THE BLOG
10/15/2014 07:03 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

Homework, to Nag or Not to Nag?

Alisa Schindler

It was 10 p.m. last Sunday night and I knew where my children were; two already asleep and my 12-year-old on the verge.

I went in to say goodnight and found my boy warm and mushy and wanting of hugs; which was perfect because I was exhausted, layered in my comfy pajamas and wanting to hug. I had just enough ounces of energy left to rub his back, almost ready for bed myself when he said, "Uh, I just remembered. I have homework and I might have a test tomorrow."

Immediately I went from a sleeping dog to one who senses danger. I'm at attention, ears perked, heart pounding. As usual, I had reminded him about his homework at least half a dozen times; more, if you counted the silent but overt raised brow directed at his untouched backpack. In response, I had been ignored, grunted at and eye-rolled.

My bright goodnight smile darkened and my arm tickling sweet circles on his back halted. "Are you kidding?" I asked, although clearly it was a rhetorical question. He was not kidding.

And the mad scramble began...

The next morning when all that was left of the insanity was a harried overtired mom and a cranky child, we had a discussion on time management, his responsibility to his work and of not making me the nag. It was brief, as the circumstances seemed to speak for themselves.

Waiting till the last minute is something I have a hard time understanding. When I have an assignment, I'm at it the first chance I get. How else could I double check, edit or revise? How could I even sleep with the "assignment" looming over my head?

The answer is that I can't. Which is why barring a special circumstance, my children do their homework when they come home. This worked fine through elementary school, but now that my oldest is in middle school, the same rules don't apply.

First off, he doesn't always come home right after school. He plays on the school soccer team. He also plays in a basketball league and of course there's his year-round baseball training. On top of that he attends Hebrew school two days a week and has just started guitar lessons. I'm sure it seems like a lot, but he loves and manages it all, and if something has to give, it gives. But that something is never his schoolwork.

Thankfully, he's a good student, but weekends are especially challenging and I admit to tossing semi-constant reminders randomly his way -- 'What would you like for lunch? Hey, did you do your homework? OK, grilled cheese.'

But this weekend, I vowed not to be the nag and to make him responsible. So I reminded him on Friday evening and told him he was on his own. Then I watched the hours and days pass with mounting anxiety.

Would he forget? Could I let him go into school unprepared? I really didn't know if I could, even if ultimately the lesson was to his benefit.

Luckily, I wasn't put to the test. Sunday evening I found him sitting in his room, his book bag flattened, an explosion of binders and books strewn about. He caught my eye and gave me a self-satisfied smile.

At bedtime, as we were saying our goodnights, wrapped in our warm sleepy hug, he whispered, "Mama, don't stop reminding me to do my homework. It's good."

Nothing better than knowing your nag isn't a nag all.

It's appreciated.

This essay and others like can be found at Icescreammama.com.