“I’m taking the dog for a walk,” I announced loudly through gritted teeth. “When I come back, I expect your homework to be done.” As I yanked the door open, I turned slowly and deliberately to deliver the threat of last resort for the modern parent. “If not,” I said in a deep and serious tone, “technology will be off limits.”
Somehow, my threat didn’t seem to faze Robbie, my nine-year-old redheaded son. A master of homework avoidance, he seems to know precisely how far to push before I exercise the nuclear option, that is, a lock-down of video games and iPads.
Over the past four years, Robbie has perfected tactics for dodging school assignments. Lazy? Not at all. In fact, he’s very diligent in concocting creative excuses. He’s more like the safecracker who seems offended that someone would actually test his superior skills at lock-breaking.
In truth, I have to admit I sometimes find his shenanigans entertaining. He’s ingenious. What nine-year-old can feign carpel-tunnel syndrome, wincing at the imaginary wrist pain?
But at that moment, I’d had enough of the nightly battle over homework.
I took the dog for an extra lap around the block to lower my blood pressure. It was a fine evening and, besides, I wanted to give the kid a few more minutes to finish. When I got home, Robbie greeted me with a snaggletooth smile and a catch-me-if-you-can smirk.
He waved his paper at me tauntingly. The assignment was to write a report on the San Andreas Fault. Lo and behold, the entire page was filled, the writing was concise and informative, the handwriting neat. He even had his name on it. I was shocked.
Then Collin, Robbie’s 15-year-old brother, sauntered by. Apparently, he had an important message for me. I knew that because he made eye contact – a rare event in the life of a high school freshman – and he took out one ear bud.
“Robbie asked Alexa,” he said. Alexa, the voice-activated personal assistant/speaker created by Amazon, has been sitting on our countertop since Christmas, dispensing informative tidbits about the weather, sports scores and other trivia. Apparently, Alexa is an expert on geography, too.
I wanted to care, but by that point, I didn’t have the energy. This, I decided privately, would be an issue best handled by the authorities, who would be far more intimidating, less exhausted and more effective than dear old dad.
The next day, Robbie was summoned into the hall for a lecture on plagiarism. His teacher, of course, knew immediately his work was not his own research. With appropriate consequences for the homework delinquent, she nipped that practice in the bud.
Robbie isn’t the only one exercising creative options. We’ve seen shenanigans from potential consignors at Furniture Consignment Gallery, too. Over the years, I have seen nameplates from top furniture companies affixed to obvious knockoffs. Other consignors have sworn their dining sets were made by Ethan Allen or Baker, two top furniture-makers, when in fact they were made by less prestigious companies.
At FCG, trust is a two-way street. We do our best to authenticate pieces of furniture when we catalog our items and before we put them in the showroom, but buyers also need to take responsibility and undertake some due diligence. Our consignors are mostly honest and well-intentioned, but every now and then, one slips through. Those folks could benefit from a stern talking to in the hallway.