Moxie and I have a three-on, three-off, alternate-Saturday custody system with our kids. And we switch every three months, just to even out the two main trade-offs: The Sun-Mon-Tue parent has an extra day of morning boyherding before school, and the Wed-Thu-Fri parent takes a social hit and is home every Friday night.
It was as even a plan as we could conjure, before a new development materialized with the beginning of the school year: Homework Night, which happens every Thursday and is enough of a migraine to make you want to buy analgesics by the bushel.
Robert has homework every night, but on Friday he has to turn in an essay that incorporates around two dozen vocabulary words. And TwoBert, our kindergartener (!), has a weekly assignment comprising darling little exercises in counting and basic literacy. Both kids are supposed to be pacing themselves, working day by day. However, much like both their parents, they have chosen to thrive on last-minute deadlines.
Single parenting, on its own, is all zone defense. But single parenting on Homework Night is like defending your garage against two speeding semis.
“OK, guys. Get started on your homework while I go make dinner.”
“Dad, these words stink. How am I supposed to use them all in a story?”
“Do your best with it, OK?”
“Daddy! Does ‘robot’ begin with R?”
“What do you think? What’s the first sound of that word?”
“And what letter is that?”
“It’s R! See? I told you!”
“You sure did.”
“Can I have some grapes?”
“We’re eating dinner in 15 minutes, kiddo. You have five more R-words to go.”
“Dad! I’m not doing this! It’s stupid!”
“You’ve done it for about 10 weeks in a row. Just do it again.”
“But the words are awful! I mean, ‘flawless’ AND ‘flawlessness”? Why have both of those in there? It's ridiculous! She’s just so mean!”
“She’s not mean. She’s challenging you.”
“Daddy! Can I have an apple?”
“No! Finish drawing your robot, and we'll have dinner!”
“Your robot. It’s an R-word.”
“I’m drawing Luke Skywalker.”
“But does that begin with R?”
“I don’t know.”
“It doesn’t, you STUPID!”
“Keep out of this. Write your story.”
“I AM NOT STUPID!”
“Yes you are. You can’t even read!”
“DADDY! HE CALLED ME STUPID!”
“I AM NOT WRITING THIS GARBAGE!”
“QUIET, BOTH OF YOU! ROBERT, FINISH YOUR STORY! TWOBERT, FINISH YOUR R-WORDS!”
And then, after some more ALL-CAPPED bombasticism, I go to the kitchen and mutter F-words.
Thursdays have become such a chore that I've decided we need to celebrate their demise. So now, every Friday after school we celebrate French Fryday, when we split a platter of fries, gear up for Friday Night Movie Night, and enjoy the fact that we are at the furthest temporal point before the next Thursday comes around.