Somewhere along the line, I'm guessing around the same time period when my hangover recovery time lengthened, my taste for oatmeal developed and my ability to fall asleep in the middle of a crowded movie theater while watching an action film complete with explosions developed, I became a morning person. I realized this today as my sons stumbled around the house, bleary-eyed and bed-headed, and whined about having to go to school.
For a few moments, I had no sympathy. "They slept for at least ten hours," my adult mind rationalized. "I would kill for that much sleep."
I threatened to put them in bed at sundown for the remainder of the winter if they didn't get moving. Video games were this close to being taken away for the week and I was stomping around the house, untying knots in shoelaces and sternly announcing with clenched teeth, "You can take it off when you get to school, but you are putting that sweater on before you leave this house or so help me, God..." This must have been a real treat for my wife, whom I so graciously allowed to (try to) get some extra sleep.
Once the clumsy preparations were complete, I stood with my boys at our front door and asked, "Does everyone have everything," prior to opening the door to the frigid morning air.
"Yep," they both responded in robotic passivity.
I stared directly at my seven-year-old whose book bag was not over his shoulder where it belonged. "Do you have your book bags," I asked.
"Yes," they both answered again, completely missing the verbally italicized reference to their book bags.
It was then, as I looked at the expression on the face of my younger son, the blank stare of cattle being led to slaughter, not really caring anymore if the details were covered and just wanting to get on with it, that my memory sparked. At his same age and for many years to come afterward (as my parents and college professors can likely attest) I was the same way in the mornings. I was mad the world for waking me, convinced that a perpetual fifteen more minutes would have been all I needed to be fully refreshed. How unreasonable of you to awaken me before it was absolutely necessary, world.
My memory began to flood with all the cereal I begrudgingly ate without tasting it and naps with my forehead on the kitchen table that ended with my father shouting, "Wake up!" into my ear. I remembered the fact that I was so sleepy while commuting to high school that the half hour bus ride took three minutes from my perspective. I remembered getting notes off of classmates that were actually mature enough to regularly make it to the nine AM class that they had scheduled and I remember specifically avoiding any classes that started before noon for the remainder of my college life.
As I said, somewhere along the line, I unwittingly became the morning person that I am now. Years of shift work and waking in the middle of the night to distressed cries only to be greeted by a loaded diaper have removed what mysterious pleasure being awake amongst the darkness used to hold. Now I have a near religious reverence for the sunlight that I have been deprived of for so long. I may be hard to wake, but once I get up and the light hits my eyes, it has such an overwhelming effect on my energy levels that I begin to wonder if I am from the planet Krypton (Get it? because the yellow sun of earth gave Superman hi... never mind).
But it took many years of adult life to cause this drastic change in my body clock. It was beaten into me by work, responsibility, societal norms and probably a bunch of other uninteresting stuff that gets forced down our throats as we grow up into real people. Just throw fiber, politics, adult contemporary music and taxes on that list while you're at it.
My point is that it's all too heavy for a kid and I realized I shouldn't expect my sons to be at my level, nor should I want them to be just yet.
I snagged the book bag off the couch and as my son said, "Oops," I smiled and tousled his hair, which actually improved it. Then it was off to school.
I say, keep up the good fight, boys. Your old man might have given in, but it's not to late for you. Let the night still hold it's wonder. Try to stay up and enjoy it all you can. Just keep quiet so I can get some sleep because I have bills to pay in the morning.