of that plan? Homework is part of the process by which children acquire an education, correct?”
She nodded. “Correct.”
I leaned forward, intensity in my speech. “Mrs. Science class, my daughter may or may not get the credit: I really do not care. What I care very much about, and what her mother agrees with me completely on, is the fact that our child is going to get the education. Full stop.”
She leaned back. “You know, I do not have this sort of conversation with parents, very often at all!”
I showed her my wolf grin. “That, Mrs. Science Class, is not Brenda’s problem. If she ever, again, so long as she breathes, fails to turn in her homework, in full, on time, and satisfactorily neat and legible, then every single assignment that she may have, I will correct. For completeness. For accuracy. For correctness. For neatness. For spelling. For grammar and syntax. And, she will do those assignments that I find unsatisfactory, over, and over, and over again, until I am satisfied with them.
Or, she could simply turn in her work, to you, on time and complete, to be graded as you see fit.
You see, I am willing to be Brenda’s problem, for so long as she desires it. She will let me know she desires it, by not doing her damned work.”
For those of you who care, my daughter finished high school, and then worked her way through her baccalaureate degree, working full time, with a child, as a single mother. And worked her way through her MBA degree, working full time, with three children, as a single mother. I take some, small pride in her accomplishments.
But, SHE did all the work. In full. On time. And completely. Because she is an Adult Woman.