This Mom Rewrote Her Daughter’s “Outdated” Homework Assignment to Applaud Working Moms

posted: 06/08/17
by: Blythe Copeland

Lynne Polvino, a children's books editor in Manhattan, was helping her 6-year-old daughter Hazel with a first grade vocabulary assignment: a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet that asked the students to complete a story. But when Polvino read the assignment more closely, she felt "shock and dismay" at the content: The story was about a girl named Lisa who was upset because her mother was going back to work after staying home with her. Lisa's "morning was terrible," as everyone is in a rush and the breakfast her father made "was not too good."

"It just pushed so many buttons for me, and with each sentence it managed to get worse!" Polvino told Today. "I mean, what decade are we in, anyway? In this day and age, we're going to tell kids that mothers working outside the home makes their children and families unhappy? That fathers don't normally do things like cook and wash the dishes?"

After helping Hazel fill in the blanks, Polvino still had the assignment on her mind, so she emailed her daughter's teacher, who agreed that the story was "outdated." But then Polvino went a step further, rewriting the assignment and posting the new version on her Facebook page.

Polvino's rewrite begins, "Lisa was happy. Her mother was back at work." It goes on to describe how Lisa's mother had completed a year of paid maternity leave and was returning to a job that "valued her important contributions to the workplace", while Lisa's father was beginning his paid paternity leave by making a "very good" breakfast; Lisa helps with the dishes "because all functional humans should learn how to clean up after themselves and help others." At school and at her after school enrichment program, Lisa enjoys "play based learning," "LEGO robotics and painting." The inspired last line: "Lisa was glad she was growing up in a society free of gender bias and misogyny."

Polvino shared her updated version on her Facebook page, where friends and family quickly began sharing it. The piece garnered more than 1,800 shares and 4,000 reactions as it spread, and though some commenters claimed to not see anything wrong with the original, most supported Polvino's message: She wanted the story, she told Today, "to reflect the kind of world I want to live in, the kind of world I want my kids to live in when they're old enough to have jobs and families."