Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grumpy Mornings

A perpetually excited little terrier jumping up and down next to my head at 5:00 in the morning is not my favorite way to start the day. I try to put a pillow over my head and ignore her, but she is insistent. I know she is trying to tell me she needs to go out, and if I don't listen, I know I will have a mess to clean up later. It's freezing when I get out of bed, and Bouncy Dog decides to run down the hill, chasing a skunk and barking her head off. When I return from rounding her up, sleep is elusive.

By 6:30, I give up on the idea of sleep and decide I'll try to get some work done on the computer before the kids wake up.

By 7:00, I am trying not to curse because my new work laptop is giving me grief again and telling me I am not authorized to do anything. The IT folks at work are not in yet, and even if they were, I know if I get on the phone that no matter how softly I speak, my children will hear me with their bionic ears, and I will be ON for the day. So, I try just getting on my personal laptop to read some emails. Husband is next to me, trying to chat, as if we have not been married for over 15 years, and he has never had the opportunity to notice I am not chatty at this hour.

At least he made me coffee, but before I can enjoy it, I hear rustling, and know that my Boy Child is up. I try not to growl because that isn't a nice way to greet your family in the morning, but it is only 7 stinking 15. I operating on very little sleep. I have been up for over two hours during which I've had about 30 seconds to myself, and I have done absolutely nothing that I would have wanted to do. At least I don't have to rush off anywhere today. That would definitely make things worse. Breakfast and books with my kids I can do, even if I am sleep deprived.

I know there are homeschooling families who get up at the crack of dawn each day and gather around to start on their morning lessons. I've met them, yet I just don't quite understand. One of the top reasons I love homeschooling is the ability to wake when we're ready. Even if we don't actually sleep in very often, I prefer at least to not have to deal with people outside of my immediate family early in the morning.

There are times when we do have to get up early and go places, and we do manage, so it's not like we're incompetent. I just really prefer to make those days a minority, as the scowl lines they leave on my face are hard, if not impossible, to get rid of. On the occasions we do head into town with all the other regular 8:00 to 5:00 folks, I find myself looking around at school kids standing in ice waiting for buses and parents rushing off to work, and wonder what on earth we are all thinking? Most people don't really look that happy and ready to greet the day. They look rushed and tired, and I wonder if wherever we are all heading to is really all that important that we need to be on the road getting in each others way? Sure, a few people look all bright and cheery, but they are the minority, and they just baffle me. I do not usually feel bright nor cheery. I'd much rather be drinking coffee and reading books at home.

I really, really, really appreciate starting the day in a leisurely way without alarms, or a little dog bouncing and then barking for that matter. A little quiet time to myself before I greet the world really goes a long way. I also really, really appreciate when my kids sleep in so I can have this. I'm so much nicer when I'm relaxed. We all are.

I've heard of parents waking kids on weekends solely for the sake of making them get up, and I just don't quite get it. Personally, there is no way on earth I would wake a sleeping, and thereby perfectly happy and quiet child, unless I actually needed to.

I know, I know, I've been told a million times, "The early bird gets the worm." Well, maybe I don't want the worm. I've also been told that I should really be making my kids get up early and go so they can get used to the stress of it. Well, I lived with the stress of it my entire childhood, and a good chunk of my adulthood. I don't really feel any better off for it. I certainly don't like it or look forward to it as an adult. My Girl Child said it nicely when at about 5 years old, an adult gave her the early bird / worm lecture. She responded "Yes, but the night owl gets the big, fat, juicy mouse!"

So, we're accepting that not everyone has to get up early and rush out into the world everyday. For now, we are night owls. We can read, study, play and learn just as well after 8 AM, and can probably deal with the outside world more productively after we have had nice, quiet mornings to ourselves. When and if we have to, we will do the early bird routine, but why go looking for extra struggles when life will surely hand you plenty of them anyway?

I'm curious how many homeschooling families wake their kids just to start "school at home" and how many just let them sleep and wake to learn when ready if they have no other obligations?