I know this may sound odd, but I’m jealous of my children’s homework.
I’ve been reluctant to assist their endeavours for a few months ever since my son went up a maths group.
You see, I helped out with some complex maths formula homework and, when my statistician husband checked it (with that steely glint in his eye) he found I had got every answer wrong.
But now I’ve accepted that I’ll never be the new Pythagoras, my attention has been diverted back to my two great passions of art and English.
‘This is MY homework,’ my 10-year-old said, slapping my hands away from the Olympic rings she was sticking on to a piece of paper.
‘But they’d look much better if...’ I began and got the withering glance of someone who knows that Olympic rings have a precise pattern and impressionist versions will not get good marks.
So I find myself sidelined, begging to help. Like when my son created a portrait of Jesus, made out of cut-up Cosmopolitan magazines. I was only allowed to rip up paper while he got the joy of trying out various women’s legs to make Jesus’s nose more striking.
It’s easier to contribute with English. Punctuation is punctuation, but then we move on into imagination and my brain itches to get involved.
Recently I had to fight the impulse when my youngest daughter had to write a dragon poem. She let me type up the words she dictated, but that was it. No massaging of metaphors.
How long is it since I sat down to compose? I wrote an excellent poem once. I took it to an open poetry evening and was ready to recite when I realised that all the other competitors were waffling on at length about dolphins and flowers.
Suddenly I realised that my rhyming contribution about the possibilities of offering favours to builders to get work done more quickly would not go down too well with this audience. So I chickened it.
What am I to do when all I want to do is take over and write poems and make collages?
Turn green with jealousy, get in a huff, or support my kids in their own creative paths? We all know the last option is the right one, but it’s harder than algebra to live with.