Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What We Do Before the Cock Crows

Aside from his first months of life when Jonah seemed sustained not by mother's milk, but crying beyond the realms of colic, he has been a good and peaceful sleeper. At least until 6am, when his inner clock gives him a good 'thwack' from the inside, jolting him out of sleepy reverie and physically out of bed. He gets this jolt based entirely on the time and not the number of hours he has slept. Put him to bed at 7:30 with a story and a hug and he is up at six. Put him to bed at 10:30 with a "get your hiney into bed or I'll get it there for you," and he is up at six.

This schedule works for all of us because Matt gets up early and the two of them commune in the wee hours while we of the fairer sex rest on, attending to our beauty. Father and son might commune like this: Matt gets into the shower while Jonah lays on the hard tile of the bathroom floor soaking up the heat from the vent. Father and son might instead commune like this: Matt pours a bowl of cereal for each of them and they sit at the table together considering the confections they will eat when Dad finishes his 'book' and we have a mighty junk-food-party. And yet another means of communion might play out as such: Matt goes back and forth from bathroom to closet dressing and grooming, gelling hair, brushing teeth, and tying shoes while Jonah follows almost a full step behind chattering ceaselessly about Willie Scott, Short Round and Indiana Jones, making Matt wish we had 5000 more square feet in our home so as to avoid tripping over his son every time he turns around.

I give this quality time to my boys each morning as a gift of the truest motherly love. I stay in my warm bed and let them enjoy the half-light without my influence so that Jonah will have these memories with his Dad forever. It is a gift I am possibly a little too happy to give. So, on mornings when Matt is not around to absorb the impact of Jonah's wakefulness I tend to struggle just a little bit. Mother and son might commune like this: Jonah comes to the side of my bed where I am effectively 'dead to the world.' "Mom," he says with a voice that has the raspiness of a shameful effort at whispering and the volume of a freight train. "Can I have some cereal?" Why would he ask this of me? Do we not grant him the right of eating cereal every day of his life? "Yes, you can get your own cereal. And then go read a book and let me sleep, Jo."
Our communion comes in other ways, at more decent hours throughout the day. My best self emerges with the sun.

While in Las Vegas for two weeks I began to tire of Jonah's sweet company in the dark of early morning. I went to bed too late and I wanted him to go away and let my body eek its selfish sleep in a heavily curtained room. One night (late, I'm sure) as my Mom and I sat at the table talking about going to bed, she mentioned how it might be nice if Jonah would get up in the morning and start his lessons on his own. This was a stroke of maternal genius that I had not gleaned from my own paltry experience as a mothering neophyte.

"That's it! I'll make a treasure hunt for him to follow in the morning when he gets up." This I did with all of the gusto that a person has left at 1:00 in the morning after a day of keeping three children alive and one adult sane. I used 3x5 cards strategically placed throughout the house to get the most mileage out of the activity. It started with a large sign on my bedroom door that said "DO NOT ENTER" and then some clue that led him far away from my bedside, out of ear shot. I gave Jonah several activities with which to amuse himself including his writing/copywork, and reading three or four chapters of his Magic Tree House book. At the end of all this I had Charlotte's Web queued up in the DVD player so he could push 'power' and 'play', giving me an extra two hours of sleep, giving him a more present and capable mother.

Jonah bought this whole thing like it was a trip to Legoland. He woke up, he came to my room with his freight-train-whisper on the tip of his tongue and found the clue on my door. He followed each direction, reading and writing on his own without any one there to nag him like his teacher might have considered absolutely necessary before then. He moved on to the getting-his -own-breakfast part, and finally to watching Charlotte's Web before he decided he had to wake someone up.

Jonah knocked on my bedroom door with no thought to waking the baby that slept in the room with me. I jumped out of bed lamenting the unsuccessful attempt at the morning treasure hunt. It felt far too early for him to have taken the bait. He stood before me in tears.
"What's wrong?" I asked. "Did you do the treasure hunt?"
"Yes," he sniffled. "I did all of it. But I'm too lonely. No one is waking up."
I pushed the button on the clock to illuminate the hour.

5:00 AM!

Jonah had eaten, copied a full page of writing , read four chapters , and watched an entire movie, and it was 5:00 in the morning. Maybe he and Matt have been communing earlier than I thought.


Menner said...

What time does that boy get up? Amazing.

Susan said...

Oh, this is too GOOD!!! I should have gotten Jonah a watch for Christmas. FYI, after Christmas he will be able to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons early in the morning.

Aubrey said...

That is CRAZY TOWN!! He needs a clock by his bed and unless it is to pee he can not get up out of it until an hour you suggest. This will be a great time exercise. He can read, day dream, fall back asleep, write opera arias until dawn. WHATEVER, until you are done sleeping. :) Good luck, he is soooo cute, love the train whisper!