Weekly Column: Hangman and Homework

©Stephenie Freeman

When I woke up, the air smelled different. It was early, the house still quite with sleep, but I could feel the electricity of the new day starting to vibrate. It didn’t take long before a little hand was knocking on my bedroom door.

“I’m ready to go to school!”

I opened the door to find my 7-year-old, the newest and cutest second grader in town, dressed in the clothes that I had carefully laid out for him the night before. His hair was sticking up in five different directions and his socks were on the wrong feet, but it didn’t matter. He was ready to go.

“It’s only 6 am, Buddy. School’s not open and your teacher’s probably still asleep, but I appreciate your enthusiasm.”

The Cheese could hardly stand still for the customary first day of school pictures on the front porch. The ten minute walk to the school through the neighborhood took only five with the Cheese breaking into a full-on run more than once. I left him in his new classroom. He was smiling from ear to ear, sitting in between two of his best buddies. I was trying to take pictures without totally embarrassing him. I knew it was time to leave when he rolled his eyes and turned away.

They grow up so fast.

By the end of the school day I was the one who was excited. I couldn’t wait to hear about his day. As he climbed into the car, his smile was just as big as it was when I left him. I immediately asked him how his first day as a second grader was.

“We played Hangman.”

“That sounds fun. What else did you do?” I didn’t know this new teacher yet, but I was fairly certain she didn’t wake up that morning thinking, “I think we’ll play Hangman all day.”

“I have some homework for you in my backpack,” he told me.

Once home I found a packet of papers for me to fill out. Emergency forms, contact information, and cafeteria plans, but the real homework was a “Tell Me About Your Child” form. And like any good homework assignment, I felt my anxiety and stress levels start to rise.

The questions were vague, open ended, with a myriad of possible answers. I wanted to answer them without trying to sound like I was trying to impress the new teacher. Too much information would label me as a showoff. Too little information and I would look like a slacker. Second grade is going to be harder than I thought.

The final question was perhaps the hardest: “What would you like me to know about your child?” It was starting to get close to bedtime and I still hadn’t finished my homework. So I did something controversial when it comes to homework. I stopped worrying about what I thought the teacher wanted to hear and simply wrote what I wanted to tell her.

“As this new school year starts, I proudly hand over my first-born son. In his mind, second grade is one grade level shy of college, so say that he is an eager student would be an understatement. He’s a smart little boy that still has a lot to learn. Most of the time he doesn’t listen to a word I say and cannot make his bed to save his life no matter how many times I show him, but his father and I have high expectations and think that he will go far in life regardless. He’ll be a good student, learning being a top priority in our home, and will always turn in his homework on time. Guaranteed.”

Just like me.

One Comment

  1. Dawn

    Courtney said they played games all day on the first day as well! LOL!

    I hope he has a wonderful year.

    This year I put together an 8 page (in color with pictures from birth to current age) portfolio for each of her teachers. They LOVED it! I wish I had been doing it every year.

    There are 710 sixth graders. I think this helped her not to be just a little fish in the big sea. They all recognized her when she walked in the door that first day.

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