Monday, November 09, 2009

The Hypocrisy of the Night Owl

OK, I don't know why I didn't just take the booklight out of her room last night. That would have been the proactive and responsible thing to do. She had it on her nightstand and her magazine was propped up right next to it, still open at the page we had stopped her to go to bed. Jason noted the booklight's presence and said, "Don't read tonight after we leave the room." I observed the small luminary and said, "Don't stay up and read -- you'll never get out of bed on time in the morning if you do." Sadie didn't really say anything back to us, which is to her credit. She does not like to tell outright falsehoods.

So we kissed her and prayed and kissed her again and said "g'night." And we went to our room to make the bed -- not a euphemism; I had just washed the sheets. And, after we were done, Jason pricked his ear toward Sadie's room and confided, "She's reading in there." I whispered, "Well, I'll pounce in and surprise her."

I threw open her door with a big "Aha!" I was met with silence and darkness.

"Not to worry," I reported to Jason. "She's already asleep." Except, she wasn't. She was just faster and wilier than her mom.

So, this morning, at 8:10 AM I swooped into Sadie's room, swept the covers from her prostrate form, opened the shutters and said, "Good morning, sleepy-head! Time to get up! What do you want for breakfast?" She muttered and groaned and clawed the covers back up over her head.

Do I really need to spell out the rest? It was like reliving a scene from my own childhood. Except, now I was the cruel, heartless mother and Sadie was the oppressed, tired victim of a diurnal world. And, even as I was parroting back the exact phrases my mother used against my own grumblings and complaints, my heart just wasn't in it. Secretly, oh so secretly, I was on Sadie's side. Because, I think that staying up as late as you want to read and then sleeping in as late as possible in the morning is just about the best thing ever.

I remember as a child being so in love with books that I would risk the formidable wrath of my mother to sneak on a light after bedtime and peruse the magical world of the written word well into the night. My keen ears were always on alert for the ominous sound of my mother's footsteps coming down the hall. Then, quick as a flash, the light was off and I was still. (Ah, my own motherly pride swells to think that Sadie must have inherited my particular genius for this ruse.) As soon as the steps retreated, click went the light and back into wonder I went. Of course, in the morning, the same drama was played out: I wailed and moaned and booed and hissed and my mother, exerting both her will of iron and uncanny ability to brook no dissent, would march me out of bed and through the morning routine and off to school. So it was with me and Sadie this morning.

You know, I had always planned on homeschooling my children. When I first told this to Jason, back in the day, he laughed and commented, "You just don't want to have to get up early to take them to school." And there was more than a kernel of truth in that. In my mind, I could see myself, surround by a chirping, adoring brood, going on learning adventures in the afternoons, reading and journaling all night, and sleeping in a peaceful jumble every morning. My life has not played out that way. I was given a social butterfly for a daughter who thrives in the company of many children and excels in school to a great degree. I was blessed by the most awesome job ever in the loving care of the sweet little girl I nanny -- an almost perfect job with one flaw: I have to arise in the wee sma's to get ready for her arrival. Ouch! So, Sadie is in school, which she loves; except, she also loves to read and stay up late. And there's the rub.

So, I am a hypocrite -- the night owl who doth hoot too much. While I argue and assert that, yes, it is important to get up early and get to school on time, and, no, staying up late to read is not appropriate on school nights, and I don't care that you're tired, that's your own fault, I really want to send Sadie back to bed, slough off school, and hang out with her all day, reading and talking and learning together. Do you think that there is a chance here that my extrovert of a child will someday prefer to be homeschooled? Will the lure of late night adventures in the realm of the printed page someday outweigh the call of leading your social set at school? I can only hope. One thing is sure: once I stop watching Rylee and Sadie is on summer vacation, it's going to be a hoot and a half for two very nocturnal creatures.

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