Rude Awakening a.k.a. Rise and Shine Champ

teen sleepingThe dude is the spitting image of his father. See him first thing in the morning, however, and there is no doubt that he is his mother’s son.

My husband pops out of bed each morning at 5 a.m. and runs. I don’t even try to walk to the bathroom until I’ve checked email on my IPhone and I hear the dude’s alarm go off. His alarm is loud. We bought it for him two years ago when he kept sleeping through the beep each morning. This alarm honks. It flashes red lights, and makes  his mattress shake.

He sleeps through it anyway. It irritates me enough, however, to go tell him to wake up. I knock on his door and open it to let the cat in. If the hallway light isn’t enough to rouse him, the cat will head butt him until he surrenders. I check Facebook and a couple of news sites and if he’s still not awake, I go in and nudge him again. Once he’s in the shower, I go back to sleep. It’s a functioning system.

That is, unless my husband gets home from his run before I am awake enough to wake up the dude. If he comes upstairs and the dude isn’t in the shower, he rousts the dude himself.

The dude does not like this.

What he tells me is that my husband opens the door, pulls the covers off and says “Time to get up Champ! The sun is shining, let’s go get ’em Tiger!”

The reality is that my husband basically does exactly what I do–he opens the door, nudges the child and says “Get up.”  Unlike me, however, there is no implied message of  “Get up already, I want to go back to sleep, so if you miss the bus you’re walking to school.”  I guess that qualifies as perky.

I remember feeling the same way at that age. My recollection is that my mom would sing to me and ask me how I was. I started getting up early to avoid it. Telling her that I don’t know the $%^& I am, but I’m not sleeping so probably could be better, would likely get me grounded. I have a feeling, however, that she probably just knocked on the door and said, “Get up.” Like my son, I just remember it differently.

Yesterday was the dude’s last day of school. I did wake him up, but my husband came in from his run just as the child was heading out the door.  My husband said a simple “Hey Dude.”

I could hear the dude sigh all the way upstairs. His voice was a flat monotone. “Are the garbage cans still in the garage?”

“Nope,” said my husband. “Garbage doesn’t go out until tomorrow.”

“Oh. Right.” The dude opened the door but my husband stopped him.

“Hey–Have a great day, Champ!”  I could hear the fake exuberance in my husband’s voice. I love my husband.

The dude paused. “I’ll forget you said that.”

No he won’t. His father is counting on it.


Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph “Teen Boy” by Husin Sani © 2007 Creative Commons

Does a bear sleep in the winter?

bear sleepingMy morning routine is pretty simple. My alarm goes off at 5:35. I check my email on my Iphone, then knock on my son’s door and tell him to get up. After that’s done, I get back in bed. Sometimes I have to get up once or twice more to cajole him into the shower or to speed his progress in getting dressed. My primary goal is to make sure he gets out the door on time. My secondary goal is to go back to sleep.

My son takes after me. He does not like to get up early. If we’re allowed to sleep until we’re no longer tired, we are both very pleasant morning people. Okay, maybe late morning people. Today I got up at 8:30 because I had to. If I could have slept another hour I’d feel better about my prospects for the day. If my son got to sleep as much as I do, he’d probably feel better too. At a minimum, he wouldn’t walk out the door with “$@&#$! morning” written all over his face.

My acupuncturist says that my need for rest is a natural result of  yin season–a time for rest and retreat. It’s not unlike hibernation. I’m all over that concept. My morning slumber is not the tangled, deeply mired sleep of depression. It’s restorative, languid, warm and happy. My cats jump up on the bed and curl up against my back, my familiars and kindred spirits. When I get up, I feel  full of ideas and energy.

When I wake up at 5:30, and get to work, yes, I have more time at my disposal. Unfortunately, it also takes me twice as long to do everything. I make more errors, drink more coffee and take more breaks. Most of all, I don’t approach my work with joy. I’m not going to lie and say I’m producing as much output as I would if I didn’t snooze all morning. I’m not delusional. But for me, attitude is a critical difference between being a humor writer and a grouchy cynic that writes mean stuff about other people.

In our uber-productive world, I don’t think we value sleep as much as we ought to. When I’m running back into bed to catch that extra hour of sleep, I feel ridiculously happy. So I say, screw it, hibernation it is. Bears have tapped into a deep well of instinctive reasoning. Sure, life is too short to waste, but isn’t staring at a blank screen thinking “I’m sooooo tired, I really wish I was sleeping” just another way of wasting it?

Phil the groundhog says spring will come early, but the weatherman says we might get a foot of snow midweek, so when will my hibernation end? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure, however, that when daylight savings time hits next week, and it’s dark in the morning, you’ll know where to find me. But don’t bother. After all, you wouldn’t poke a sleeping bear, would you? Didn’t think so.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Jovana © 2006 Creative Commons

Let Sleeping Wives Lie

My husband is a morning person. I am not.

I take a long time to wake up. After my alarm goes off, I listen to NPR for a while, check the email on my phone, and maybe play a game or two of solitaire. I might see if there is a good photo essay on Flavorwire, or  scan the headlines on CNN.

I could get up and get some work done, but I don’t. I like to linger. At some point early in the lingering process, my husband will come in, having finished his run. He’s disturbingly, annoyingly awake. My husband doesn’t do perky, but when he comes in, he’s all too happy to announce that he just ran five miles.

It’s dark out. Really dark out. He runs with a headlamp. That takes some major dedication. He says it’s very quiet. The idea of that kind of peacefulness is compelling, but then I feel the cool sheets, think “whatever,” and tee up another game of solitaire. I’m still there when my husband leaves for work. He laughs when he kisses me goodbye.

I finally get up when I have to roust my son out of bed for school. He’s even worse than I am.

If I could, I’d stay up late at night, and get up mid-morning. When I was young and single and didn’t need much sleep, I got a lot done after 10 p.m.  When my son was a baby, we had deep, meaningful thought exchanges in the wee hours. The rest of the world, however, doesn’t work that way.

I understand why my husband loves getting up early. He beats the traffic, which around D.C. is no small deal. The toll road hasn’t gone HOV only, and the school buses aren’t out yet. He gets a couple of hours of uninterrupted work time, which I know he treasures. When I’m up early, I have time to write this blog, start a load of laundry, get to the early sculpt class at the gym.

It’s all great, in theory. In practice, it means we go to bed at 10:00 p.m. I miss those late hours. They felt like my secret. My husband tells me that it’s the same thing in the early morning, or it would be, if I’d get out of bed. It’s not the same though, since nobody really wants to claim 4:30 a.m. 1:00 a.m. is dangerous, forbidden, seductive time. 4:30 is lunatic, workaholic, I-don’t-have-a-life time.

I wonder what it will be like when my son goes to college.  How late will I sleep when I don’t have to get him out the door every morning? I suspect I’ll keep the same schedule, more or less. My husband says I’ll get used to it, that studies show as we age we need less sleep. We’ve been married over twenty years, so you think he’d have learned that the studies show that as he ages he needs less sleep.

“We” is not “I,”  pal. Turn the lights off and shut the door on your way out, and I’ll see you when you get home.

Words by J. B. Everett

 Photograph by Sasha Wolff © 2007 Creative Commons