It was the second day of school for my cousins. One was in her sophomore year of high school and the other had just begun eighth grade. Neither were happy to be going back to school, but when they came home on that first day, they were all smiles. I think they were glad to be back into some sort of routine and it was nice to see all their friends again.
So on that second day, it occured me that we were indeed back into the swing of things. And when I say that, I mean homework.
The three of us were the only ones home and we sat in the living room talking. I asked how their days went. The older of the two said her day was fine, the younger described every minute of her day without missing one detail.
Then I asked about their homework. Being in upper middle school and high school, I assumed they had homework. Even if it was the second day of school.
They both nodded, the older explaining she had no idea what she had to do.
I took out her planner and read out loud what she wrote.
“English,” I said, “bring in writing portfolio.”
“Yeah, what’s that?” she asked.
I blinked at her. How did she not know what a writing portfolio was? Still, I explained it to her that it was like having samples of your writing. It was a folder of her previous work, I assumed essays she had written from her English class last year.
“I don’t have that.” she shrugged.
I didn’t know whether to agree or not. I was sure she had copies saved on the computer, but her teacher didn’t really expect the kids to keep an actual hard copy portfolio from the previous year?
“Well, what did your teacher say?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know…?”
“She might have explained it, but I don’t remember… Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention.”
This didn’t surprise me. I sighed and said, “Well, I guess you can just ask your teacher tomorrow.”
“But it was due today.”
I stared at her. I glanced at my other cousin, who sat in the armchair beside me. She was smirking, clearly enjoying that her sister was going to get a bad grade on the second day of school.
“Wait, it was due today, but you didn’t think to worry about this last night?” I asked.
“Well,” she continued, “my teacher must have said something about it yesterday and I just wasn’t paying attention. I only know about it now because kids were handing in thick folders with papers inside to her today.”
I sighed. “Okay then you’re just going to have to reprint everything you wrote last year and put it all together.”
“I don’t have that.”
“You have your laptop.”
“But I didn’t save anything.”
I cringed at this. How do you not save your homework? How can you write pages upon pages of essays and not bother to save any of it or at least print out an extra copy?
“I mean, the more stuff I save onto the computer the slower the computer will be.” she explained with a smile. A proud smile as though she had thought outside the box and solved the “slow computer” problem. The answer has clearly been right in front of us the whole time… So, stop saving your work onto the computer, everyone!
I had no idea what to say to her.
“Then go to your English teacher from last year and ask him if he has any copies.” I said. I knew that was a long shot, but it was the only thing I could think of to say.
“He already gave it to me.” she replied.
“Then what are we even talking about here…?”
“I think that’s how the other kids had their folders. Our teachers last year gave them to us at the end of the year.”
“Then where’s yours?”
“I asked Daddy to make a fire at the beginning of the summer and I burned all my schoolwork.”
At this, my other cousin burst out laughing. I was completely dumbfounded.
Thankfully, my mom walked through the front door. I stood up and said, “Tag. You’re it.”