The whining has been going on for some time, but it came to a head on Monday. I can see that Jacob is learning so much more for history by reading a book (Stalin: Man of Steel, by Albert Marrin at the moment), yet he complains it’s too much. Everything I give him is “too much,” but reading for history especially irks him.
“All I give you is 20 pages of reading for history,” I explained. “You said it takes you an hour to read 20 pages. That is your class work for the day: read the 20 pages. Then for English, read another 20 pages in another hour. Believe me, the reason you’re doing schoolwork ’round the clock is because you’re staring out the window, chasing the cat, squirting water on the wood-burning stove to ‘raise humidity’… You don’t work continuously. I’m always hunting you down and telling you to get back to work! In school, you sat through your classes, and whether you paid attention or not, class was over in 50 minutes. Here you have to work for the 50 or 60 minutes per subject.
“You were in school from 7:30 AM until 2:30 PM with, say, an hour for lunch. That’s six hours of school. Then you always had homework,” I said, frustrated by Jacob’s complaints and by his poor time management. “You don’t have more. You’re just not managing your time well.”
Jacob’s younger sister once said that she could do the work I assign him in two hours; he spends all day at it, all evening, and then takes a book to bed to “catch up.” And indeed, I do believe that Larissa could do the work in two hours. She’s that fast a worker. She rarely has homework not because she doesn’t have assignments, but because she finishes them in school or on the school bus. She’ll even use an extra 5 or 10 minutes of unproductive class time to do her homework assignments. Jacob, on the other hand, stretches out the smallest assignment by playing with the cat or finding a variety of other distractions.
He angrily took the list of assignments and put a time against each item:
It added up to 8 hours 25 minutes – which equaled his former six hours of school and two-and-a-half hours of homework. I didn’t even mention that I work eight hours per day for my company; look over his schoolwork, schedule assignments, and read books until I can’t hold my eyes open so that I know what to assign him; and I cook supper. So how many hours do I “work”? Life is not about having fun.
My husband was listening to all this, and he challenged Jacob: “You take the timer. Set it going when you’re doing schoolwork. Shut it off every time you stop – when you add wood to the stove, when you go to the bathroom, or if you take a break. Then let’s see how much time you really spend on schoolwork.”
Jacob did that yesterday. For all his complaining, the timer read 6 hours and 20 minutes.