Posted October 2, 2012 by Amy in Features

The Homework Ninja


Yo dawg! I hear you don’t like doing homework in your homework? NO GAMES FOR YOU!

Ah, the power of a gaming parent. It is a beautiful thing. I suppose those of you with no kids, or small fry, don’t know what I’m talking about….so let me share with the joy. There are few joys in parenting that equal that marvelous point in time when your children become old enough to lose games.

Didn’t do your chores? NO GAMES FOR YOU! Rearranged your brother’s face? NO GAMES FOR YOU! Told your gramma at Sunday dinner that her pigs in a blanket were more like “butts in a blanket”? NO GAMES FOR YOU, MY FRIEND! Yes, it is a heady power, likened to that of Castro or Genghis Khan, ruling over all with a mighty fist. And yet, it is a love/hate relationship.

What is there to love about stealing away a thing that gives your kids happiness? More like what’s not to love, compadre! For however brief a time the punishment lasts, you don’t have to fight for the television. Ah, bliss! Not to mention it gives you a chance to finally take back the all high scores they’ve managed to steal from you, lucky little pipsqueaks. But the biggest draw to laying the smackdown on gaming time is that their complete and utter horror at having lost their one true love near guarantees they won’t be setting fire to the hydrangea/using your car for a bike ramp/posting embarrassing pictures to your Facebook account again any time soon.

And yet, such a glorious thing cannot last. It is the law of parenting that just when you get the hang of it, things start to get nasty up in here. The Games Nazi works oh, so well, and then…..you become the Homework Nazi, and everything you thought you knew flies out the window and it’s every man for himself in a fight to the death.

Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic….naaaah. I have teenagers, my friend, and let me tell you – you don’t want to go there. Oh, sure, it’s great watching your precious minions grow up, develop a sense of humor, blossom into adulthood, yada, yada, yada. All that’s fine and dandy, until you get to the whole homework thing. Now maybe you’re one of those parents whose gleefully happy teenagers do all their homework without asking, and if you are – you just sit yourself over in that corner over there and gloat. This article is not for you. For the rest of us, I’m about to lay down the skinny on the process of becoming the dreaded homework nazi.

One fateful night, you’ll be sitting in all your glory, enjoying your first bit of oh, so relaxing gametime in what seems like eons. The household is calm and quiet, and you are settling in for a marathon session of your favorite game. But, what’s this? An email from your kid’s teacher? Oh, well why not just open that up and see all the wonderful things she has to say about little Junio….AAAIIIEEEEEE!

It seems little Junior hasn’t been doing his homework….at all. While all those F’s in neat little rows may do wonders for your OCD, the parent in you realizes that *you* are going to have to fix this. Turns out the reason that homework isn’t being done is cause it cuts into Junior’s game time, and he just isn’t willing to make that kind of choice. “Oh, well,” you think, “we’ll see how he likes losing games for a week!” And then, the saddest moment arrives. You realize, it isn’t going to work this time. And an era has died.

Something happens when kids hit middle school. Sure, they’ll still hate that punishment, and they certainly don’t want to lose their precious games. But it just isn’t enough to prevent them from pushing it, over and over again. It’s one of those live and learn type things that sounds so nice on paper, but really kinda sucks when you’re watching over it all while fervently praying Junior won’t end up a high school dropout spending his days pimping on the corner, all because he failed Beginning Foods. Overly dramatic again? Sure, but it certainly does feel that way form the trenches.

Ah, well. Life goes on, and I suppose this, too, shall eventually pass. What’s a gaming parent to do but pick up that beautiful noise-cancelling headset, wrap your fingers around a silky smooth controller, and for God’s sake turn off your email this time. Mommy needs to get her game on.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)