Now I don’t remember if she called my father or not- She ought to have- but she sent me home with a planner that he had to sign along with a long note detailing how I hadn’t done an assignment in months and that I needed my report card signed. I think she also talked to my older brother to make sure I followed through to my own doom.
My father worked as a prison teacher and was active in the Army at the time. I’m not certain if he was a full time soldier or a part time, but I know he had his Captain’s bars and I assume spending all day teaching people who could easily kill him at any time every day had him somewhat on edge.
My mother lived in another part of the county and it happened to be dad’s month with the joint custody. I remember calling mom from dad’s kitchen in a flurry of emotions, crying and pleading, giving the first of many “I screwed up, mom” speeches.
When my father came home- I can remember this part- total fear pulsed through me. I don’t know if any of you have had the experience of being a soldier’s son/daughter/offspring-person but it has a lasting effect on how you conduct your life from early childhood. I was absolutely terrified of that man who now doesn’t loom overhead like he used to. All I can remember is a lot of screaming, and sitting on the floor well into the night with dad watching me do every single assignment. My hands hurt, I’m sure my butt did too with the hard-wood floor.
When it was done he grounded me from TV and having friends over for an indefinite amount of time. I think it lasted somewhere between six months and a year before I could once again watch TV.
Now if I could tell you that I picked my ass up and did my homework every day from that moment on I would. But I know I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t have proper homework ethics until…. Ahh that’s right- 2017 fall semester.
I know I became a good student for the rest of third grade, because my teacher and I had a fond relationship. But I remember my fourth grade teacher explained multiple times to my parents that I was not living up to my potential- and in fifth grade I distinctly remember a teacher practically begging me to just do the damned homework.
I can’t tell you why I avoided homework as a kid- maybe it has more to do with an education system focused on paperwork and doing things that aren’t in the slightest bit enjoyable over and over- maybe it was my relationship with my parents. Who knows.
But the clear message is that the punishment was only a temporary fix to my homework habits. I had not yet found joy in what we were doing in class with plenty of distracting interesting problems at home- and teachers who probably didn’t care so much. I never had a reason to love the subjects.
The punishment only served to force me back in line until the punishment was over. And dad, if you’re reading this, that year without TV is probably among the many reasons I read today; so thanks for that gift.