Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Oh, wise parents, I need your help here. How do you motivate a 9-year-old boy to do his homework? Last week I received an e-mail from said boy’s teacher that he did not do his homework and that she appreciated his parents’ “cooperation” with this matter.

Every week, the class receives a packet of work sheets — in Spanish and in English — with writing and math exercises. They have one week to complete the work. As it turns out, Mr. Ari had not only missed a packet, but hadn’t planned to turn in any homework today either. So yesterday I frantically called around parents to see who could send me the monstrous packet — there were like 10 pages here, people! — even though their kids had already written on the worksheets. After a friend took pictures of the worksheets on her camera phone and texted to me, I transcribed all the work sheets — math boxes and all — for a total of 2.5 hours. Oh, and did I tell you that I have a work trip to prepare for this week? Ugh!

For the first time in my life, I felt my father’s pain. I’d leave projects for the last minute and he’d bring home the supplies and pull an all-nighter with me to complete the assignment. Okay, I don’t have it so bad, but yesterday I looked back on my procrastinating days and thought, “Wow, I was a real dick.” I am trying to avoid this with my kids…as I need my beauty rest. :)

Tips to instill a little more responsibility in DS? Thanks so much! What’s up with you?

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About Elisa

I am a journalist and online organizer who is the co-publisher of this blog. When I am not online, I am shuttling around my two kids, an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

173 thoughts on “Monday Morning Open Thread

  1. Sigh.. trying again since it got eaten the first time

    I would send a note to his teacher saying that you will work with him but that 9 is old enough to take responsiblity and you will back her up for failing the next assignment he doesn’t turn in.

    and don’t ever do what you did again… we would have been marched in to fess up to the teacher empty handed the next morning…

    • Yeah, I agree with both of these points and I’ve been where you are- both as a student and as a mama. Nothing teaches the lesson like natural consequences.

    • On the upside: he was devastated that he did not get to play with bff Jude this weekend. Amy couldn’t stop saying, “That’s a rough lesson” as big fat tears rolled down his cheeks. We also took away games on the iPad for a week. I noticed that this morning, he was up early, served his own breakfast and double-checked that his homework was in his book bag. I am hoping this scared some responsibility into him. lol!

      But i agree with you. My hand felt like it was about to fall off and I am horribly backed up at work now. There’s no way I can transcribe all that work for him again. I do remember feeling much more responsibility about homework at his age. In Catholic school we were even required to bring a parent’s signature every day!

      • Yeah, transcribing worksheets? So not in your job description.

        Plus: even if he gets an F in 3rd grade, it’s not going on the transcripts for college admission. :-) Better now than later.

  2. Elisa, I say this gently and take with a grain of salt bc I don’t have a 9 year old, but…isn’t this the school you were instrumental in founding? Does that cloud your judgement about letting him fail and deal with the natural consequences? There’s a delicate balance, for sure. My dh had no parental involvement in homework and only got motivated when he was threatened with repeating 6th grade. He’s definitely on top of our little guy’s homework now! But what about just having ari do homework at a designated time/place everyday of his choosing, with help available …and if he doesn’t hand it in, let him deal with the fallout?

    • yes this… if he fails HE fails.. not you… that’s an important distinction to remember…

      in 5th grade my mantra with Liza was “I’ve been to 5th grade, now it’s your turn..”

      • me too!

        FWIW, and this is a rare situation….this weekend, DS got tired of cramming weekend’s homework into sunday night and actually did it Friday, while we were waiting for the Blizzard.

        He then had “sledding with buddies” on Sat and “movie with buddies” on Sun, plus two rousing games of Settlers of Catan.

        I’m not saying the homework wars are over, not by a long shot, but I do think the “it’s your responsibility to get it done or talk to your teacher” is beginning to sink in.

      • That’s my line too.

        I know it probably feels like a bit of a pile on at this point, but the whole point of homework is that it is not the parents responsibility. Not ever. You can “help” if he expresses a need for help but do not get into the driver’s seat. I also wouldn’t impose unlinked consequences such as taking away the iPad, though of course you can rule that the iPad can only be used after the day’s homework has been completed.

    • Yep. He’s got to learn early that you’re not there to bail him out when he doesn’t do his assignments. (Plus, not bailing him out frees up your time!) It’s better that he learn this at age 9 than at age 15. I would also try to find out why he’s not doing them. Is he bored with them because he already speaks Spanish or maybe he doesn’t quite understand the math?

    • Well, we had to have a discussion about trust and honesty. This is what most disappoints me: I’ve been asking him if he’s been doing his homework — because i noticed he wasn’t bringing any home — and he told me he was doing it in the afterschool program. He’s there twice a week.

      When I confronted him about this, he told me that he did the work, but didn’t turn it in. this just didn’t hold water for DH and I. There were a lot of dramatic, tear-streaked conversations in the car. He was devastated that DH and I told him we could no longer trust him and he would have to show us that he completed his homework. (The packets do require a signature every week!)

      I’ve also told him that he shouldn’t care what mami and papi think. What should concern him is repeating third grade. (yes, I told him that. Does this line work? Anyone?)

      • Believe it or not, the “I did it but forgot to turn it in” is actually shockingly common. My neighbor’s son has been driving her nuts with that.

        But you know what? Let him fail. Work with the teacher to develop some natural consequences. The “well, if you want to do 3rd grade again, Ms. X would love to have you, I’m sure” is perfectly appropriate.

        A simple thing is to not allow certain fun stuff (TV, video games) until you see the completed homework. But be careful that you’re not keeping him from activities that are good in their own right or from being with important friends.

        DD was not always good about her homework at this age. She is being terrific about it now in 7th. They have a system starting in 6th grade with a tracker, where all the homework assignments are listed on a sheet or tracker, and the teacher signs off and the parent signs it regularly too.

        The other thing to take a look at is if the homework is really helping his understanding or just busywork. At one point, a teacher and I worked out a deal that we weren’t going to stress about the homework, that reading was more important and that she had plenty of mastery of the material. You can also consider substituting in more challenging work, if the teacher allows.

      • Honesty is a big one with me, and a much higher priority than homework. But they all say they did it at school and forgot to turn it in, and sometimes that’s even true. At this age they’re still exploring the boundaries of fibs/white lies/rationalizations/excuses. He’s heard you tell somebody you were delayed by traffic when he knows it was something else, so he knows that minor truths can be stretched when it’s convenient. You don’t know what’s acceptable (and what you can get away with) until you try it. He’s not wrong for testing this.

        So just hold the line calmly and firmly. He’s only in third grade; go easy on the dire warnings and the guilt trips. Don’t pull out the heavy artillery just yet, because where does that position you when the battle escalates in middle school?

  3. I think I’ve discovered a mama bear piece of myself that I never knew existed. H is struggling at school- huge crisis of confidence, not of skills- and finally after the most convoluted set of conversations ever in my life, it’s become clear that he’s being excluded from advanced placement based on his 504. I have e-mails to back it up and I’m so going apeshit on the school- in the sweetest, most Greek bitchy way I possibly can. I never, ever knew I had this in me.

    They will fix this. Now.

  4. Why are there no secular preschools? And Montessori schools are out of the price range. Making some more calls today…sigh. The Christian school we applied for is good academically, but I’m totally disgusted that they require parent interviews and a statement of faith for admission. Nice outreach. Well done, Christians.

    • We were really impressed with some of the Catholic preschools. And I’ve always liked the Y programs. Sorry there don’t seem to be options near you. Hoping one of your calls today is to the perfect place!

      • The catholic school was all play and very minimal learning. She would have fun, but I doubt she’d be kindy ready based on what ds is doing in school. It’s a shame. But we just don’t feel good about that one.

        • I am trying to find a y around here that actually has a preschool! We are also complicated by schedules. Pm only works for us, based on the bus for Ds’s school.

        • Ah – I think we may have looked for different things as I only wanted play;-)

          Is there a rec&ed? They have some good options here for part day programs.

          • I want her to play, for sure! But she plays all day with her brother for free :). At this school, the “learning room” had posters from 1973 and the only educational stuff they did was puzzles. I just think there can be a better balance.

            • I can totally understand that. That sounds like the daycare is more an after thought. There’s definitely a better balance and since you know what you’re looking for given how great DS’s experience has been it makes it very clear when it’s not right.

              • Ack. I meant that the play based learning center is more of an after thought to them. Not that daycare was an after thought for you. I realize that may not have read how I meant… I know that you’re really proactive and thoughtful!

                • I know what ya meant! And it comes off like I’m pushing too hard for academics, I think. But after seeing what ds I capable of, I want the same learning opportunities for dd. plus she isn’t going full time like he did. On our off days, during the school year, we spend a lot of time at the local “toy library” which has wonderful imaginative/dramatic play toys. So she already gets that aspect. I want her school to actually be getting her ready for K.

        • In the lecture I attended last week Madeline Levine pointed out that a few years into elementary school children who attended “academic” preschools test lower than children who attended “play” preschools. I’d heard that there was no advantage, but didn’t know they ended up behind. (I’m a Montessori believer myself, but just sayin’.)

          Of course if you don’t feel good about a school that is sufficient to rule it out, philosophy notwithstanding.

          • Interesting! Is there a theory behind that? I still don’t think this preschool would be the one for us, for some other reasons. Montessori definitely was not for ds. Dd might do well but it’s a moot point; the public Montessori doesn’t have any of the reverse inclusion classrooms we’d be eligible for and the private ones are all mucho dinero.

            • The theory is that play is a much better developer of executive function, and executive function is a better predictor of academic success than early skill level. In fact I’ve seen claims recently that it’s a better predictor than IQ, though of course I have no idea how they quantify executive function so I take that claim with a big grain of salt.

              • Hmmm. But what kind of play? Total free for all with Barbie dream house, ect? Or like Waldorf play? (I don’t know much about Waldorf except I can’t afford that either.)

                I believe what you’re saying in general, but I liked head start because there was plenty of play, but the kids had to choose their play center and make a plan. Then after playtime they discussed what they did. Play was treated as just as important as any other subject they learned.

                • That sounds like an executive function oriented school for sure, and that’s definitely the theory du jour. But I also think straight play is winning out over letters and numbers. I don’t know about Waldorf; it leaves a bad taste in my mouth so I haven’t looked into it.

                • Waldorf seems very keyed in to a dreamlike, nature-ish, fairy-tale type of play to me. From what I’ve seen around here, they “outlaw” any media related things, so no Barbies or Mickey Mouse or anything like that (sometimes not even a t-shirt with the Power Rangers on it or whatever), and certainly no shooting, etc. If you have the kind of kid who loves pretending she is a fairy living under a toadstool it would be great for her. Other types of kids, maybe not so much.

                • Play-based learning is different than just free-for-all play. I know Montessori wasn’t a good fit for your DS, but I’ll just use it as an example since it’s what I know. They have a play-based system, but everything serves a purpose. Puzzles and other materials have specific knobs on them, which is intentional an mimics how a child will later hold a pencil. Projects are laid out left to right, because that’s how we read. Stuff like that. Free play is also important. Sitting at a desk doing worksheets is not helpful at this age.

                  • The catholic school bugged me because the toys were abundant but seemed kind of yard-sale-ish. Like Dora board games and a Barbie dream house, ect. Fun, but not necessarily tuition worthy, IMO. And tons of stuffed animals in every room, artfully arranged. Kinda weird. But we loved the school itself; beautiful old school. Oh well.

            • I can’t find the theory so much but I have come across the same research. The long and the short of it is that you can burn kids out early on academics so letting them play is best.

    • And I forgot, a pastor reference! Wouldn’t want our little snowflakes mingling with unbelievers, now would we?

      Argh. It’s reasonable and good, so if we get in I may well send her…at least I’ll have some good stories about the other parents to snark on…

            • It’s long … but here you go!

              Dear Mrs. M:

              First of all, I should ask your forgiveness for typing this note, rather than handwriting it. As Bill can tell you, my handwriting is second only to that of chimpanzees who have stayed out in the cold too long. Between the shivering and the shaking and the typical sloppiness, I might as well have your class write it out for me by passing the note around one letter at a time.

              In any case, I would like to tell you a few things you don’t know about Billy. You might want to ask him about the details as you go along in case I’ve misremembered anything.

              He’s huge. I mean, the kid’s like forty feet tall. I know that the side of him you see at school is four-and-a-half high with short legs and a round middle, but at home it’s a different story. He is so big that he takes up two bedrooms all to himself, and even then we find his stuff strewn everywhere around the house. How else can we explain this, except that we have living with us an authentic giant who pushes everything out of his bedroom into the rest of the house?
              Because he is so huge, he is also heavy. Every morning he rushes in to play with me while I am still in bed, crushing my ribs and internal organs. I have such a difficult time pushing him off the bed that I can only do it ten or eleven times, not the twenty or twenty-five the little tyrant demands. Twice now he’s broken my back. Once I reached out from my chair and tried to reel him in, much like an octopus would do with any third grader unfortunate enough to find herself deep-sea diving near his lair. I caught hold of him and promptly went down for two weeks of pain. I recovered from that just long enough to tangle with him again. We were stomping on puddles in a parking lot. First he went, causing a mild splash. Next it was my turn, and when I slapped my foot down and felt my vertebrae coming popping out of my spine like Chiclets. That was another uncomfortable week. Now, you might think that I did it to myself, but I know better. The seismic waves Bill created with his stomp had just enough time to ring all the way down to the earth’s core and reverberate back up to catch me at the precise instant I put my foot down, thereby shaking my body like a bowl of Jell-O. Don’t wrestle him if you value your life, or your back anyway.
              Because he is so huge, and so heavy, he also has enormous hands. As a consequence he plays the piano like a fiend. He spreads his fingers out eight octaves at a time, and out comes “Deck the Halls.” He spreads them sixteen octaves in the opposite direction, and here we have a flawless rendition of “The Duke of York.” He flies so quickly across the keyboard that it takes him five minutes to learn songs that take mere mortals four days of intense practice. And by “mere mortals,” I mean, of course, fathers with backs intact enough to sit at the piano bench. I swear he does these things on purpose to head off any possible competition. And by “these things,” I mean, of course, breaking his father’s back. He has it all gamed out, I tell you. He’s that smart.
              Which brings up another point: because he is so huge, and so heavy—but not because he has enormous hands—he has a brain on roughly the same scale as a blue whale. I regularly catch him downloading signals from Mars and Timbuktu and West Bend. He has telepathic abilities that allow him to race through math worksheets in five minutes flat. The mistakes you see on the sheets are the result of interference from satellites transmitting piano lessons to him at the same time. Ask him sometime about the perimeter of piranhas, or at least what they eat. He spends a lot of time thinking about such things. Also, ways to blow up food.
              Because he is so huge, and so heavy, and has such enormous hands and such an enormous brain, he has a mouth to match. You may have heard him talking in the classroom. What you don’t realize is that you’re only just now hearing the conversation he had two hours earlier. He’s so smart (see: brain, huge above) that he knows what to say before anyone even says anything to him. And he’s loud. If you have the door closed, and pillows stuffed under the door jam, and mattresses in front of the door and all the windows, and if you’re not afraid that the police or the National Guard might be called, ask him to screech at the top of his lungs. You’ll thank me, once your ears stop ringing. He used to be so loud that we would put him outside and let him scream it out on the back step. We warned him that howling would attract wolves, but the only time they ever came around, they slinked away again with paws covering their furry, hurting ears.
              But because he is so huge, and he is so heavy, and has such enormous hands and such an enormous brain, and such a fearsome mouth that (dear God) never quits, he has a heart to go along. Bill knows right from wrong, and he isn’t afraid to tell you so. He is stubborn when he needs to be, and loyal when he needs to be and far beyond when any reasonable person would expect him to have given up. He loves his three cats and he loved the dog when he was alive. He loves his Mom and his Dad, his Mommy, his sister, his little brother, all three of his grandmas and his two grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, assorted church mice and whoever happens to be around that day. I have never met a more decent kid and I hope that he will stay that way, even as the rest of him shrinks down to the size of mere mortals. His friends at school should know that they have a good friend in Bill, though I expect they know that already. They should also not wrestle with him because that’s against school rules and also because he’s…well, we’ve been over that. Just tell the kids that I’m looking out for their safety.
              In any case, that’s all I can think to tell you at the moment, except to say that Bill is always hungry, but you probably knew that too. I hope you all are having a wonderful week and that nobody tries to wrestle with Bill. It hurts.

              Yours sincerely, the Rev. Daniel Schultz, a.k.a. “Bear”

    • Have you tried any of the United Methodist pre-Ks?
      I know they have a nationwide commitment to play based early childhood education Some of them have afternoons (my oldest did afternoons in IL).
      They don’t make you sign anything and are very inclusive.
      They don’t often have big signs or a giant commercial presence, but they’re usually pretty solid programs.

      • Haven’t found a Methodist one in my area, but the one I saw today was in a Presbyterian church and I liked it much better. Similar to head start in format but of course shorter hours, and they have an afternoon class.

        Ironically, I’m a believer, but I fail to see what my relationship to Jesus has to do with my daughter getting a Christian education if that’s what I choose…except to build an insular community that pats itself on the back for its’ great values. I know I’m guilty of sheltering my kids, but this school (private pre k to 12) takes it to the nth degree. I did like the program and the teachers a whole lot but I don’t know if I can get past the other stuff.

        • Hon, you’re supposed to be sheltering your kids. They’re little. Get back to me if you’re still sheltering them (to the same degree) in 10 years and we’ll talk.

          • :)
            Sheltering is good, you are right. I guess I more like hover. My OCD makes it hard for me to let them do things by themselves because they might touch something dirty/make a mess. It’s really, really hard for me. It causes a lot of power struggles and stress. I’m trying to let go but I do need more therapy. School is one place where I can let them go and release the worry for a while. And just not think about inadequately they are washing their hands.

  5. Ugh. We have an ice day today. It’s 40+ outside. Totally frustrating.

    Our dog Mugsy is not doing well. DH keeps hoping he’ll do better but I am not hopeful. I think we’re going to need to put him to sleep very soon and it is really hard to figure out when. And we also need to figure out what to say to the kids, especially Isaac.

    Wednesday we have our first apt with the school to start the process for getting DD a 504 plan. Homework is a constant struggle for DD and one of the things we need to figure out how to structure well for her. And how much to expect and how much to limit.

    I’m trying to fight back the anxiety. What’s helping this morning is listening to DD and DS debate whether Bella or Edward are better actors;-)

      • Thanks. I think we may have to do it tomorrow. I’m a mess… He won’t eat anything… I’m pretty sure it’s time and he’s been a great dog and has had a good life. We got almost a year more than the vet thought when Mugs first got his diabetes diagnosis. But I really wish he was doing better.

    • Not exactly honest, completely, but we told Lucy that we took our dog to the Vet and she died there. Left out the part about making it happen. Sometime we may tell her, or she will just figure it out. We just didn’t think that she could handle that information when she was 5.

      Sorry you are facing this. It’s so so hard.

      • Yeah. Unfortunately Isaac overheard my ils talking about bringing their dog in to be put to sleep when we were there at Christmas – just a few weeks after their dog died. So the other day when we brought Mugs to the vet he started screaming “no. You’re going to kill him.” Ugh…

    • We had to euth our dog last week. It is still very very very hard but at least I’m not bursting into tears randomly any more. I’m glad that it was a nice sunny day and that DH and I could both call in sick.

      My daughter watches a lot of Animal Planet so she did understand the need, but it was still hard. The dog had been in failing health for a year so that helped some too. But it became urgent and I had to tell her, “pet the dog before you go to school today; she may not be here when you get home.” :-(

  6. Aha! Facebook and he shall receive! One of my friends who works for the public school saw my post lamenting about how we can’t send dd to head start and she said she knows of some spots for typical kids in intervention classrooms for a very free or reduced rate! I’m going to get some more info!

  7. What grade is Ari in? 3rd or 4th? While I don’t think I would have gone through all that trouble to duplicate the worksheets, I kind of disagree with the usefulness of “natural consequences” with regard to 9 year olds and homework. Especially if he is only in the third grade. Some kids don’t have the kind of planning/organizing skills that make homework or long term projects possible without adult help. Some kids are capable, some kids aren’t. I think the skill finally kicks in for most kids around age 12. Shaming does very little good if kids aren’t developmentally ready; it’s like shaming them for not being tall enough.

    And if his mama was herself more of a grasshopper than an ant in her work habits :), you know he’s coming by his lack of organizational skills honestly. I would tend to give him a little extra help, provide a few more reminders, and enforce a homework routine, to help him along until he “gets it,” which I am sure he will. Just not every kid gets there at the same time.

    • Unfortunately (as I have learned), not all kids care that much if they get a low grade, either, so the natural consequence doesn’t mean much. This may be more of a boy thing, I don’t know.

    • i do agree with you – “natural consequences” works for some, but not all.

      But if you have a kid who needs structure, reminders, etc, do THAT (proactive) strategies.

      That’s different than “whatever happens, I’ll fix it for you”

      Also, having the kid talk to the teacher serves another purpose. … The teacher knows homework was a problem. If I just fix it, then she doesn’t know what the problems are or how to fix it on her end. IMHO, a week’s worth of homework all at once is HARD for kids to manage. But teacher wouldn’t know that unless some kids come in with it not done.

    • I agree that natural conseqences may not be effective at this age.

      We struggled to get my oldest daughter to do her homework in grades 1-3. Suddenly in grade 4 she started doing her homework without issue. We changed schools and her new school is essentially bribing the kids. At first I was not happy with bribing but then I realized how much easier homework was going and decided to be OK with it.

      The kids get a pretend checking account with the teacher complete with a checkbook registry. They get credits for good behavior, turning in homework, etc and debits for bad behavior, not doing homework, etc. The kids keep track of their balance. Periodically they have the opportunity to buy stuff from the teacher. The amounts are outrageous, lke $25 for turning in homework and a pencil and eraser cost $300.

      Another thing that we discovered recently that helps is reviewing the upcoming week to see when homework time is available. She gets a packet on Monday that is due on Friday. We look ahead at each week to see when after school activities will limit time for homework. This has really helped on getting her to do a lot on Monday if time is short the rest of the week. (She’s currenlty in 5th grade.)

    • I’m not sure I have a good answer for Elisa, but you are right about the natural consequences not being a big motivator for some kids. Our MS had a rule stating that if you forgot your homework, you couldn’t go back to retrieve it. I took each of my kids back at least once or twice during those 3 years. Once, a teacher confronted me in the hall, so I just told her that I disagreed with it. In what world don’t we fix a problem when we have discovered one? And I know a bunch of kids who preferred “I forgot it” + the natural consequence which they had already determined was worth the price.

      • I agree with it in principal – Madeline Levine calls this the ‘successful failure’, where the kid learns a range of coping skills from being left to figure out his own way after messing up. But it needs to be applied judiciously, and I wouldn’t agree with a blanket ban (nor does Levine). My flaky one, who I assume is ADD, is never going to be consequenced into a reliable memory. I have to work with him, and it’s not a short term project. I try not to bail him out too much but I will for important occasions, such as bringing his forgotten viola to school before the rehearsal for his first concert.

        • One of my friends used to ask her kids if they wanted to pay her in a chore to take them back to school if they forgot something. That seems like a reasonable approach for some kids.
          Mine girls are like your guy in that no consequence is going to fix the underlying memory issues. They only create frustration and panic.

  8. DS and a few friends have decided they want to live off-campus next year. He has not enjoyed being in a co-ed dorm where, according to him, the girls regularly vomit in the shower.

    So they’re planning to rent a house. The first place they liked was way too expensive. I asked for a budget, since we are being asked to sign the lease along with the kids, but what I got back was a joke. They each allotted $750/year for food. When one of the parents pointed out that was $2/day for food, one of the kids responded “but we’ll be buying food weekly or monthly, not daily.” I believe the word “annualized” was also used. Oh, okay then.

    Over the last couple of weeks we have honed in on what they can afford. I wish DS had been a bit more involved in getting the figures together. The place they’re currently hoping for will be unfurnished, so I’ve advised him to talk to the current residents and any seniors who will be leaving the area to see if he can pick up beds, dressers, pots & pans, etc., for cheap.

    • DD did this for this current school year – it was a great growth experience for her and her friends – finding the place, negotiating with a landlord, scrounging furniture from the tenants who were leaving and other seniors, etc.

      They were a little unrealistic on food budgets, but since DD works in food distribution, they had a better sense. Her frustration is that now, after four months, two of the five have decided they’d rather eat out more and not share food expenses with the others. UGH…’s all a life lesson, isn’t it!?

      • We never shared food expenses. I had one extremely stingy roomie, it was better to just separate. The other 2 and I shared food more often, but we all shopped separately. We avoided conflict that way.

        It depends on her roomies but she may be better off taking care of her own food expenses entirely.

      • They share food? When I lived in student housing we all just bought our own food unless it was a special occasion. I could see that getting uneven pretty fast.

        • They are all foodies – and love to cook – for DD, part of the live together experience is eating together. It has it’s pluses and minuses, but just like “I did 5th grade already”, I am letting her figure out how to manage this (with behind-the-scenes support when needed).

          • Yep. Good mama :)

            My roomie after college and I had a much more laid back dynamic and we’d each cook but share meals often without expectation of repayment for the ingredients.

      • The group food thing is tough. When I had roommates in college and post-college, I was much happier when we all just bought our own food. My post-college situation was a little easier as it was me, my best friend and her long term boyfriend (whom I’d also known from HS), and so we took turns doing a family meal most nights. When we ate out, it was almost always all together! So we pitched in for the dinner food, and then I’d buy things for myself separately.

        • Side note: the year I lived with my BFF and her boyfriend was probably the best year of eating in my life. We all sat down on Sundays and planned the week’s meals and the shopping list. My BFF liked shopping on her own, so that part was taken care of. Never before or since have I had nightly home-made meals planned out each week! I just didn’t grow up that way (frozen dinners mostly), but they did.

    • I loved living off campus but I didn’t budget enough for good and was too proud to ask my parents to supplement my meager campus income. I was really really hungry for 2 years.

      • I was definitely at my skinniest the first two years of off-campus living! My senior year things took a turn, though, and I ended up living by myself after issues with my closest friends who were supposed to be my roommates again. The emotional stress of losing those friendships and the lack of people around to “behave” in front of meant that I’d eat a pint of ice cream for dinner on the regular. Oops!

      • My third year of college three of us shared a tiny little apartment with a micro kitchen (had to move the table to open the fridge). We each did our own food, and I initially cooked the way I was raised – meat, potato, one vegetable – because I didn’t know any other way. But one of my besties was an immigrant from a large low income family, and she could feed the entire hallway for nearly free. Giant bag of rice, breakfast sausage and frozen veggies deeply discounted on triple coupons, a handful of spice, and voila! Dinner for 12 for under $2. I never quite got my food budget as low as hers but sharing a kitchen with her was probably the best thing that every happened to me.

    • My girl is in an apartment on campus. She didn’t believe me at the beginning of the year when I said sharing a kitchen would be harder than sharing a bathroom. Now she does. :) They have issues about getting the dishes done, but the food seems not to be much of an issue. She has discovered that her money is going faster this year because of buying more groceries, unlike last year when she had more money on the meal plan.

      • Once I didn’t do the dishes in a timely enough manner for my roommate and she piled them all on my bed! True story! She is one of my BFFs but just one of those pe

          • My dd may be a bit like your roomie. Not that she showed many signs of it at home. But there are apparently a few in the apartment who fall seriously behind on their dishes, and threats have been made to put them in rooms. One girl also cleans the dryer screen and drops the lint on the floor, so you see what she’s working with here.

    • Yuck on the shower! There are a lot of things about dorm living that leave much to be desired. I was in a dorm that was co-ed by floor; I was on the 3rd floor and the 2nd floor was all guys. (In theory this meant we had single sex bathrooms but in reality that was not the case.) One night they covered up the door to one of their bathrooms somehow (a lot of duct tape and cardboard maybe?), turned on all the showers and filled it a couple of feet deep and went swimming.

      Good luck to DS working out the food arrangements! Those roommate relationships can be complicated to negotiate.

    • Jebus. That’s horrible about the showers. I gotta say, I went through four years of dorm living and that never once happened. The one semester I lived in London, though, we shared apartments. We had a 12-person apartment. Half were like me in that we had, you know, vital life skills, and the other half were young women who were … ahem … skill deprived (seriously, one of them had to be taught to boil water because “at home, the housekeeper always does those things.”) Those bathrooms and kitchen would get feral very quickly, despite the weekly cleaning service the school hired out of despiration. OMG. Us responsible types just couldn’t keep up.

      • Lol at the roommate who didn’t know how to boil water. It’s funny. I have a few friends who had live in help growing up (in the US and abroad) and our friend from Peru still, in her mid 40s, can’t get through a get together without asking me to carry some of her stuff, or watch or carry one of her kids, or give her extra clothes for her kids or whatever. Sometimes it’s really quite annoying.

        But a 12 person apartment … eek, I don’t know if I could have handled that.

        • It wasn’t too bad. It was a massive flat, so there were six bedrooms. My roommate was a lovely girl and we were friends for awhile (we drifted, which was silly, because now I can’t find her!), and we were both, you know, growsed-a$$ young women who could cook and clean. Thank god, because if I actually shared a room with Miss Can’t-Boil-Water?! Eeep!

    • Ok, dumb question. Why the vomit in the showers? From drinking? Eating disorders? Either way, disturbing.

      Reading all of this brought up so many memories of roommates in college and after, and all sorts of shenanigans. I never said the word “annualized” in those years tho, I”m sure of that Lol.

      • It seems to be drunken heaving. There are girls and boys on the same floors and bathrooms are shared. Of course I only hear DS’s side of it but from the sounds of it, it’s fairly regular and definitely gross. The girls seem to get ridiculously drunk. I know DS was pulled aside by some cops when he returned to the dorm one weekend night. They wanted him to ID a girl who was passed out on her bed. Then EMS took her to the ER. Oy.

        I think he is pretty easy-going as far as cleaning and food. He will have his own room. I am hoping the reality of living within his means will be a growing experience for him. DH is on firm orders not to bail him out. I can already see him trying to find ways to get around that, lol.

    • Late to the thread, but don’t forget
      Have them sign up!
      We’re going round and round with leases and sub-leases at the moment, so I can relate. blech.
      I hope you’re pleasantly surprised at the food outcome. In the end, our guy is a great cook. His roommates eat out almost exclusively, but he has done well with his food and his budget. He joins them in dining out sometimes, but that is part of an entertainment budget (which he mostly covers). He is much better suited to apartment living. He gets up early, eats breakfast and has coffee. He’s been more productive and happier than ever.

  9. Eeeergh – I’m in the middle of a struggle with my bro and sil – and it’s so silly and triggers all my resentments (childhood and adult). I’m being asked to compromise, and I probably could, but WHEN does he compromise? My mom wants everyone to be happy, and I know I’ve inherited that trait from her. I’m trying to find the balance between doing what I want out of firmness and doing what I want out of spite/envy.

    The details are boring to anyone but me, but the core of it is when to have our family’s Passover Seder. Bro and Sil would like the Seder moved to accommodate their anticipated Spring Vacation (to the last day of Passover rather than the first). I want it to be on the actual first night, because, well, that’s when it is, and it’s a pain that it’s in the middle of school vaca, but it will always be that way (NYC schedules Spring Break, on purpose, to be during Passover and Easter). I’m sorry it interferes with your desire to travel far away to somewhere warm, but ‘oh well’. (see? that’s my spiteful side…..ah well….that’s the mood I’m in today)

      • have not booked a trip that I know about (I think they’d tell me). Neither of them are teachers, but they’d want to have the kids back in school. Thing is, NYC vaca is 10 days – so even if you leave “late” (3/26) you still have a week of vacation.

    • I don’t think you’re being spiteful; I think you’ve just reached your limit for compromise is all. We all have varying levels of compromise, but each of us have a place that is just a no-go and it’s personal and that’s just it.

    • Nah, have Passover when it’s Passover. The problem, to my mind, with postponing holidays like that is that the actual day passes, and … what, you ignore it? Do a mini version, which then feels kind of lame, and then the postponed day feels also a bit lame? That’s my experience of fudging the dates of major holidays anyway.

      There is nothing to prevent your bro and sil from going on their trip and then hosting the last night of Passover when they get back. If they miss the first night, that’s what they decided to do. No crime, no foul on anyone’s part.

    • This news has made me surprisingly happy – after all, I left my catholicism behind years ago so it shouldn’t really affect me. But back when Cardinal Law was elevated to Archbishop and all over the news in Boston, I was sharing a house with a former altar boy who was a victim of clergy abuse. Sweetest guy in the world, but he would hiss and spit at the TV like a kitten cornered by a rottweiler, insisting he could tell that Law was one of “them”. And I’ve never been able to look at Ratzinger without thinking of this poor sweet guy. I don’t consider that initial gut level prejudice justified but he hasn’t exactly grown on me, so I’m happy I won’t have to see his face any more.

      • I was a little surprised to learn I have friends who are weepy at the news. I just can’t imagine being all that attached to/excited about this guy as Pope.

        • I dunno…I am not Catholic but I did kneel at John Paul’s grave in the Vatican and was very moved. It’s a very simple memorial, that’s what was so moving about it. And I cried when joe Biden was sworn in, lol.

          • I was never a fan of either, but from what I’ve read there are some serious skeletons in Benedict XVI’s closet. Being involved in covering up and enabling continuation of abuse being one of them. Good riddance, I say.

          • I think PJP2 (as he’s called in our house) is different for people our age. He was Pope for so long, I don’t even remember the one before him. Even I feel sentimental reverence for him, and I’m not even Catholic. I know that he wasn’t perfect, but I always respected what he did in Poland on a social justice level. My DH’s family’s hometown is near PJP2’s hometown, so he was obviously very special to their community.

  10. Enzyme therapy day! Five years ago, this day would mean spending the day sitting beside my son’s bed in the pediatric ICU, trying to keep him entertained for 8-10 hrs while listening to beeping noises from 7 different patients. One year ago this day would mean picking him up at school after lunch, premedicating and prepping his veins in the school office, and driving him to the hospital outpatient clinic in the nearby city. But it was only 4 hrs including drive time, the clinic was friendlier than the hospital, and a portable DVD player did most of the entertaining. Today? I’ve got five boys aged 10-13 shouting at the Xbox while sharing four controllers and pounding down a stack of quesadillas, oblivious to the IV pole and the non-uniformed nurse working on her laptop nearby. While I tidy the kitchen and read mothertalkers in the comfort of my own home. Life is good.

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