Middle school is proving to be just a bit of a challenge for our resident sixth-grader. It’s not the tests (of which there have been none) or the grades (of which there have been none). It’s the whole “sitting down to work” aspect that’s throwing him for a loop. There’s just no substitute for summertime, he reminds us on an hourly basis.
Before I launch into my observations about his struggles, I must give my boy some cred. Today was a full day. Overly so, I must admit. Directly after school (Mondays! Not for wimps!) we went bowling. We had a date with friends set up and planned to leave right from the school pick-up line and head out for our afternoon of fun. But a few days ago I discovered that there was also a big Boy Scout cook off today, which meant that the boys would get dropped back off at school by me on our way home from bowling. Which would mean they hadn’t been home to change and or exhale since 8 this morning. Too, too much.
But there was no avoiding it, it’s not a regular scheduling glitch, so we decided to just leave it as is. Which meant dealing with a lot of homework at a late hour which, let’s all admit, is a giant pain in the pratt.
So tonight, post-cook off and bowling extravaganza, there we sat. Me, Paul and our dear boy Augie gathered around the table to enjoy a late night snack and the woes of homework at nine fifteen.
“I can’t do this,” lamented the boy.
“Yes you can,” I replied.
“No I can’t,” he countered.
“Son,” I said, climbing up onto my soapbox, “school is your job. This is what you do and your payment for your job is food and clothes and a nice place to sleep. If you don’t do your job, I shall be forced to return your nice tennis shoes we just bought you.”
“I don’t want a job,” said Augie. Which, look, I get. Who wants to think about having a job that requires math and geography and boring old grammar. At 9:15 at night? No one.
“Well if you don’t do this properly you can’t get a real job when you grow up,” said Paul.
“I’m not getting a real job,” said Augie.
“Um, what’s your plan for the future,” I asked.
“To live here,” said my son.
“How’s that,” I asked.
“I’ll live in a small room under the stairs,” said Augie with what I’m nervous to report involved very little contemplation on his part. It was like he had thought about this many times before. Like he had been crunching the square footage since the first grade and that in the years since then he’d added on blueprints for an expansion of the existing closet to include a tiny armoire, nightstand with lamp and a hole for the cable line.
“You’re going to live in a room under the stairs,” I asked, sizing up in my mind just how much space he would actually need. As if, I added, you’re going to let this come to pass.
“And what,” I added, coming to my senses, “will you do all day?”
“Stay out of your way,” said Augie, before we sent him up the stairs and told him he could finish his homework in the morning.