The Inevitable Creep of Bedtime

fictionStarting now, Sunday night bedtime for my kids is going to have to be 8pm.

We all overslept this morning, so it is not entirely their fault, but they were certainly the last ones up and moving. It was a big weekend and we were all exhausted. They had karate on Saturday morning, my son went to play with friends, we drove them to the babysitter for an overnight slumber party (that included visiting dogs and cats), and then my wife and I went to the Voodoo Carnival down in Cincinnati to sell the last of my masks.

The show ended (for us) a little after one, drove to a hotel, poured a glass of wine, and fell asleep before finishing it. Then back the 2.5 hours Sunday morning, pick up the kids, go to the retail job, come home, crash again by 9:30 pm.

So I know that they were tired. That fact still did not get them into bed by 8:30. It was much closer to 9, and probably firmly on the other side, when finally stayed in his room and attempted to go to sleep.

There is always another story to read, another glass of water to drink, pajamas that are too itchy… whatever. Stall tactics.

And then there comes Monday morning. They won’t get up. Can’t find their toothbrush. Coats have to be reassembled after washing.

“Wait, I haven’t finished my breakfast!” says the girl who eats slower than a worm.

“I can’t find my folder!” says the boy who knows better than to take it out of his book bag.

Still, I think we were technically on time… depending on how fast they managed to walk to their classrooms. They were certainly in the front doors by 8:54, and not a moment sooner.

Oh yeah, did I mention it was snowing?

So… As I have noted before, I try different tactics each week to get the boy up and moving. I have to, as he quickly becomes immune to the latest one. I once heard, or read, that a good way to wake up a sleepwalker (or someone having a nightmare) without startling them, is to ask an absurd question that they cannot reasonably answer. It forces the mind to deal with the paradox and slowly brings them round to consciousness.

My wife has terrible nightmares. I never remember to ask her a question in the middle of the night. I just shake her and say “It is just a bad dream. Tell them to shut up and leave you alone so I can get some sleep.”

In the morning though, I am a tad bit more aware of the situation. Thus, the question: “Have you fed the elephants?”

This was the question that I remember from the story about waking people up. Oddly enough, it was also mentioned years later in a convention panel as a great “safe phrase” for bondage activities. I wasn’t in the panel, but I caught it walking by on the way to my own panel about something not nearly as interesting and my only thought was, “Not if you are a zoo keeper.”

The issue at hand though was that this phrase alone would not be enough to rouse my son from his slumber. After all, turning on the lights, yanking off the covers, and telling him to get up and get dressed before we were too late had not already achieved the desired effect.

Enter, the silly song.

Now, when I sang this one, I used my son’s full name. I try not to ever use my kids names on the internet, so I have substituted his name with trumpet blasts. You know, like the kind the band Chicago is known for.

In retrospect, I realize that it would probably only take one verse of the song if I had such an awesome brass section ready to go at 8 o’clock in the morning. Granted, they all had a rough Mardi Gras weekend too, and are most likely sleeping till noon.

So here it is, my silly wake up song, minus his name and add in the trumpets. It is not Shakespeare, but I wrote it on the fly while still mostly asleep myself, so please cut me some slack.

Ba dum bum baaaa! Have you fed the elephants?
Ba dum bum baaaa! Did you see that lizard in the funny pants?
Ba dum bum baaaa! Will you wear your jetpack to school today?
Ba dum bum baaaa! What’s for breakfast? How ’bout some hay?

Like a horse, like a horse, like a horse…

Ba dum bum baaa! There are penquins in the living room!
Ba dum bum baaa! Hurry up, the rocket ship will blast off soon!
Ba dum bum baaa! Are you swinging with the circus today?
Ba dum bum baaa! Your bill is due, but how will you pay?

Like a horse, like a horse, like a horse… 

Ba dum bum baaa! Should I wear a tutu to work today?
Ba dum bum baaa! If you spoke Chinese, then what would you say?
Ba dum bum baaa! You’ve got to get up and go to school!
Ba dum bum baaa! Unless your don’t care if you are a fool.

Like a horse, like a horse, like a horse.

“Horses aren’t fools! Unless it is a baby horse.”

“That is a foal. Not a fool. A baby horse is a foal.”

“Oh. Right..”

“You have seven minutes till I walk out the door. You have socks on, you have pants on. So even if I took you to school in only that I think it is enough to keep me out of jail. Move your butt child, we are going to be late!”

8:54 on the nose. Mission accomplished. Now I have to write comedy for 5th grade MCs at Friday’s talent show.

Heaven help us all.



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