Rushville Republican

September 3, 2013

Alarming ways to wake up

By Don Stuart Rushville Republican
Rushville Republican

---- — My No. 5 son has just crossed one of life’s bigger thresholds. He is now being awakened from his nightly slumbers by an alarm clock, instead of by me, or my wife, or the sound of the school bus engine as it pulls away from his stop.

I expected No. 5 to start rousing himself on his own this school year. He’s a 7th grader, after all; he gets twitchy when his parents are in the same zip code as him, much less wandering about his own personal bedroom/sanctum sanctorum.

Although I wonder if occasionally he’ll question his decision to choose an automated wake-up system over the tender ministrations of his parents. Well, I’m tender anyway. I tiptoe quietly into the room (Things That Makes You Go “Hmmmmm” Alert: can one tiptoe loudly?), sit gingerly on the edge of the bed, and gently pat the child’s back, or softly tousle his hair.

My wife, on the other hand, sort of barrels into the room, pulling up the blinds and loudly chirping “Good MORN-ing sleepyhead!” My mother used to do something quite similar; she’d snap up the window shades – which snapped up right noisily – while singing a song that went, “It’s time to get UP! Get UP! Get UP!”

I love you mom, but I gotta tell ya, I never cared much for that.

I wonder if on some level, these startling and jarring techniques offer a woman a way to exact a smidgen of revenge for all those nights she was awakened by a baby’s squalling.

Then again, my dad didn’t wake me any more gently. His thing was to stick a finger in an exposed ear. Sometimes, I think he licked the finger first. I guess when I squalled at night as a babe, he must’ve woken up too.

I should mention that no matter which wake-up technique we used with my boys, my wife and I would both get the same reaction. They’d emit a groan or moan or scream – whichever was working the loudest that morning – and then holler, at the top of their lungs, “NOOOO!!! Go away!!! Go a-WAY!!!” Then they would disappear deep into the nether regions of their sheets and blankets. So in their cases, it’s not like my approach put them in any better mood than my wife’s.

I can’t remember first time I woke up to an alarm clock. I’m pretty sure I relied on mom and dad throughout my high school years.

At Christmas during my senior year in high school, I got an excellent Sears-brand radio alarm clock from my parents. You may find this hard to believe, mom, but I still have it! I guess you could say that over the years, it’s lost some of its, um, aesthetic value; it’s missing the panel that had the radio frequencies and hash marks on it, knobs are bent or missing, and the clock stopped clocking about 20 years ago. But the radio still works!

For years, when I lived in places where I could get the signal from WGN radio in Chicago, I’d put this sturdy little receiver in the basement and listen to Chicago Cubs games on it. It was my “lucky” Cubs radio. Which, considering the Cubs have still won zero championships in my lifetime, suggests that the guys at the factory didn’t install much luck in it.

Have you ever noticed that your whole mood for the day can be influenced by your alarm? For example, sometimes you’re awakened by a song that you just can’t get out of your head for the rest of the day. This is all well and good when it’s a song that totally rocks, like, say, the theme to “Sesame Street,” which in my personal opinion, should be on the Billboard Top Ten for all eternity.

No. 3 and No. 4 sons guarantees themselves this upbeat experience every day by waking up to tunes they’ve stored on his iNoise thingies. Strange, neither one has ever downloaded a song that he loathes.

But No. 5 son is old-school. He’s taking his chances, and waking up to whatever song is on the radio. He came downstairs crabbier than usual the other day, blaming it on the music. He said the tune was okay, but he couldn’t stand the lyrics: “Good MORN-ing sleepyheads!/Get UP! Get UP!”