Pulling Teeth

pulling teethMy eight-year-old has been ready for this school year to end since about September. He’s really smart and isn’t having trouble with the work, he just hates it. He hates sitting there all day, and he REALLY hates homework. Every day, homework is a battle. I’ve tried so many different things to try to motivate him. I’ve tried letting him play for awhile when he gets home to give him a break. I’ve tried having him sit down right away to get it over with. I’ve tried setting a timer and giving him an incentive to get it done quickly. I’ve tried sitting right next to him and hovering over him the whole time. He just does NOT like doing his homework.

Anyway, all that to say, that as it gets closer and closer to the end of the school year, it gets harder and harder to get him to get things done. I mentioned to his teacher last week that trying to get him to do homework at this point is “like pulling teeth.”

And then it occurred to me what a stupid phrase that is.

It’s not like pulling teeth. I WISH it were like pulling teeth. Pulling teeth is a cakewalk compared to getting a strong-willed child to to homework.

I’ve had teeth pulled before. It’s not that big of a deal. They drug you up and then get their little pliers and wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-yank. That’s it. All in all it’s a few minute process. It takes way longer for the drugs to kick in than it does to do the actual teeth pulling.

IF ONLY the homework thing were that simple! Do you know what I’d give to be able to drug my son and just pour the information into him?


So, I’m officially taking the phrase “pulling teeth” out of my regular rotation of cliches.

About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

8 comments on “Pulling Teeth

  1. How about “herding cats” then? 😀

    • No, getting a kid to do his homework is much harder than herding cats.

      Great post, Avily. My boy was like that, too, as an adolescent. If it’s any comfort, mine did at least grow out of it.

      • I dunno, how many cats have you tried to herd? 😉 I’ll take your word for it, though – I’ve never been a parent, just a former kid (who had no trouble doing homework, as it happens).

        On that: have either of your read the original DUNE? One thing which really struck home to me was a statement in passing, in the history of Paul Muad’dib: “the first thing he learned was that he could learn”. “Yeah… that’s what made all the difference with me,” I realized. By nature and nurture, that was the key to everything else and as Frank Herbert pointed out through his characters, it’s something a lot of people should learn first and don’t.

        Not at all a critique of any kid who doesn’t do his or her homework, or any parents thereof. It’s just a connection which needs to be made in a kid’s mind and I wonder if our very society at large discourages kids and adults alike from making it.

      • Agreed, Kristen. 🙂
        I keep hoping he’ll outgrow it, that at some point he’ll discover that if he would just get it done he’d be free rather than wasting the whole afternoon and evening screwing around.

  2. Y’all are making me feel weird. I was and remain like Jason in FOXTROT: you couldn’t challenge me enough with homework. I took every extra credit chance I could, too.

    If anything frustrated me it was the inability to think through some problems easily in mathematics. Mere clerical work can relieve stress but if there’s no stress to relieve I find it profoundly boring. Did then too. Bookkeeping is the one subject EVER that I viscerally loathed. I knew I’d get killed if I stayed in gymnastics, but I didn’t loathe the subject!

    This is one area in which personality type, with its associations in temperament and learning style, has a lot of interesting things to say. I hope, Avril, you find what motivates your son. We’re motivated by different things and what motivates us isn’t always a good guide to motivating others. But beyond saying that obvious thing, I have no wisdom to offer and I’m just sorry I can’t.

    • I wish I knew how to get him to make that connection. He’s very intelligent and has no problem understanding, he just doesn’t want to do it.

      Unfortunately, he’s a lot like his mom in that regard. I remember doing the same thing.

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