Parenting Perspective: WAKE UP DADDY!

October 5, 2009

The answer to the first question is always the same: "2:20am."

The answer to the second question is always the same: "Yep, that is pretty early."

The answer to the third question is always the same: "Yes, really. 2:20am."

Despite all of the fascinating stories I deliver on the news every morning, nothing seems more captivating to our viewers than the hours I keep. Our first Action News broadcast every weekday morning is at 4:57am. To prepare for the show, I usually arrive at 3:15am. And to get to the station by that time, I wake up at 2:20am.

Yes, 2:20am.

And to get up that early, well, just count back about eight hours. That is usually when I'm going to sleep.

Bedtime Sunday through Thursday is at 6:30pm.

If I lived a life of isolation, this would not be a problem. Close the windows/shades, turn off the television and shut my eyes. Good night.

Factor in a wife and two young children, and worlds can collide every now and then. It is a real problem for non-nocturnal folks to keep quiet after 6:30pm. It is even more difficult for non-nocturnal folks who happen to be young, energetic, dessert-fueled school-age children. For they not know how loud they can be sometimes.

The noisy outbreaks involve the usual nonsense - he's antagonizing his little sister, she's bothering her big brother, temper tantrums, mood swings, rough-housing incidents that lead to broken items around the house (and yes, sometimes skin contusions and fractured bones, it happens!). The list goes on.

And boy does all that noise infuriate me! I mean, c'mon, daddy's trying to make a living getting up early like this! I'm doing it for them, don't they understand?


It didn't take long to figure out this simple fact: my children do not understand. Not at all. They're kids!

And if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

The problem mostly resolved itself when my son and daughter began putting ME to bed every night. We treat it as a little game.

They get to pick out a book to read (which they usually fight about – sibling rivalry is not only prevalent in our house, it is the norm), we take turns reading pages (my son has been reading for several years, my daughter is still getting the hang of it), and when it is done, we close up shop. Pretty simple stuff, right?

Somehow it reinforces the notion that daddy is tired, needs to go to bed, and will require some peace and quiet in the household.

By and large, this has kept post-6:30pm outbursts to a minimum. But there are rare evenings when one of my beloved children interrupt my slumber.

How great would it be to re-enact that Seinfeld episode, where Jerry gets heckled during his comedy routine, so he figures out where the heckler works, shows up at her office, and starts booing her!? How great would that be to turn the tables and wake them up as I'm leaving one morning, maybe at, oh, 2:55am?

Aside from it being rather cruel to deliberately wake up a young child on a school night as some form of retribution, it would also be counter-productive.

Instead, we try to be pro-active. Instead of getting woken up in the middle of the night, the perpetrator gets a phone call the next morning:

"Hello, my beloved daughter."
"Yes, daddy."
"I distinctly remember being woken up last night. Do you know anything about this?"
"Yes, daddy."
"Daddy is very tired today because of that. And that makes it difficult for daddy to focus at his job. What do you think of that?"
"Yes, daddy."

This is not exactly CIA-grade interrogation tactics, and as you see, the responses tend to be the same no matter what the question may be, but somehow the point is getting across.

Especially when you hear this unprovoked response.

"Sorry, daddy."

That's all I was looking for.

By the way, people tend to ask the same fourth question. And the answer is always this: "6:30pm, every night. Children permitting."

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