I went to sixth grade orientation last week. My actual sixth grader didn’t go and wasn’t oriented because she was still at camp. I admit that I did a pretty poor job of orienting myself, under the theory that I am not going to have to be able to find the classes, nor will I be able to help my daughter find the classes, and all the teachers are the same ones my son had two years ago so I don’t need to meet them. The school is a brand new school that still smells like paint, so everyone, including teachers, will be lost the first few days anyway.
I did find out that my daughter’s bus will pick her up at 6:03 am. Not 6:02, not 6:04, but 6:03. Of course, based on my experience with putting children on public school buses for the eight years prior to this year, the actual time will be anywhere from 5:50am and 6:20, probably closer to 6:30 on the first day.
I’m guessing that most of you who are reading this have never met my daughter or, if you have, you have never laid eyes on her at a time that begins with the number 6. For that matter, I have hardly ever laid eyes on her that early, at least not in recent years, and I have the parental right to barge into her room whenever I want. Of course, I don’t want to barge in anywhere at 6:00am. I don’t want to be anywhere but in bed that early. I only want to have theoretical knowledge that 6:00am is a thing. I don’t want to have witnessed it my own self.
My daughter? Way worse than me when it comes to mornings. As far as she’s concerned, it is inhuman to require her to speak or interact or roll out of bed any time before noon. I have no idea how I’m going to get her out of bed in time to be at the end of the driveway at 6. Especially since her brother, who wakes up chipper and chatty, will be, and I quote, “hogging the bathroom.” I’m thinking it might be easier to just let her stay up until it is time to go to school, and then let her nap in the afternoon. I think she could handle that better.
All of which begs the question: why, in a world basically structured around 9 to 5, did anyone think it was a good idea for teenagers to start functioning intellectually at 7:25 am, or whatever off beat time it is that school actually starts. Anyone who has ever been a teenager or interacted with a teenager or watched more than 5 minutes of television knows that teenagers can’t do anything that requires thought beyond “socks go on feet; head goes through the neck hole of the shirt” early in the morning. I can’t believe that the kids wouldn’t learn more if they could start learning at 10:00am instead.
And, more to the point, as if raising two children so thick in the middle of puberty that you can smell the Clearasil from three blocks away wasn’t difficult enough, I am going to have to start getting up at 5:00am just to supervise the whole mess and ensure compliance. Which means that if I want the 8 hours of sleep I’m told is required to get in order to be well rested and fully functional, I’m going to have to go to bed at 9:00pm. I’m not even HOME by 9:00pm some days. And if I EVER want to watch the end of a ballgame, I’m not going to be able to get enough sleep.
Now, I know that I’m not nearly the only one in this boat, and that teachers have to get up that early every day no matter what. I’m just wondering if anyone actually thought about that before making this insane schedule.
But back to my daughter: how exactly I am going to force her out of bed at 5:00am is a mystery for the ages. I may resort to a bucket of ice, air horns, or physically dragging her. I don’t think that taking away her iPhone is going to work, because in order for a threat to be effective, she’d have to be capable of higher order thinking: understanding the concept of future payment for current behavior, and being able to properly order her values/wants – what is more important? The phone or 5 more minutes of sleep? She’s not awake enough to understand cause and effect, or even to recognize the pointlessness or arguing about it.
Resistance is futile, little girl. Get used to it.
Meanwhile, for realsies and for seriousness, if anyone has any ideas or tried and true methods for getting a night owl moving in the early morning, I’m all ears: please tell me in the comments below.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Told You…” is set to be released in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.