Last night she asked, can you make sure I'm sitting up when you get me up tomorrow? I smiled. My youngest sets an alarm for 6:30 but has been in the high school musical this weekend and hell week before that. She has been going flat out for three weeks and is tired. On an easy day, she gets herself up, dresses, comes down, packs lunch, makes breakfast, and sits on the love seat under a blanket to eat. After the musical, she was pretty sure it wouldn't be so easy.
I said, I'll make sure.
I'm up before five to make coffee and then write in my basement nook. I go to the couch around six to read and write an email note for my wife to read over her breakfast. When I hear my girl's 6:30 alarm, I creep upstairs to make sure she's up, then pack lunch and get ready to go.
This morning, her phone's alarm was flashing silently. I sat on her bed and hugged her leg with my hands. Honey, it's time. I said it softly knowing she didn't want to get up. I didn't want her to get up either. She looked so peaceful, so cherubic. I wanted to stay and pass the day with her.
"I'm going to stay in bed today," she said. I smiled. "I'll go to school some other day." Hmm, I said. "I'm so tired," she said, drawing out "so" like a yawn. Yeah, I know, I said, almost whispering and I could feel the words coming from my smile. I hugged her leg some more and waited. She pulled the covers up high. I said, "a girl last night told me to make sure she was sitting up." She sat up and rubbed her eyes. I said, I'll see you downstairs, my love.
There's not much better in than seeing my girl each morning. I wake her gently because that's what she prefers. Who doesn't? I remember being jerked awake by my alarm clock's terrible click and buzzer or, when I overslept, my mother's shouting, singing, and clapping. It made me angry. I want the opposite for my girl.
There's a selfish aspect as well.
I want her to remember me waking her. Not the specifics of today, but that feeling of me talking quietly, hugging her leg. I want her to feel loved without thinking about it and as sure of that love as she is of the sun in the sky. No question, no doubt about it. This small ritual of checking if she's awake and waking her gently is me trying to insure all that.
I want it for her, but I want it just as much for me. Having her feel loved helps her love me and I'm greedy for more of that.
Some say I'm lucky she gets up so well and goes to school. Most of the kids I teach come to school only under threat. My girl, unless she's feverish or it's a Jewish holiday, goes to school, mostly willingly because my wife and I have been waking them this way their whole lives. We have engineered this. We seem to have realized early enough that we have our children only for so long. Childhood really is over too quickly.
When she goes out on her own, I hope she will wake some mornings remembering my soft knock at her door and the shadow of me sitting on her bed. She might almost feel my hand hug her leg and hear me say, "it's morning, honey. I'll see her downstairs." If she does, there's every chance she will begin her day feeling loved and radiating it out into her world. That's about all this world needs is more of her kind of love.