Homework

 

Ever try to capture and vaccinate a feral kitten? It scratches, hides and pathetically meows just like an 8-year-old boy doing homework.

I need this kitten to write some Ohio Facts, each one in a different color.

“Here. Start with red.” The color of rage. He writes the first one and starts the second in red.

“Stop. New color.”

“What?!? No! I wrote the name already.”

He’s feisty, but I can’t let a scratch slow this down. I once naively let this sort of mistake slide and the work came back to be redone.

His heaving sigh makes me lose sympathy.  Would I sigh if my boss set out donuts and Starbucks and let me do the report in colored pencil? I PTSD back to the team building weekend — there were donuts and coffee and colorful erase board markers.

“I know this sucks. We all muscle through and then we can have fun.”

“Why? That’s dumb.”

Don’t fall for it. He’s not Camus. My husband plays into the existential line of questioning and after an hour the colored pencils have made a flowchart for obtaining a sailboat, homeschooling and living off the sea.  

“That doesn’t matter now. What matters is Ohio facts. In rainbow colors.”

The guttural noise signals temporary defeat. My kitten picks up the purple pencil and I remember magical days when Harold and his Purple crayon used to dance across our television and imaginations.  He gets through 3 more facts before going boneless and using pencils as drumsticks.

“Come on buddy.  Sit up.” I wonder if he needs some alone time. I need alone time. “I’ll be in the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher.”

Because life is like homework. I empty half the dishwasher before I check to find only one new color on the page.

“Dude. What have you been doing?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry.” He’s meowing pathetically. “Am I stupid?”

“You’re not stupid.” I walk over to gently lift his curls. “Just get a new color and write about William Howard Taft. Here. Use black.” The color of your teacher’s soul.

He finishes, but it’s not over.  It’s never over. Times tables. There’s a quiz on 7s tomorrow.

“What’s 7X4?”

He’s thinking when the husband comes in. “Dad, what’s 7X4?”

Husband says, “Ask a calculator.”
“Not helping.” I glare and then google ‘scientific studies on the importance of learning math facts.’  I also google ‘45 ft. sailboats, ocean worthy.’  

“What’s for dinner?”

“Let’s thaw salmon.”

The kitten whines, “I hate fish,” without irony.

I grab an orange pencil and jot down the address of the 40ft boat docked in Port Clinton. “Then you better learn the answer to 7×7.”

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