It's midnight on Monday and I'm ready to call it a night, but my daughter is hunkered down over her school books for at least another hour. She's been that way more or less since she got home from school and softball practice. It's like this every night. I hit the sack, while she hits the books.
There's something about this that fills me with tremendous sadness. I don't object to homework overload for the usual reasons, although stealing childhoods and wasting time with busy work are both decent arguments. No, I'm OK with the concept because I do see a value in daily homework as a way for kids to learn to be self-disciplined and accustomed to independent study. It's a habit that will come in handy when they reach high school and college.
The real reason I dread these late nights of homework is that my daughters are absorbing the idea that there is no divide between work and home. They're hopping on that hamster wheel before they've even reached puberty, and I fear they will be on it until the day they die.
I'm their worst role model. I bring work home all the time. Rarely does a night go by when I'm not on my laptop, finishing a project, checking my email, meeting a deadline.
In exchange for the empty promise of mobility and flexibility, technology has played a dirty trick on us moms and totally obliterated the line between work and home. I bring work home so I can spend more time with my family, but I'm usually multi-tasking when I'm with them. And because I'm tethered to work on my smart phone, there's an unspoken expectation that I will always be partially tuned in to its demands at all times. The virtual office never closes.
Is this the message children get as they wade through their homework night after night? Get used to it now, kiddos, because that's how it's going to be for the rest of your lives?
Just one day I'd like to see a homework assignment that really teaches my kids something valuable: How to disconnect.