All Work and No Play

I know I’m supposed to be writing a birthday post about my brand new 12-year-old boy (yes, Vincenzo had a birthday), but I can’t!  I’m too stressed out about all the homework he has to do since starting middle school!  This poor, sweet boy of mine comes home from school each day at 3, sets himself up at the counter with his laptop and a stack of lined paper, and works right until dinner.  As soon as dinner is over, he heads back to the counter to keep doing homework.  Tonight even that wasn’t enough; he is staying up an hour past bedtime to get it all finished.


The weekends don’t get any easier—this weekend he had four math assignments to do, one book report to start, one science quiz review sheet to fill out, a monologue to memorize for play tryouts, and a friggin’ crossbow to build for social studies.  As I was fretting about how he was going to get it all done, he looked on-line and said, “Oh, and I have to write a five-paragraph essay by Monday.”

Vincenzo, for his part, is handling it all very well, and though he does get close to tears sometimes he always reins himself back in and gets to work again.  It just breaks my heart to see that overnight, he has had to give up playing.  He used to spend his afternoons turning the basement into a gigantic pillow for with his brothers or creating some decked out ship out of a mess of Legos or nestled under a blanket, reading three books at a time.

I miss elementary school.  I miss my little boy!  If I ever go back to teaching, I am going to make it my thing to never assign homework unless absolutely unavoidable.

Anyway, sorry there are no LOLs today.  I just hope things get easier for Vincenzo…for my sake!

Crock pot roast beef with potatoes & carrots
Leftover chocolate sprinkle birthday cake

3 thoughts on “All Work and No Play

  1. Happy Birthday V! I would like to say it gets better, but I think it depends on the school, the child, and how motivated said child is to get good grades. My eldest seemed to have a bit of a photographic memory and late nights were generally before a big project or a big test. For the most part, it served her well. My youngest started middle school off on a different foot. She would get home at either 3:30 or 4:45 (after volleyball practice) and would begin homework. Except for us making her join us for dinner, she would keep going, often until 11:30p.m. Trick-or-treating became a thing of the past not because she felt like she was too old, but because she had too much homework. Winter and Spring breaks were NOT homework-free. HOWEVER, I don’t tell you this to make you feel worse. This girl is going places! Sophomore year she was Student Council President (at her campus — our high school is split into Fr/Soph at one campus and Jr/Sr. at the other). She started a new club in the district; the Army Star Program, because she saw a deficit in our district and made the phone calls and did the research to fix it. She was invited to go to Camp Ryla, a leadership camp for teens sponsored by the Rotary Club last spring. And on Monday she has an interview with Senator Al Franken’s staff to be a intern for him when he’s in MN. She has plans for herself and isn’t afraid to do the work to make it happen. She works harder than anyone I know!
    That being said, it was in 7th grade that we had her eyes evaluated by an optomotrist who does vision therapy. We found that she has something called “convergence insufficiency”, which means her eyes didn’t naturally adjust from being parallel when she looked at something far away and then looked at something near. It can cause headaches, spacing out, and is most-often diagnosed as ADHD. For her, it meant that she read a LOT more slowly than her peers, often re-read the same line or word multiple times, and as a result had lower comprehension. By the end of therapy, the doc said her eyes were “running like a Ferrari”, but she still has comprehension troubles (4 years later) and doesn’t read quite as quickly as her peers.
    The amount of homework kids get is intense, but sometimes it’s a sign that they aren’t getting work done at school. When our pre-teens and teens are determined to get it all done it’s a good sign! They have grit! This is good news You are raising a successful child!

  2. Thanks for such a thoughtful reply, Margaret! It’s so fun to hear someone else’s story on my blog. Vincenzo’s woes this year are due to a bum teacher (everyone in his class is in this same boat), but we’ve got a plan to make it better if it doesn’t resolve on its own. If the workload doesn’t get any better we’re just going to cut him off of homework at the one hour mark so he can go play. Now that he has had a month with almost no play, I see more than ever how important play is in my boys’ lives!

  3. You are so welcome Rachel! That sounds very excessive for one teacher and you have an excellent plan! I’m sure you’ve read (and thanks to our parents having similar values) experienced how very important play is to brain development! Peace and luck this year!

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