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My Favorite Little Kettle

This Coach purse might be a little too pink. And a LOT too four hundred freakin dollars.

Maisy is a lollygagger. Maisy is a fibberty-gibbett. Maisy sits at the kitchen table and swings her feet and looks at things with her big blue eyes and accomplishes nothing. She cannot stay on task. She cannot stay in her seat. She gets up and talks to the cat, goes to see if the thing on the floor is a fuzz ball or a terrible insect, goes to get water, goes to pee, goes anyplace just to be going, and comes back and sits and swings her feet more and stares around with her big eyes.

Week one, the child made twenty minutes of homework last THREE HOURS. Then complained she had no FREE TIME. I said, β€œYou had two hours and forty minutes of free time, and you used it to sit and swing your feet and stare at your homework without actually doing any of it.”

I have learned that in order to make her homework happen, I have to police it. We sit down. We pick a task. I set a time. I threaten DIRE CONSEQUENCES. I wait the required time. If the task is incomplete or sloppy, WE THROW IT AWAY, and she redoes the task in the same amount of time.

The first two times, I took her half-finished task away and put it right in the trash. Then she realized I actually meant it. By week three, if I stood over her with blazing eyes and set the microwave timer, we could together finish twenty minutes worth of homework in forty five minutes. Here in week four, I haven’t eaten her yet, and twice we have done twenty minutes worth of homework in under half an hour. I am winning.

I am ignoring the fact that I have spent all morning, ALL MORNING, internet shopping for wildly over-priced orange purses while upstairs, chapter 9 of my WIP lies in chunks on my floor, bleeding out. *swings feet* *looks at purses* *accomplishes nothing*

22 comments to My Favorite Little Kettle

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the laugh, I needed it. I like that purse, but you’re right, it’s not four hundred dollars worth of pretty.

  • Aimee

    Sounds like the flibberty-gibbet didn’t fall far from the lollygagger. πŸ˜‰

  • laura

    I hate it when I see my least desirable traits in my girls. But, hey, we all still have nice personalities!

  • I like that idea of tossing the homework. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do it, but I’m mighty tempted! I got yet another email from my 6th graders teacher about missing homework. I’m definitely breaking out the timer and homework time is going to get a LOT more structured. He will NOT like it.

  • My boy is the same way. . .except he is a day-dreamer. . .or he talks about Legos. *sigh*

  • Ha!

    Also, you are a good mom and when Maisy is in law school and has to do 23,058,340,534 hours of reading and other homework per week, she will thank you. (Well, maybe not, but she will at least have the skills necessary to cope.)

  • I don’t remember how old your daughter is, but when my daughter went thru the exact same thing re: homework, we figured it out–she was incredibly out of her mind BORED. She pretty much taught herself 2nd grade (and that was at a private school). We switched schools to one that challenged her and voila! problems gone. Well, at least until she became a hormonal teenager πŸ˜‰

    We did everything you’re doing and nothing worked until we were out of our minds as well and I said, in desperation to hubby, “maybe she’s just bored”. The teacher let her work ahead and all was much better.


  • My son is the same (ok, more talking about video games and legos than swinging feet) but otherwise the same. Almost combusts before my eyes if I tell him to start over/fix messy work but will sit and stall. He has a perfectly good desk upstairs in his room where he can shut the door but if he goes up there, his brother bugs him OR he actually shuts and locks the door. And plays with legos.
    So he sits in the kitchen. Where I must either sit with him (despite the toddler, the dog, the dishes, the laundry, the WIP) or he will not stay and do it.
    So I breathe and wait patiently until school hours and naptime so I can finally revise the WIP. That time has arrived–and I am here. And on my email. And internet shopping, too.

  • Jenn

    Tgat sounds like a great technique! Throw in some whining about how hard the homework is and how she hates homework and you’d have my little lollygagger who is about the same age as Maisey. We’re only 2 days in to the school year and 4 days home from a massive vacation/move extravaganza so I’m being patient and kind. For now.

  • Haley

    Hey, Maisy sounds a lot like me in college. I would make a five page paper last enough time to write a twenty-page paper by calling my sister, taking breaks to read JUST ONE CHAPTER of a book, deciding that I needed a snack and that it absolutely had to be something homemade, therefore requiring an hour of my time instead of five minutes, etc. It is truly a wonder that I ever finished a forty-page thesis.

    And here I am with my unfinished MS in front of me, adding things to my amazon cart, deciding we need homemade bread, brushing the cat, and generally ignoring the writing.

    Things don’t change much.

  • My mother made my brother sit on the floor with his back against the kitchen island and staring at a blank refrigerator in order to do his homework. It was the only way to get him to focus.

  • But as an adult, you’ve learned to (mostly) get done what you need to, by when it needs to be. That’s what she’ll need to learn, and ultimately without you standing there. Good luck!

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    I am also a purse/bag person and am always coveting some sort of messenger bag or tote. My latest is a J.Jill soft leather tote. MUST HAVE IT!

  • buffi

    I LOVE this plan for getting homework done. I plan to implement it next week and hope to possibly accomplish the writing of 12 spelling words in less than a half hour. Yes, I dream BIG.

  • KC

    Some people have success giving their child a clipboard and letting them walk while working. With Maisy, a pretty pink translucent one might be charming.

    But the homework is in fact a waste – research is very strong that homework in elementary school neither promotes achievement or builds character. You don’t need research to know it causes untold grief. I’m a parent too and I make my kids do their homework too, but I don’t feel good about it…

  • Jill W.

    Well, you are doing better than my 14 year old nephew who is failing G/T English, despite his big giant brain and the fact that is, you know, his native language!!! And despite the fact that he was already forced to repeat the 7th grade for just a flat out refusal to do homework. So frustrating!!!!

  • I have nothing nice to say about homework.

    But that purse? Hmmm … there’s lots of shiny on ebay, too! πŸ˜‰

  • […] there’s Joshilyn Jackson’s Faster Than Kudzu. Joshilyn is a novelist who blogs hilariously about family, writing, cute shoes, a beagle named […]

  • I realize that nowhere in your post did you ask for advice on Maisy and her homework situation, I’m going to go ahead and force my way into your comments section and offer some.. just cause it’s kind of my especiallity! I’m a homeschool mom who has survived 12 years of one of the most alternative learners on this planet. He will graduate this year, and he couldn’t be a better student (despite what it looks like)..

    I agree 100% with headacheslayer. Boredom plays a huge roll in flibberty-gibbiting and lollygagging whilst doing homework. Anytime this started, we upped the ante and made things a bit harder, and work then became a puzzle and a challenge and we were good.. until he became bored again.

    Also, consider this. It sounds like while Maisy has inherited your lollygagging, it’s probably more accurate to say she inherited your Right Brainedness. The Right Brain controls all that creativity, language, art, music, movement, etc.. while the Left Brain is doing all the math, science, grammar, etc… Your Right Brain writes amazing stories, but it’s your Left Brain that actually can deal with where commas go. Now, here’s the thing about the Right Brain.. It holds the Left Brain hostage at times. It constantly demands to be entertained and engaged, and we give in to this demanding Right Brain and, for lack of a better word, distract it, then the Left Brain is free to solve math equations and discover algorithms heretofore undiscovered!

    So with that in mind, don’t underestimate the power of listening to music during a homework session, (music soothes the savage right brain, don’t you know!) Or, if the need is to move, sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. The right brain will focus on balancing while the left brain does it’s thing!

    This is just a couple of unsolicited tips. Only you know if they will work, but when things get frustrating in the homework dept. they may be worth a try….

  • amy

    I’ve been gone from FTK for sooo long, for the craziest reason–I couldn’t get it to work with Reader, and when I had my third child (she’s almost two) I just gave up. If it wasn’t in Reader… well. But I just got your latest book, and I was reading it and your voice, it’s just so strongly you. It sounded like your blog. So I came to find you again. I think I can handle a bookmark now. πŸ™‚

    We just ordered an exercise ball for my almost 9yo, since I finally cleared off my old childhood desk and moved it into his room. We got one from Fit Ball that comes with little pegs that you turn upright when you’re done, so your chair doesn’t roll away. Keeping the toddler from playing with it, well, that’ll be a different challenge.

  • I have a 9-year-old lollygagger who had such a hard time with homework last year that I decided to homeschool him this year. Yeah I know, but it makes sense in my brain. I figured we could fight for 2 hours every night over homework after he’d been gone for 8 hours, or we could work for 4 hours during the day and be done with it. Some days are great and others I want to run screaming from the house, so it’s pretty much just like I expected. Anyway, love your readers. That exercise ball thing just might work. Good luck with Maisy. Don’t you just love it when your children are just like you? *swings feet* *reads blogs* *ignores housework*

  • You will be glad to know that in person, that bag is VERY pink. I went as far as to have it removed from its locked case. It’s really pretty, but even the sales lady gawked at its price. However, when I returned days later, someone – who sadly wasn’t me – had taken it home.