What started out as a school project turned into a lesson of connection, love, and family.
At my seven-year-old son, Dexter’s, school they are required to do a weekly speech in front of the whole class. We are often given a topic and we work through it on the weekend and practice a couple of times before his speech day. This is usually my job alone, and some weeks it’s a drag and others, it’s very rewarding depending on my level of involvement and mood.
One week, not so long ago, our weekly subject was “What is the difference between school in years gone by and now?”, and it was suggested that we call our grandparents and pose the question.
My parents don’t live in the same city as us, so they usually only participate in homework when they come to visit. Dexter is quite comfortable having a group video chat or a general phone chat
with his grandparents, but there was something different about the day we were calling for school. He was a little excited and a nervous about ‘interviewing’ Nana and Grandpapa.
We wrote our list of questions and had a pen and paper nearby so I could take the notes and he could just listen and converse as well as a seven-year-old boy on a phone can. We put the phone on speaker and we sat with anticipation as the phone rang at the other end.
Nana answered the phone expecting my voice on the other end, but her delight was evident in her tone when Dexter announced it was he on the line. He explained the task at hand and asked Nana the question – “What was different about your school compared to mine?”
Nana thought for a moment and then they began to chat. They discussed corporal punishment something completely unimaginable to his young mind and desks with lids that lifted so you could stash your belongings inside. All the while I dutifully took notes as they chatted.
Next, we called Grandpapa who went to boarding school in England. Again, his surprise at Dexter’s sweet, high voice on the other end was audible as Dexter posed the same question to his grandfather.
It wasn’t the first time Dexter had phoned his grandparents, but it was the first time he’d called them for something more than a “hello, what are you doing?” or “thank you for my gift.”
I could feel my heart growing as my child dug into the histories of my parents. He learned more about them as people while he imagined them as children at school every day just as he is now.
A part of me wondered why I hadn’t thought of this before, getting my family involved in doing his homework
? With the advent of video calling, there is no reason why I must shoulder the entire homework burden week after week on my own. Even though they are absent, they can be involved. They loved it, and he loved it also. Everybody wins.
There will no doubt be a time where the level of homework will outpace us all or he’ll prefer to work autonomously in his room at his desk. But for now, when the daily homework is a team effort and simply being there giving encouragement is as imperative as actually helping to get my family involved is a revelation.
I realised it’s not even about homework. The homework is just a portal to help build more bonds with family, regardless of whether they’re able to pop in for a cuppa and a quick story time with their grandchildren. It’s just another opportunity for a little family moment to keep everyone involved and connected.