Top of the morning

For about six years, I’ve had a theory about what makes certain people sleepyheads, and what makes others get up early – way too early – in the morning. For my research, I have used human guinea pigs.

Exhibit A, “Son”, gets up at the crack of dawn and refuses to go back to sleep, fearing that he will miss something while asleep. What that might be is a topic for another study for which I don’t have funding yet.

Exhibit B, “Daughter”, refuses to get up at all, kicking and screaming everybody and everything within, well, a kicking distance from her bed. Once up, though, all sunshine.

“Son” was born in the middle of the night, 2.58 am, and “Daughter” in the evening, at 6.30 pm.

Here she's just six years, 11 months and 12 days old.

And my hypothesis goes like this: that’s how you know if you’re a morning person or not. Son got out and about in the wee hours for the first time, and has always been a morning person. Daughter waited until the evening, and she’s always more of an evening person (because yes, she certainly doesn’t like to go to bed).

The funny thing about Daughter is that as soon as she’s awake, she’s the happiest, funniest, loveliest person in the world, and it’s not just me saying that. Wife thinks so, too. It’s just that it takes a concerted effort to get to that happy place.

That’s why, if we have to leave early in the morning, she gets to sleep in her clothes.

Sometimes our household turns into a vaudeville show in the morning. A vaudeville show with an audience of one, and she doesn’t even have her eyes open. But there I am, with Krtek, a hand puppet of the Czech mole, in one hand, and Krtek’s buddy, the little mouse in the other.

“Hey, mouse, wanna see something funny?” I’ll say and when the mouse says “yes”, as he most often does, I launch into a pretty elaborated song and dance number.

Now, that was years ago, and doesn’t work that well anymore. Daughter’s seen all the Krtek shows and isn’t looking forward to new ones. Fortunately, just as Krtek’s magic vanished, Wife’s little monologue as “the Lion” worked and got Daughter up in no time. In just 15 to 20 minutes.

We’ve joked, we’ve screamed, and we’ve carried her to the downstairs sofa for an extra five-minute nap. We’ve sang and we’ve danced, we’ve played her favorite tunes, and sure, every once in a while I’ve teased her, trying to get her to snap out a dream.

We look forward to December because in December she likes to get up to watch the advent calendar on TV, almost on her own.

We’ve played tricks, we’ve had treasure hunts, and we’ve done gymnastics to get her to wake up, and not be cranky. But cranky she is.

It’s a fascinating transformation because by the time she then gets to the breakfast table, thirty minutes after the rest of the family, her hair pointing every which way, and her pajamas hanging on her, she’s all smiles and hugs, and full of life.

This morning, the three of us, Son, Wife and I, tiptoed into her room, Wife carrying a tray with a sandwich and a cup of tea, Son holding onto a small box, and me with a camera in my hand. And we sang. We sang “Happy birthday” to Daughter who turns seven today, and who’s been counting down the days since early February.

She got up in a second, with a big smile on her face, and listened to us finish the song. Then she gave us big hugs, and her big hair was pointing every which way, and she blew out the candle that was also on the tray.

After she had opened her presents – Son insisted on buying her jewelry on his own – she looked at Wife.

“You know, I was already awake when you guys walked in,” she said.

That’s how special a day today was. Tomorrow? Krtek, get ready. It’s showtime.

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