We have begun practicing waking up early enough for school. With one child headed to middle school and one to high school, I worry that the respective buses will come and go without my children on board.
I need to believe that they will arise from bed, dress and feed themselves, and commit to a basic hygiene regimen without my supervision. They are too old and I am too tired for me to have to wake up my sleeping children.
In a hilarious twist of karmic irony, my youngest child, someone who is still and entire year away from kindergarten, is awake and ready for school every day, weekends included, by the time the newspaper has been dropped in the driveway.
She will, of course, lose this zeal by the time it is useful to me. In fact, she currently wakes up early and dresses herself and then demands that I wake up to make her breakfast. It is a little like she is a particularly demanding passenger on a cruise ship where I am the chef.
Anyway, the bigger two must practice getting up early enough to forestall the necessity for me to ever have to drive someone to school in my pajamas. I am already stretching my personal resources getting myself up and ready for work without having to manage waking up any other person.
I have trouble getting up and out the door when I am the only person who needs to emerge from the house ready for the day. That's all I can manage and that requires an act of will and the immediate administration of caffeine. In fact, I think that there should be a restriction on my driver's license preventing me from driving without at least eight ounces of coffee in me.
Today was the first day of this effort to make my older children more autonomous. If my son was going to make a bus forat 6:45, I figured that he would need to wake up around 6:15. I told him the night before that he would need to get himself up at that time.
I left for work at 6:00 knowing that the screeching alarm clock would be going off a few minutes later. I felt a little guilty subjecting my first-born child to this rehearsal for the absolute end of summer and comforted myself that he would benefit from getting on this schedule early.
I had given my daughter a similar warning that her days of sleeping in were over. Because she is notorious for her sleeping capacity and meeting the bus would be hard for her, I had unilaterally decided that catching a 7:20 bus would require that Scout have more than an ordinary alarm clock prompting her.
Her transition from slumber to wakefulness would be accommodated by a clock which not only made a sound like a howler monkey but also triggered a flashing light so that her first moments of awareness might resemble the methods by which some people coax government secrets from prisoners of war.
My poor little girl was going to have a rough morning, but it would be good for her in the long run to set her biological rhythms to the school schedule. Besides, her dad would have to deal with her ire because I would be 20 miles away before that torture device of an alarm clock went off.
And I think that is precisely why I was willing to do this to my kids two full weeks before school starts. If I have to get up at 5:30 every day, then they can get up early too. We can all go to bed early as a family.
However, I still felt a little bad so I called my husband at 8:30 to see how the morning had gone. He was glad I had called. He was concerned that our alarm system was malfunctioning.
It seems that it went off for 20 minutes about half an hour after I had left. I was very concerned to hear this as our alarm system was not on.
Then, I came upon an alternative explanation.
"Lance, did Henry and Scout get up with their alarms this morning?"
My husband responded as if I had asked whether our children had staged a reading of Shakespeare.
"What? No, they're both still sleeping."
I explained the failings of my efforts to practice a school schedule and the rolling of his eyes was nearly audible over the phone.
Don't tell them, but my children are in for a surprise tomorrow. I refuse to be the one waking them up for school this year so I am not giving up my plans to force them to arise without me.
I will offer my youngest child the most scrumptious breakfast. I will begin describing its splendor immediately after dinner this evening.
There will be eggs and pancakes and the cereal of her choice. It will be served at 6:30 in the morning, just when she finds herself ready to eat.
And then I will let her know that her brother and sister are cooking. There's no way they will sleep through that wake-up call.