I have just hung up the phone from my fourth conference call of the day and am getting hungry for lunch, when Chase emerges from his third floor bedroom and stands in the doorway to my office with pillow marks still on his face and that glassy blank stare suggesting that his REM cycle ended only moments before.Good morning, Chase! Mrbrrrrfbrrrrrgrfrfrbr.
Without another word he turns and pads downstairs to the kitchen. Noah is still fast asleep in his room down the hall. I glance at the time. It’s 10:49 a.m. and I officially have become the mother of teenagers.
Almost overnight, my boys started sleeping late. In fact, it really only began when school let out in June. It might have happened sooner but the poor guys had to get up at the crack of dawn all year long to make it to their music rehearsals. It took their internal alarm clocks a few weeks to realize they were no longer beholden to the demands of the middle school band leader but then, in celebration, they shut down entirely. I have rarely seen either of them vertical before 10:00 a.m. over the last month.
I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Truthfully, I actually thought they would skip the whole “teenage late sleeper” thing. If I was being really honest, I might say that I HOPED they would skip it. Being a morning person myself, I never understood those who have the capacity to sleep past 9:00 a.m. If I make it to 8:00, I feel completely hedonistically slothy. So I was proud of my boys who would regularly wake to great the sun, even on the weekends. I might have even had a conversation with myself that went something like this:My children are better than other children. Why, you ask? They are better than other children because they do not sleep late. They are enterprising and full of energy. They are not stereotypical teenagers. Their ability to wake after 8 hours of sleep means they are surely destined for greatness. They are awesome.
Until they weren’t. They have officially joined the Sleeper Cell – and as their mother, so have I. Now the conversation is not with myself but with other mothers also in the cell:Oh, Johnny slept until 10:35 the other day? Ha! That’s nothing! Noah slept until 10:57 and THEN went back and took a twenty minute nap at 11:20. I thought he had mono, for goodness sakes!!! You know, I heard on NPR that kids this age NEED more sleep. It’s good for them. Who wants to sign my petition to start high school at 10:00 a.m.?
We nod our heads in commiseration with one another and look at the Early Risers, the club I was president of just one month ago, as freaks of nature.
Alas, isn’t this how it goes with every phase our kids choose to adopt or reject? If they
become lemmings fall in step with the norm, we thank the Universe they are precisely that: Normal. But if they buck the status quo, they are extraordinary. And who are we to silence that different drummer to whom they march? To summarize, its all good.
And while I’m slightly disappointed that my guys didn’t side step the Sleeper Cell phase (or the Long Hair Phase, the X-Box Phase or the Cain and Abel phase,) I’d trade that any day for the Cone of Silence phase, the Sow Their Wild Oats Phase, or the Fake ID phase all which I am still praying they will skip entirely. (Fellas – Having fully engaged in all of the latter in my younger years, I can say with authority, you don’t emerge from any of them a better person.)
The good news about phases is they are just that – and regardless of whether or not my boys choose to partake in them or not, they will eventually pass. My commitment to a firm position on whether sleeping late is good or evil is about as lasting as the time it will take my kids to start to rise early again, making me worse than a politician when it comes to which side of the argument I am on. I think the experts call this waffling. I prefer “unconditional love.”
Sleep well, my sweet boys.