DemiGoddess the Younger was born slightly prematurely, so she had to spend the first week of her life in the intensive care unit. Her lungs hadn’t quite finished cooking yet, and the doctors put her on a respirator to help her breathe. After her first night of intubation, one of the nurses in the NICU told me they’d had to give my newborn daughter sedatives during the night because she wouldn’t stop trying to yank out her respirator tube.
“She’s a feisty one,” the nurse said with a knowing nod.
Thirteen years later, my girl has grown into a young woman who is capable of deep compassion and genuine kindness. But there have been many moments since that morning in the hospital when I’ve thought to myself, that child was born pissed off, and it’s been downhill ever since. When she is out of sorts, the only appropriate response is to duck and cover. Because Ms. Younger never, ever, suffers alone.
Mornings are a particularly touchy time, and since school started last fall, the alarm clock has been a recurring point of contention. The DemiGoddesses share a bedroom, and the only clock radio in it technically belongs to Demi the Elder. She sets the alarm at night and, when it goes off in the morning, Ms. Elder gets up, crosses the room, hits the snooze button and then goes back to bed for a few more minutes. This happens multiple times before she turns on the bedroom light and gets dressed.
Meanwhile, Demi the Younger, who leaves for school half an hour earlier than her sister, has slept right on through the whole thing, and when the lights come on, more often than not, she is already running late. And someone must pay.
Day after day Ms. Younger would berate her older sister for not waking her up sooner, as she stomped around, slamming doors, hissing and spraying venom from her eyeballs. And if she happened to have stayed up past her bedtime the night before? Heaven help us all.
I know from experience that trying to engage my child in any sort of debate at this point will only escalate the foulness, but yesterday she was at it again, and I interrupted her rant to point out, in a slightly less than entirely patient tone of voice, that an important part of learning to behave like an adult person includes taking responsibility for getting one’s own arse out of bed in the mornings.
Clearly, something was going to have to change. So last night I bought her her own clock radio. One with big green numbers on the display, so she’ll be able to read it without her glasses. She gratefully kissed me when she saw it, and merrily took it to her room to set it up.
Both the radio and the beeper alarms went off on schedule this morning, but instead of getting up immediately, DemiGoddess the Younger played her own round of snooze tag. By the time she left her bed, she was even more late than usual. This time, though, she had no one to blame but herself, and the quiet at the breakfast table was almost eerie. Which is good. Because I was about ready to look into getting her some more of those sedatives.