Maybe We Should Just Buy A Rooster…

Jim Fay, co-author of Parenting With Love and Logic (one of my favorite parenting books) often says “You can’t make a kid go to sleep, but you can wake him up, so stop trying to control what you can’t and concentrate on what you can.” In other words, let kids stay up as long as they want, but feel free to bang pots and pans and play musical instruments outside their door early in the morning.  His experience has been that kids will naturally regulate themselves on their bedtime and eventually go to sleep at a decent time once they see how tired they are from “staying up”.  Something tells me this advice was meant for younger kids and not teens.  At least, not my teen. 

We stopped arguing about bedtime with Allison once she hit the Jr. High years, and she’s stayed up ’til 11, 12 and even later every single night since, even when she has no homework and even when she’s said, “I was so tired today.  I’m going to bed early tonight!”  It’s not that she’s spending all those late hours on Facebook or texting, although sometimes that’s part of it– but when homework is done and the hour is late, sometimes I catch her reading magazines, or experimenting with a new hairstyle, or just simply staring in the mirror.  Anything but going to bed.

People have told me, and I’ve read, that a teen’s internal clock is different from the rest of us.  They prefer going to bed late, and staying asleep until very late in the morning.  But unfortunately, our high school doesn’t start at noon. It starts at nine.  So mornings are usually pretty, uh, interesting at our house.  Andy and I always have to wonder each day if she’s going to make it to school on time or not. She always has to rush.  Papers that need to be signed by us are frantically shoved in our faces at the last minute. Necessary shoes and pieces of clothing can’t be found.  She used to blame us if she was late (“You didn’t wake me up on time!!! You must have put my shoes somewhere!!!”) but we’ve made it clear that it’s not our responsibility to find her clothes or make sure she gets up, though we each pop our heads into her room and speak to her at least once every morning. If she chooses to stay up so late, she has to deal with the consequences on her own. I’ve learned to make myself scarce– I throw a waffle in the toaster for her and then head out to my minivan, where I enjoy reading the newspaper and drinking my coffee, in sweet silence. Sometimes I get to read a lot, sometimes barely a paragraph before she and her gigantic school bag tumble in.

Over the years, we’ve tried to help by getting her alarm clocks.  And I must say, we’ve had a “unique” assortment. The first one was called “Talk Time”, with a recordable feature that lets you record a phrase so that when the alarm goes off, you hear the phrase, again and again. Sometimes she and her sister would record silly stuff, sometimes I would sneak in during the day and record something corny like, “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!” While it was fun, the Talk Time’s batteries would always wear out fast (it included a radio that the girls left “on” all the time), so it didn’t turn out to be a very reliable wake-up device. 

The next alarm clock came from the Discovery Channel Store.  It was silver and round and modern-looking, and it was faceless–on first glance, it didn’t look like a clock at all.  It had two waving “wands” on top, almost like antennae, and as the wands moved back and forth, they’d beam the time so that it seemed to hang in the air between them, just above the clock. In addition to the time, Allison could program it to beam about 10 different phrases in a row, whatever she wanted to type, and she really liked it.  Except that it showed the hours and minutes in MILITARY TIME. Huh? There was no other option? Nope.  What numbskull would make a cool clock for kids in MILITARY TIME? (And what numbskull would buy it? Hey, nowhere on the box did it say MILITARY TIME!) I would have taken it back except I bought it in WASHINGTON, D.C. and there was no longer a Discovery Channel Store in Dallas. Allison said she could get used to the Military Time.  She didn’t.  It broke anyway.

Our last alarm clock was pretty simple.  A four-inch cube, plugged into the wall, digital time on front, no radio, just a clock and an alarm. And, the cube changed colors every few minutes.  She liked it at first, then quit using it and told us the alarm feature wasn’t working right.  She says she’d rather use the alarm on her cell phone.  Which is fine with us, except that doesn’t seem to work that great, either. 

We once tried playing fast classical music in the house to see if that would help (see the post
My Teenager Was A Science Fair Experiment) but it didn’t help too much, and eventually annoyed everyone… Wish they made something with an arm that comes out and bops the kid on the head with a pillow…  I did see an alarm clock the other day that has some kind of mini helicopter thing that shoots out of the top when the alarm goes off– it hits the floor and buzzes and bumbles around like crazy until you get up and catch it. I showed her the ad and asked her what she thought.  She said it didn’t look very stylish (yeah, I guess you’ve got to have something good lookin’ among all those dirty clothes, socks, underwear and empty makeup bottles strewn everywhere…and besides, the helicopter piece would get lost in that quagmire and she’d never find it!).

And so, sometimes she gets her act together and sometimes she doesn’t.  Yesterday she was still in her pajamas when we said good-bye and left for church (in spite of the fact that she was woken up two hours in advance), so she “missed her ride” (or I should say, two rides– Andy leaves earlier than I do) and after finally getting ready, she called and begged and pleaded that someone come back to get her.  Sorry, we said, “You made the choice not to ride with us.  Call a friend to get a ride.” Instead, she decided to ride her bike the 4.32 miles to church, wearing her “nice clothes”, including UGG boots and a cardigan sweater.  Will wonders never cease.  And I think she kinda enjoyed it.  
“That sweater flew out behind me like a cape,” she said, smiling.  
Faster than a speeding bullet, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s SUPER STUBBORN PROCRASTINATOR TEEN!! ###


3 thoughts on “Maybe We Should Just Buy A Rooster…”

  1. I really enjoyed your lastest blog. I always love all of them, by the way! What dream high school does Allison go to that starts at 9:00!!! Do you know how lucky she is?! All 3 of mine started H.S. at 7:30. It was especially hard on me, being a high school teacher, since I was hardly awake myself teaching a room full of sleepy teenagers.

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