A series in which we explore the life and times of a toddler…
“Daddy, we wake up now?”
I should preface this post with the disclaimer that I have never been someone who has needed a ton of sleep to operate. I’ve never, even in my teen and college years, been someone who could sleep until noon or later. Crawling out of bed when everyone else was sitting down to have lunch always felt like a waste, it felt dirty in a way, like I had somehow cheated on something and been caught. So even now as I climb into my fourth decade I am still up and at ’em no later than 7:00-7:30 if I’m lucky. Even on those nights, and there are several, when I fully know that a 6:00 a.m. wake up call awaits I often play the role of foolish masochist and stay up well past midnight. I have, for roughly 15+ years now averaged somewhere between 4-7 hours of sleep per night. It’s who I am I suppose. But even with this sort of unnatural, perpetual sleep pattern I am not prepared for the days when I am awoken before the sun rises to that tiny voice of my toddler asking if it’s time to get up yet.
I have four children. You’d think at this point, on toddler #4, I’d be well prepared for the veritable onslaught of sleepless nights that comes with having small children. You’d also think, if you weren’t versed in the language of parenthood that once they cross over from “baby” to “toddler” that they start to consistently sleep through the night. That’s what all the books say, right? You could not be more wrong on either of those counts. I am still not prepared for the inevitable earlier-than-humans-should-be-awake mornings and those mornings sometimes come at a pace that would kill a weaker man. O.k., maybe not kill him but make him want to cry for sure.
There are multiple reasons why a small child decides, “Enough of this sleep crap, let’s rock!” Some of which are completely out of their control and you really can’t get upset about. (i.e. They are sick. Stuffy noses are the worst because they seem so innocuous during the day, yet so deadly to your sleep cycles at night.) But there is nothing, I mean nothing, more annoying than your small child waking up at all hours…because of Daylight Savings Time. Listen, all humans have sleep patterns. You remember learning about REM sleep and all that whatnot in Biology class, right? Well I’m convinced (and maybe Science will back me up on this) that small children depend on these natural sleep rhythms more than us adults. So when something, like say, when the sun comes up an hour early for completely arbitrary reasons, that’s going to screw with their little, internal clocks. Then what you’ve got on your hands is a wake-up call at completely heinous hours.
I should also state at this point that I loathe Daylight Savings Time. There is simply no point to it in this day and age and if I was elected President of the United States the first law I would enact would be to abolish DST. It would also probably be the only time in my presidency I would say, “Let’s follow Arizona’s lead…” (Kidding, not kidding, Arizona. I still love you in all your craziness.) For my children, especially the little guy it doesn’t matter how late he goes to sleep…he’s still up sometime between 6:00-7:00 a.m. every single day like…wait for it…clockwork. Yet somehow if he skips a nap and goes to bed early…he wakes up earlier than 6:00.
Can someone please tell me how that works? You would think that if he’s on, say, a 10 hour sleep cycle that an 8 pm bedtime = a 6 am wake up. But the 9 pm bedtime still constitutes a 6 am wake up and the 7 pm bedtime somehow equals a wake up call somewhere in the 4-5 a.m. range? Confused yet? You should be. It’s like the worst effing Algebra problem I’ve ever encountered. I’m living on that proverbial train that left Denver at a certain time. I don’t know when or where it will meet the other train but they are bound to crash in a fiery inferno of crankiness and tears at some point. Now throw in our government mandated clock changing and it’s bound to set up a meltdown of nuclear proportions…from both me and my child some days.
There are certain hours of the day that human beings just shouldn’t be awake. 4:00 a.m. is a great example. After the last round of clock changing shenanigans my toddler woke up at 4:00 a.m. one morning? Why? Because, ‘F*ck you dad, I want oatmeal.’ (Or “oat-a-meal” as he pronounces it.) Sure he didn’t say it like that but he might as well have. I’m pretty sure in my sleep-deprived delirium that’s what I heard anyway. So what’s the solution, you ask? There isn’t one. Sorry. There is no big secret to unlocking the mysteries to why small children decide to get up at what I have dubbed, “What The F*ck O’ Clock” in the morning on random days. Sometimes they just do and as a parent you just do too.
My advice though for parents – don’t be like me. Get your beauty sleep when you can. That Netflix original series will still be there waiting for you tomorrow night, I promise. And for those of you reading this who are thinking about having children? Buy some sunscreen and move to Arizona.
Today’s metal song to go with this article is “Dead By Dawn” from death metal legends, Deicide, because I’m pretty convinced now that this song was written about and for parents who have gotten no sleep…