On homework and ready obedience

And so today marks one full week since we’ve been back to school.

And I’m exhausted.

As I commented on another blog, this whole return to school deal caught me unprepared. All of a sudden, with what seems like little or no advance notice, I find myself sitting in car line, rushing to soccer practice and racking my brain in the wee hours of the morning (6 am) trying to remember who likes strawberry jelly in their PB&J and who prefers apple. I told someone I feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end of the pool only to discover I’ve forgotten how to swim!

Yesterday when I picked up number three son, I asked my usual “Do you have any homework?” “Nope” was his FIRST answer. Then he reconsidered. “A little science. Oh yeah, and some math.”

This is good. I like homework. Really, I do. I want my kids to learn the discipline doing their homework requires. The son in question went a whole year last year–fourth grade–with no homework, a fact which will have repercussions evident in the rest of this story…

So, we arrived home after spending I-won’t-tell-you-how-long in car line. He watched a little tv and after a couple of gentle reminders, he sat down to his homework at the kitchen table.

There is a problem.

The science folder is still in his locker at school. Being the good mom that I am, we hop in the car, rush off to the school, mercifully find an unlocked door, and retrieve the necessary folder from his locker.

All is well in Fifth Grade Homework Land.


He finishes his science work and begins his math homework only to discover…you guessed it…the math folder is…no, I kid you not…in his locker at school.

Where it remained.

I will spare you the details of the ensuing lecture on retrieving the necessary folders corresponding to the assignments written in the planner.

By virtue of the good memory genes he inherited from his mother, he remembers the math assignment. Completing it is another matter. Keep in mind, this is the son who went a whole year (maybe more–who can remember third grade?) without homework. While perfectly capable, he doesn’t want to do the work. He HATES doing the work. He would rather sit at the kitchen table and whine and complain than do the work. He finally pushes all the mommy’s buttons and engages in a yelling match over doing the work.

I tried to tell him that it’s far easier (for us all!) just to do the work. It has to be done, whether he likes it or or not. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth only makes the process longer and even more miserable.

He finally completed his work, but it was not pleasant for those involved.

As frustrated as I was with him, I realized he is a lot like me. Sometimes there are unpleasant things that must be done. Sometimes I hate it, the thing I must do. Sometimes I’d rather complain and cry than just do it. Like my boy, I need to learn the discipline of doing the hard thing. Because I must. Because my Lord asks it of me. And because there is great joy in ready obedience to Him.


Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

15 thoughts on “On homework and ready obedience”

  1. My son and your son yesterday on the math–i.d.e.n.t.i.c.a.l. Ouch! It was a tense time here as well. Finally as we worked through all the “stuff”, the Lord reminded me of a verse from Proverbs 25:28, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”I told him that his lack of self-control (self-discipline) had made him a city without walls and the enemies of grumbling, disobedience and the whiny lot had run him over. That gave him the picture he needed to hear. We spent some time talking about how God intends for him to be a godly young man with strong walls to fight off such enemies.Today was better. Tomorrow is another day.

  2. And we just had a sermon on self-control this past Sunday. We all have a lot to learn in this area I think. I’m glad you can see beyond the tension of the everyday to what the Holy Spirit is reinforcing and teaching…

  3. As someone said to me the other day: “Ugh! This parenting thing isn’t fun any more!” LOL! But we sure do develop quite the character while trying! LOL! Hugs to you and your son!

  4. I dread school starting next week. Because high school is out of control on the homework. Last year my boy spent 90% of his nights doing homework from the time he got home until he went to bed. Except for eating dinner. And this is a diligent, organized, hard worker.I bet those teachers didn’t want to take home work every night and have no life!

  5. Oh man, Lisa…. I’m not a mom, but I am a student…and I can imagine the sheer disgust that would well up in me if I left not one, but two homework projects back at school. Gah… One thing I’ll say for moms: they’re incredibly forgiving. Even if a “yelling” match ensues, rarely if ever does the mom hold it against their littluns. Thanks, Moms. 🙂 (Oh, fyi: I just recently found you through 5 Minutes. You’re on my blogroll now. 🙂 )

  6. I hear ya’. My oldest is in sixth grade now. My Word … the homework! She does homework for about two hours. I don’t ever remember doing that much homework. We also struggle with her with the responsibility thing. She has determined that she will be organized this year. So far, so good! She has been organized and not forgotten a thing for four whole days. We’re praying she keeps it up.Thanks for visiting my blog. Nice to meet you.

  7. When I first glanced at your post last night (didn’t get to finish it) – there was much wailing and gnashing going on in this home, as well. With our 5th grader. Not over homework this time (but it could’ve been anything.) Thank the Lord for a new day!

  8. That is a great comparison, Lisa. I too find myself doing everything but, fighting against doing something when if I’d just get to it it would be so much easier.My son also had a teacher in grade 3 who assigned no homework, and was grade 4 ever hard for him in that area.

  9. Oh, the first week or two of school will leave me with the same feelings and experiences, I fear. Camden despises the homework routine and it always takes *hours* longer than it should, simply because of the procrastination and whining and complaining. If he just *did it*, it would be over quickly and we could be on to better things. Sigh…But, like you, I see much of myself in him. How often I procrastinate. And whine. And complain. Instead of just doing whatever it is I should be doing.

  10. We are fond of saying ‘slow obedience is no obedience’, yet like your son, I’ve been dragging my feet all week.I think this is hard for all of us – I am currently going for the gold medal in procrastination …. I have a mountain of ironing to face, yet here I sit! I’d better get up and just do the hard thing! Thanks for a timely reminder – we all need it!

  11. Though my children are now grown ~ WOW ~ do I remember the days. I home schooled my oldest and I think he always left his ‘homework at school’ if you know what I mean.The “sweet” discussions we would have!I sit here today and remember the moments and actually long for those times again. They grow up so quickly.If our children could just know what we have learned: that obedience brings with it such freedom.Have a great weekend.Blessings, Cindy

  12. Girl, you are living my life! While I welcome the start of another school year (translation: time to myself), I, too, hate the hassle of organizing and keeping my passle of children in stride. It’s exhausting and the husband? No help. He can’t help it. Not really. I’m raising 3 just like him. Oh dear. Thank heavens for the caboose, Miss Priss, who needs no reminders about homework and keeping up with her stuff. It’s a trade off really, but one I’m willing to make if I can have at least one hour of quiet in my day.peace~elaine

  13. We are sort of in the same boat here. Thankfully though, last year prepared my now 6th grader to deal with homework. One of his 5th grade teachers piled the HW on. It was unbelieveable. So hopefully he’s prepared to handle it this year. So far it hasn’t been too bad but we are only on day 4!BTW- have you read John Rosemond’s “Ending the Homework Hassle”? I have it but haven’t read it yet but I do plan to. ANYTHING to help!!!

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