On the second day of school, Colin’s homework was to read for twenty minutes and fill out a reading log. Colin reads a lot, so this log would be no problem. But of course the day the reading log came home, there was no time to read. Normally, I’d say, eh, you’ll make up the minutes later in the week. But this was the first homework assignment! It didn’t feel right to put it off. Still, the day was packed, and bedtime came too soon.
The next morning before school, the blank reading log is still haunting us. What to do?
“I know!” I say. “You read Monday! That was a school day. Just list those minutes.”
Colin is reluctant. The reading log had been passed out Tuesday. So listing Monday minutes is Not Right.
But I make a good case for it, and he relents. Then I suggest that he puts Tuesday’s date for the Monday minutes because, really, what’s the difference?
Colin reacts as if I’m suggesting reading log blasphemy. He thinks, sure, we could be comfortable with fudging the date—if we are also comfortable with murder.
Fine. He keeps the Monday date and then lists the book title. It’s almost time to leave for school, but he’s close now, and I think he can make it. He needs to list the exact times he started and finished reading, so I pretend to remember them. Colin’s skeptical, but then I say with great authority that he started reading at 3:17 pm, and we move on. Filling out this reading log is a long, slow slide into the den of iniquity.
Now Colin needs to know the page numbers he read. We see from a previous entry he made in school that he must have left off on page 12. “You probably started on page 5,” I say. “Just put that.”
But no. He thumbs through the book to find the correct number. “Page 6,” he says after more precious Time to Leave for School minutes have ticked by. Whew. Good thing he didn’t listen to me and put page 5.
Suddenly I have another thought. Colin also read Monday night! He can list those minutes too!
Colin isn’t sure. “Am I really allowed to list two separate entries for the same day?”
“You are,” I assure him.
He agrees, probably because he sees that the integrity of this reading log has been crushed like a snail under a tire. Now he has to remember what he read that night.
“Car and Driver magazine,” I say, glancing again at my watch.
He gives a slow shake of his head. “No. I think it was…Motor Trend. But what pages? I’ll have to go look.”
“No! Just skip that for now.”
Colin sighs. Skipping is Not Right, but he agrees. “What were my start and end times?” he asks.
That’s a hard one since it was two nights ago, but fortunately Mommy remembers that it was exactly 8:33 pm -8:53 pm.
Whew! We made it. Reading log done before school.
“Wait!” Colin cries. “It wasn’t Motor Trend I read. It was a Lego book. I’ll have to go to my room to check which one.”
“No!” Now it is really Time to Go, and we are not going to be late over this reading log, which I begin to suspect is an assignment designed to slowly drive both of us mad. “Just keep it Motor Trend for now, and you can change it after school.”
Oh, poor Colin. Now I’m forcing him to go to school with his first assignment of the year filled with lies. And I do feel for him. I would have been the same way as a kid, wanting everything to be just right, and here I am, his mother, encouraging flippancy and fabrication. He hates this. Am I really okay with that?
But then I look again the clock and find that, yeah, I’m good.