Thursday, November 6, 2014

Soothing the Savage Beast

I hate homework. I know I've mentioned this before, and some might think I should just shut up about it because I'm not the one that has to do the homework. But here's the thing: I could deal with doing it. What I can't deal with is the kid who has to do it and doesn't want to, and instead chooses to whine, complain, yell, gripe and kvetch about it. To me. While I'm trying to work. And then when I offer to help, he yells at me even more.

This happens a lot, and even more when it's the end of the marking period and every teacher is heaping on the assignments, projects, quizzes and tests the final week before grades are due. So what's a mother to do when the level of homework threatens her sanity and the potential health and safety of her children?

Blast some music.

Yes, it sounds simple. And listening to music is the oldest study aide in the history of schoolwork. Sure, the methods have changed from record players and AM/FM radios to cassettes, CDs, MP3 players and Internet radio. But it's not the method of delivery that matters. It's the music.

The old saying is often misquoted. In fact, the phrase was coined by William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, in 1697:

"Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak."

In my house though, anyone with ungodly amounts of homework automatically becomes a beast, so I stand by the title of this post. Yesterday, my younger beast was close to being locked out onto the porch for how difficult he was being about the amount of homework and studying he had to complete. It was that or beat my head against the wall until I hurt myself. Voices were being raised, ultimatums issued, and I saw the escalation potentially soaring. Then something occurred to me, and I stopped.

"Ben, what's that song you heard on the radio last night that you loved? Let It Burn?"

"Huh? Let It Go you mean?"

"No, it was Burn something." I Googled 'the Burn song' on YouTube. Boom, there it was. I hit play. Ben said, "Oh, YEAH! This one!" He watched the video the first time, then I hit play again and he sat down to start working. When the song ended, he got up and went to his room, but before I had a chance to call him, he returned with his portable Bluetooth speaker and his cell phone, complete with playlists. He hooked them up, put them on the table, hit 'Play' and went back to work.

And it worked. The music, that is. By the end of the night, Ben had completed six Social Studies worksheets and studied for his Spanish exam. Yes, I had to listen to Minecraft parody songs repeatedly until I thought I would have to leave the house myself, but it was better than shouting. And way more effective.

So when the homework load gets heavy in your house, I highly recommend popping the 'Frozen' CD (or whatever tunes of choice will make your student drop everything and start singing) into the player and letting it rip. If your kid is anything like mine, it will make the process far less painful. For everyone.