Homework That Should Not Have Been

This story has to be divided into three parts, so if you don’t have time, you might want to skip this.

(Then again, I have been writing long articles lately. Oops…)

Some time last week, I received a call from one of Phoebie’s teachers. Apparently, Phoebie didn’t finish her work in class and would have to bring it home to complete the pages.

The teacher informed me that Phoebie was the only one who didn’t complete the work and the rest of the class finished what was required. (She also mentioned that she was screening some videos so that the children can do work and watch at the same time, which was obviously a distraction, but that’s another story.)

When Phoebie came home, I talked to her about it. I told her that I understood why she was distracted but she would have to learn to be more efficient. HusBenKoh had earlier taught her to finish one line of writing before watching a bit of what’s screening and then continue writing, so I reminded her to do that.

Then comes the second part of today’s story.

One of the days this week, Phoebie came home and said she had a LOT of homework to do. This wasn’t unusual because on most days, Phoebie didn’t even have homework at all.

I asked her how come she had so much work to do. “I was talking to my friends instead of doing them when we were supposed to do it in class,” Phoebie admitted.

I have to say, I was incensed when she told me. What she was essentially telling me was, she wouldn’t have had so much homework if she had focused in class and completed her work instead of chatting with her friends before she was even done.

Angered, I told Phoebie, “For every page that you have brought home, I am going to cane you twice.” Perhaps I would have said lesser if I had known how many pages there were.

We counted the pages together and there were 17!!! How could there be so many?!

I had said what I said, so I had to deliver.

“17 times 2, that’s 34,” I told Phoebie. She looked shocked. “I will cane you 14 times now first, and cane the rest after you finish your work.”

I caned each of her hands seven times, pained in my heart as I watched her expression. She knew that if she screamed or cried, I would get angrier, so she tried to hold back her tears.

After she was finally done with all the pages, I delivered the rest on the caning on each hand. Phoebie was crying.

“Do you like to be caned?” I asked her.

“Nooo… ” she answered between sobs.

“I don’t like to cane you either,” I told Phoebie. “But I want you to remember the lesson you learnt today. It’s not that you cannot talk to your friends, but you have to learn to do the right things at the right time. Focus on your work, finish it and then you can talk.”

“Okay Mama… ” Phoebie said, still sobbing.

And then, now comes part three of this story.

Just one day after Phoebie was caned 34 times, history repeated itself.

Throughout the day, I asked Phoebie if she had any homework. “Nope, don’t have,” she said confidently.

When we got home at night, somehow, I felt that I should ask her again. “Any homework today?” “Er…” Phoebie said, “There… is… ”

“WHAT?!” I was incensed, yet again. “I have been asking you all day, and you kept telling me no. Suddenly you have homework?”

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to get into trouble,” Phoebie said softly.

Immediately, I knew what kind of homework it was – homework that shouldn’t have been, work that should have been done in class.

Some yelling ensued, as Phoebie went to her school bag and took out the worksheets.

“HOW MANY PAGES?” I asked loudly.

“Three… ” Phoebie answered.

“For every page, I will cane you two times. For lying, I will cane you five times,” I told her. 

She started crying. “If you cry, I will add another 10,” I threatened, and Phoebie tried to hold back her sobs.

After she finished the three pages of homework that shouldn’t have been, I talked to her before caning her.

“What happened? Didn’t we just talk about this yesterday? Did I not cane you hard enough?” I had so many questions. I couldn’t understand how, after being canes 34 times just the day before, Phoebie was doing this again.

“I… was talking to my friends… ” Phoebie replied softly.

“Was it about something important?” I asked.

Phoebie shook her head.

“So it could have waited right? I told you, it’s not that you cannot talk to your friends, but finish what you have to do first,” I reminded her. 

“And, why did you lie?” I asked, disappointed.

“I didn’t want to get into trouble,” Phoebie said.

“Did lying get you out of trouble?” I asked her.

“Nooo… It got me into MORE TROUBLE… ” Phoebie said, and broke into loud sobs.

“I told you before, right? I know when you lie. Lying doesn’t get you out of trouble. You could have been caned less if you had told me the truth. Because you lied, you will be caned more times,” I told her.

We proceeded with the caning and I told Phoebie to go and get ready for bed. I knew she was tired and I was exhausted too. 

What should I do to help her to remember to focus on her work?!

As Phoebie was washing up, I took her pencil case from her bag.


I wrote a note and pasted it on the pencil case.

“Look at this note, Phoebie,” I said as I showed it to her, “I really don’t know how else to remind you to focus. I cannot be in school with you and you just have to learn.”

“You are NOT ALLOWED to remove this note. When you have work to do in class, look at this note and remember what you are supposed to do.”

“When can I remove the note?” Phoebie asked, still crying a little.

“When you show me that you have learnt your lesson, I will remove it,” I told her.

Sigh.

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