Homework's Supermodel Role Model
I never thought I'd say this but, on behalf of all women: God bless you, Christie Brinkley.
Sure, you've made us feel fat and unsmiley by comparison for, oh, a generation. Or two. And you've made us hate our non-bouncy hair. And you've made a lot of extremely ordinary, even SUB-ordinary men think that they should keep shopping around for a beaming busty blonde who never ages, frowns or is seen schlepping a Kohl's bag. But! All is forgiven, thanks to the demand you made in divorce court on Monday.
In order to agree to a temporary child support agreement, according to the New York Post, you insisted that your louse of a spouse promise to help the kids, 8 and 11, with their homework.
This is the shot heard round the dinner table! Married or divorced, a husband who is LEGALLY bound to sit down with those damn marble notebooks is what every woman dreams of. Forget the pool boy. Give us homework helpers!
"That's a great punishment," crowed Dina Perez, a 31-year-old mother of three, neatly nailing the issue. Homework IS punishment — if not for the kids, then certainly for the parents.
"It's horrible," says my friend Melissa. She's got girls in 4th and 7th grade and the main problem for her is plain old frustration: "If my fourth grader doesn't understand something I'm explaining in what I think is THE most perfect way, and she STILL has no idea, I'm just lost. Frustrated. Mad! How can you NOT understand the concept of 100 pennies?" Like earlier parents who threatened to send their kids to reform school, Melissa seethes, "You wanna go to the Sylvan Learning Center?'"
And then she feels bad.
Bad is just the feeling that homework breeds. Parents feel bad about helping too much, and about letting things slide, and, if they're me, they feel bad about not having cleaned the kitchen table well enough, so there's always a little translucent spot on the worksheet. But most of all, parents feel bad about having to be involved at all.
"Any good mood I have when I walked in the door goes away," says one New Jersey pal.
"Anything that would keep me out of the house from 4 to 8 would be great," agrees Marla Muni, a mother of two in Suffern.
Homework is like an awful second job — with a boss who's incredibly immature.
"My biggest problem is if the kids miss a class and I have to explain them something, you have to overcome the obstacle that you aren't as smart as the teacher," says my brilliant friend, Gigi.
On the other hand, when Gigi's husband volunteers to pitch in, "They say, 'No, Daddy. It's OK. We'll have Mommy do this.'"
So in truth, maybe the problem isn't always that dads aren't willing to chip in. It's that mothers are usually expected to solve children's problems, including the ones that begin, "If a train is traveling at 65 miles an hour … "
And then there are the times when even both parents can't solve the problem, because that's how onerous homework has become.
"We had a science fair last year," says a Manhattan mother who shall remain nameless. "My son came up with this great idea to build a tsunami tank. Well, not only could HE not build it himself, WE couldn't build it." Being uber-urbanites, however, they did come up with a solution. They had the super build it.
"It was a huge hit at the science fair," recalls the mom. But this year, she came up with a better solution: "Do it yourself."
Maybe that's what Peter Cook will say when it's time for him to help the kids with their homework. Maybe Christie will say the same. And maybe if they'd said it a couple years earlier, they would have been so happy, with so much time to enjoy each other's company, they wouldn't be in divorce court now.
Lenore Skenazy is a contributing editor at the New York Sun. To find out more about Lenore Skenazy (firstname.lastname@example.org), and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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