How to Get Up in the Morning
The other morning, I went to my daughter's room to wake her up. She was dead asleep, nestled into her quilts. I spoke her name, and instantly she was upright, her dark eyes darting with merriment. She even did this nutty snap-that-turns-into-a-finger-gun thing, like someone warming up the crowd at the Voulez Vous Lounge in Eureka Springs, AR : "Hey, there, Mama-jama! No sleepyheads here! How ya doing this beautiful A in the M? Don't forget to tip your waitress!"
Where we got her was, see, one day this giant seed pod drifted out of the sky and into the back yard, and when we opened it up, she was inside, wide awake. The only thing we can guess is that she is a foundling from another race, one whose ways are foreign, whose body chemistry is strange, whose way of looking at the world is utterly opposite to everything familiar to me. Yes, my daughter is a Morning Person.
Thank goodness we have at least one of these in the house. We adults are pretty definitively Night People, and this means that when the alarm goes off at half-past-death o'clock, we are faced with what seems like a monstrously cruel and impossible task: getting out of bed.
Once I'm up, I'm fine. I seize the moment, I swallow the frog, I grab the bull by the horns, and so on. But all those frogs and bulls are on the other side of the cold, cold room, and I am in my nice, warm bed. It's not just that it's hard to get out of bed. It feels like it's actually wrong, an offence against decency, like scribbling on a Botticelli or throwing rocks at swans. There's something so beautiful going on here. You'd have to have a heart of stone to ruin it on purpose.
Luckily, I have helpers. Here are some of the ways they assist me each morning:
Making the bed a place of torment and misery. The baby is especially good at this. She sleeps in her own crib, and is not allowed in our bed until 6 a.m. She gets around this rule by -- I don't know how. She just flies into the bed and attaches herself to me like a magnet. At first, it's warm and snoogily and wonderful, straight out of a La Leche League flyer. But once she gets rid of that terrible empty feeling her tummy, she wants to keep nursing, but she also wants to amuse herself. She does this by using her prehensile toes for evil. Now, this is a kid who's so new at walking that she has to run, because if she stops, she'll tip over. This is someone who sometimes accidentally feeds a spoonful of applesauce into her ear. Not the most dexterous or agile person in the world. And yet she has this unerring ability to zero in on the most tender areas, lock on, and twist. Monster! Getting up, getting up!
Making the non-bed areas of the house an emergency zone, so that consequences for not getting out of bed too horrible to contemplate. The preschool kids are especially good at this one. They aren't especially cheerful in the morning, and goodness knows nobody asked them to get up. But they shuffle down the stairs in their saggy pajamas bright and early and start right in on their busy campaign of terror. "Mama," they call, "Why is 'juice' spelled with a 'A-M-M-O-N-I-A?'" Or if they are being especially considerate, I will hear, "NO! NO! DON'T TELL HER! HERE, YOU CAN BITE MY NECK!"
Being really, really good about it. Say the alarm clock went off 25 minutes ago, and before the day has even begun, I'm already behind. Instead of making coffee and inspecting lunches and signing permission slips and brushing hair and locating mittens and pouring milk and administering pep talks, I'm just lying there like a moth-eaten bear pelt, thinking about how unreasonable it is that someone like me, who never wanted anything out of life except a little bit of damn sleep once in a while, like maybe on my birthday, if that's not too much to ask (not that it's actually my birthday, but it wouldn't make a bit of difference if it were), and just look at all the responsibilities I have, and I guess it's just out of the question for anybody but me to ever lift a finger . . .
. . . and then I hear a diffident knock on the door, and my oldest girl whispers, "Mama? Mama? Did you want me to warm up the car?"
Okay. Getting up now. Somebody pour me a mug of ammonia.