The not-so welcome wake-up call

Mornings start early in our house – our teen daughter is less than thrilled



My daughter is not a morning person. Unlucky for her, I am.

I’ve always preferred to rise before everyone else. When I was a kid, our family had a lakeside cottage in Barrington, and I used to love getting up early to go fishing. I can’t remember the last time we went on vacation and I didn’t watch the sun rise. Now I spend my days writing in an office in Manchester’s Millyard, where I arrive when it’s still dark. I don’t have to, I just do.

It’s a lifelong approach that I’ve passed along to my child. Even if she doesn’t want it. And as a 16-year-old who would rather hibernate than ambulate, she definitely does not want it.

This is how it normally goes: I swing open her bedroom door, turn on the light and the dog, my enthusiastic 14-pound accomplice who brings chaos and fur to the process, launches onto her bed and mauls her with kisses. From my perspective, it’s adorable. I’m sure from her point of view — going from a deep, peaceful slumber to having a hyperactive mutt tap dance on her head while the light of a million nuclear blasts causes her eyeballs to retreat to the back of her skull — it’s something slightly less than cute.

Occasionally, her mother and I will run away for a long weekend and she’ll stay at my in-laws’ house. There, she’s brought out of dreamland each morning by her grandmother’s soothing tones and a tall glass of orange juice on the bedside table.

Then when we come home, life returns to normal and she’s awakened by a tall glass of get up.

Even though she’s not overjoyed about our routine, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s necessary. She goes to a regional high school a couple towns over, so the school bus picks her up at 6 a.m. And on the weekends, I roust her before dawn so we can go get breakfast together. It’s a nice tradition, but it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s going to always be delighted with me about it. I honestly think the whole early to bed/early to rise thing is a good way to approach the day — even if it means I will never see the third period of a Bruins game.

Part of me feels bad about the jarring way I bring her round. On the other hand, I remember when she was a toddler and sleep was but an exquisite, unattainable dream – something yearned for with all of my being, yet never fully achieved. As much as she likes sleeping now, it wasn’t her specialty back then. I distinctly remember thinking, “if I could sleep for more than three hours, I could do anything.”

Only she didn’t, and I couldn’t. So as far as I’m concerned we’re even.   

Bill Burke is an alarm clock/writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and daughter — she’ll be the one yawning. He is also the managing editor of custom publications for McLean Communications.

More Dad on Board columns by Bill Burke

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