Friday, 26 September 2014



To my utter astonishment my 11yo daughter recently started doing her homework. Something she has, up until now, always point blank refused.

Not that she has ever picked a fight over it. No, she has always been very polite. Promising various teachers to try harder to hand in her homework. Occasionally bringing some sheets home, even doing them, but never quite managing to take them back to school.
It has driven some teachers to despair. This child, quiet as a mouse in class, utterly polite, but at the same time not following any directions. Since she has always been more than capable to keep up with the work in class, most teachers finally just gave up.
I have always secretly admired my daughter for her defiance. I was nothing like her as a little girl and I am still nothing like her as an adult, intrinsically always aiming to please. Although not quite sure how good I am at taking directions now that I come to think of it, but that is something to be explored another time.
Back to the 11yo, who I found filling in her dairy! All right she did ask me what date it was, and then what day it was, and then what month is was, but hey ho you've got to start somewhere. But she does more or less do a couple of worksheets every day, using a very clever filing system and even managing to hand some of the sheets in on time.
Why? First of all her new teacher plays the guitar, just like my daughter. For some reason that helps. This new teacher is quite strict, my daughter tells me. She has had strict teachers before though.
And then it suddenly hits me. I am not around any longer to nag her, as three afternoons a week I am at work, while she is at home, or at a friend's house. Doing what she wants, whenever she wants. Why that should include doing her homework, however, is still puzzling me.
As it turns out she does do her worksheets whilst watching reruns of the Great British Bake Off, or MI High at the same time.. Ah well, that is less than ideal, but since I am not around, there isn't a whole lot I can do about that. Asking my daughter why all of a sudden she is doing her homework, by the way, just gave me the usual unhelpful insight in her psyche. She just informed me that she has 'always' done her homework and what, by the way,  I am talking about?
Just as I am getting used to the idea that we have turned a corner on the homework front, the 11yo shows me her true colours. While tidying her room the other day (something I swore a while back I wouldn't do any longer, but still of course do regularly) I found a lipstick sealed contract. This contract states that my daughter and her best mate have betted (for a can of coke) who can get the highest mark in the next geography test. The contract states that:

- they are both going to try and get a 10 (A+)
- they will both try their best
- they are going to honest when telling each other their grades
- they will show each other their grades (so much for the oral honesty)

I never knew that my non-competitive daughter could be motivated by trying to get a higher mark than her friend. But then I read the conditions of the bet at the bottom of the document. There I find out that my daughter's friend wins the bet as she gets 'a 10 and my daughter less than a 10'. My daughter, however, wins the bet as she and her friend both get 'less than a 10'. Clever girl. All she has to do is forget to study for this test, something that comes natural to her anyway, and Bob's your uncle!