I love my kids. I love their laughter, their energy (most of the time), their curiosity, and I really love the fact that they are in the age range where mom and dad are still some of the coolest people on the planet. It makes life fun, even when it seems overwhelming.
What I don’t love is their biorhythm. Their internal body clocks suck.
Now, the bedtime part is aces – they get tired around 8:00 PM every night, and are ready for bed at that point or shortly after. At first, I thought this was horrible – being a night person and accustomed to hanging out with people until 10:00, 11:00 at night, it was tough at first to get accustomed to their sudden transformation into snarling, weeping hyenas. But now, I have to admit it’s nice. Their bedtime routine is a lot of fun (bath, lotion, jammmies, crazy dance party to selected songs from the 70s, 80s, and hip-hop) and they usually go to bed having laughed themselves silly at their parents’ expense.
Then, my wife and I get at least two hours of relative peace. That, my friends, is a win-win. Bedtime rocks.
But the opposite end of their body clocks is waking up. As someone once said, “Early to bed, early to rise”, and I think that person presaged my children when offering that bit of wisdom. Or possibly they had kids of their own.
Take this morning for example. Rachel got up and put some coffee on and brought Jon in the bed with us. At first, Jon just lay there drinking his morning milk, but after a few minutes and the appearance of a very bored Ella, the bed turned into a writhing pit of children. Jon headbutted me on accident (which left a nice mark) and Ella began putting her feet on whatever warm body parts she could find. I don’t know why my daughter has circulatory problems that turn her feet into chunks of ice, but when she puts those frigid footsies into the small of your back it can be quite alarming.
Normally Rachel is a morning person, or at least kind of one. I can remember when we first got married she would roll over at like 6:45 in the morning, poke me in the head and ask, “Are you awake?” with a huge freaking smile on her face. That changed a bit once we had Ella; she still gets moving a lot faster than me, but she doesn’t smile anymore. She tends to take the kids’ invasion a bit more gracefully than I do.
I am not a morning person. Except for the morning serving as a reminder that I lived to see another day, I don’t find much to recommend about it. I’m groggy, sleepy, tired, normally look like a yak trampled me, and thanks to my sinuses I usually have breath that would make a dragon whimper. I don’t get cranked up until 10:30 at the earliest.
So when the kids crash the bed and start bouncing, pulling covers, poking me in the eye, sticking their feet in my face, kicking me in the stomach, doing flying rolls across my belly, and just plain old aggravating the tar out of me, I have to take a moment and remember they do this out of love.
And manipulation, but hey – no one thinks warmly of manipulation. Love, on the other hand, we give a wide berth. So I think about the fact that they love me and want to spend the morning with me.
The truth is, they want me to turn on the television, which in our house requires three different remote controls and an access code from NASA. Once I’ve turned on their morning drug, they leave me alone for a while. But once I have my coffee in hand and settle down on the couch, at least one of them will find their way to my side and burrow down against my chest beneath my arm as if I were a warm blanket. It’s a little slice of heaven – until the other one wants to join the party. Kids competing for your affection sounds nice, until you realize that at least one of them is probably going to step on your gonads during the contest. Then, it’s a little slice of pain.
I wish my kids could/would sleep later. But even this morning, despite the meltdowns, despite the feet in the face or my son pulling on my head saying, “Way cup!”, I watch them and realize this is a special time for our family. We get to be together every morning and spend time with one another. Not every family gets to do that (in fact, until just the past two months, we didn’t get to do that as I had to leave for work before God woke up). So the early wake up yell is worth it, because our kids get to know that we love them.
And soon enough they’ll be teenagers. I won’t have to worry about them waking up early then. They’ll sleep in and so will I.
Or I might just get myself a little bit of revenge. After all it’s best served cold.