Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Daydream Believer

I hate mornings.

I don't hate them for my sake. It may shock those of you who knew me well in college to know that, despite my youthful slothiness, I have become a morning person. Not by choice, mind you, but by necessity. Our school start time has moved up earlier than it used to be, and I have learned that the only way I can stay on top of laundry is to start a load every day before work, so to accomodate all the things I need to do to get to work by a little after 7 I wake up at the unnatural hour of 5am. I'm not crazy about that, but I set the alarm and I only hit snooze once and I deal with it. Some mornings, when I am able to empty the dishwasher and get to the bottom of the laundry pile all before breakfast, I actually (gulp) enjoy being up that early. It makes me feel productive.

Ainsley, however, is not a morning person and is causing me to have small butt-crack-of-dawn nervous breakdowns on a regular basis.

The good thing about her catching the bus to get to her school from my school is that she gets to come to work with me. The bad thing is that she has to come to work with me.

Her school starts early, too, but if she wasn't a bus rider and if I wasn't tied down starting at 7:15 every day she could get a little more sleep each morning. I had always heard that these children creatures are supposed to love to get up early, that they get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every day way before we're ready for them, etc., etc. Ainsley sometimes wakes us up on weekends as soon as the cock crows, but mostly she's a late riser who lies in bed awake awhile before mustering the energy to face the day. To wake her up when it hasn't been her idea to do so...that's just about as easy (and safe) as arousing a hibernating bear in the middle of a January snow storm.

Her alarm goes off. And beeps. And beeps. While she pulls covers over her head, grabs for the pillow when I wrestle the covers away, moans, groans, pouts, says she doesn't want to go to school, and finally inches out of bed a millimeter at a time to emerge, ratty hair in eyes, head down, angry, looking very much like the creepy little girl in The Ring.

Side note: Whenever Ains creeps out of bed, her hair hangs straight down in front of her face and she walks with her head down and her feet shuffling. This does not sound terrifying in the comforting light of day. But one night, summer before last, after I had put her to bed in her old room with the door cracked a little to let the AC circulate, I walked out of our bedroom and down the hall to the kitchen and saw her standing silently just behind the small opening in the door, the pale lamp light coming from our room illuminating just a small form with its head down and a nest of hair sticking up. She had gotten woken up by something and was going to ask for a drink. We did eventually get my heart to start back up. But I will blame any future arrhythmias on the spooky ghost-child that showed itself to me that night.

If only getting her up were the whole battle. I swear she dozes back off sometimes while she's on the toilet. She then turtles her way through her cereal, sometimes stopping mid-chew and staring into space. In the middle of washing her hands she begins doing science experiments in the flowing water. Ainsley is a very dreamy little kid who, even at her most alert, can get lost in the details. At 6:30 in the morning, she gets lost in everything.

This morning started off great. After learning what she was having for lunch, she asked me to pack her something. I did, and we were still right on track. I handed her her lunch box, and her morning snack, and asked her to put them in her backpack and come back to the kitchen after to put away her juice. She ran off, and I dumped her cereal bowl, rinsed it out, ran the garbage disposal, put the bowl and spoon into the dishwasher, and was starting to wipe off the table when it occurred to me that it should NOT be taking that long to unzip a backpack and put a lunch box in it.

I found Ainsley sitting cross-legged in the floor, backpack across knees, not even unzipped, and lunch and snack still at her side. She was gazing intently into the little hand mirror clipped onto the zipper of her pack. Argh.

Somehow or other we still manage more days than not to get to my school on time. This is because, around 6:35, I become a drill sergeant. When I snapped into R. Lee Ermey mode this morning in an effort to put our little derailed train back on the tracks, I got a "You're mean" muttered at me through a little mouth full of toothpaste. That's the first one of those I've heard. I didn't know whether to be hurt or be proud that I've joined the ranks of many, many other "mean" mothers.

By the time we'd driven the 12 minutes it takes to get from my garage to the school parking lot, she was a different kid. There was a smile on the once grouchy face and she skipped down to the library. I got a little bit of a cold shoulder after I told her she needed to stay more focused at school than she had been at home this morning, but I still got a hearty hug before it was bus time. The morning monster thankfully only rears its head until the blood starts pumping.

But it's enough to make me a non-morning person again.

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