Waking to a New State of Being

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In our house there’s no morning rush, but a manic marathon to get out the door on time.

Or just a little bit late.

Fortunately, Hadley’s an early riser. By the time I stumble downstairs, she’s eaten breakfast, packed the lunches and is finishing her homework, stitching a dress or darning doll clothes.

What a slacker.

Cayden and Brynn share the other end of the spectrum. They sleep late, rise reluctantly and function at a tortoise pace. They must be nagged, dragged and threatened to dress, eat and gather their backpacks, which often spew papers, books and art projects from the night before.

Then it’s time to wage World War III: wrestling Brynn into her vest for airway clearance. The treatment takes 30 minutes but we allow an hour for resistance, arguments and a meltdown (or as my Mom called my childhood tantrums, “the dying chicken act”). Factor in errant shoes and missing permission slips and it’s a dash to beat the school bell.

A few weeks ago I started sleeping in the guest bedroom, so my insomnia-fueled tossing wouldn’t sabotage Martin’s slumber, and his snoring wouldn’t trouble me. But recently I’ve slept well. Like a normal human being.

So last night I decamped and reclaimed my side of the bed. And this morning I awoke to two revelations: wow, I slept great! followed by, oh crap, it’s already 8.

Eight o’clock is late. Too late for WW III, and we’d have to scrap chess club, which is twice weekly before school.

“Hadley!” I bellowed while reaching for yesterday’s jeans. “I need your help up here!”

Brynn awoke relatively quickly and offered to roust her brother. She scaled Cayden’s top bunk and straddled his chest while screaming, “Wake Up!” and bouncing on him like a bronco buster.

This wasn’t as traumatic as the time that Hadley woke Cayden by dragging him from bed by his feet. (Cayden stayed asleep until the free-fall, when his head struck the rungs of the ladder and he landed in a heap on the floor.)

While not as painful, Brynn’s bronc-riding wasn’t well received.

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Note: falling from bed doesn’t guarantee consciousness.

I dished up a condensed version of the manic marathon and shoved them out the door at 8:55. Dirty dishes and food littered the kitchen. We left a trail of shoes, jackets, school papers and overdue library books in our wake.

As we sped to school, I lectured Cayden about his fidgeting and sluggish eating habits. And I lit into Brynn about — well — everything. “Hadley, we have got to get these kids up earlier. Much earlier. I’m sick of you all missing chess club.”

Tires screeching, we arrived at school. So late, there wasn’t a bus in sight. “Out, out out!” I yelled. “Hurry up!”

Brynn buzzed to have the door unlocked and chagrined, we filed in. I prepared to sign the late sheet, they awaited notes for class. I glanced at the wall where the clock should be. “Where’s the clock?” I asked.

“Chess club uses it,” the school secretary replied.

I shrugged and ducked out the door, relieved to avoid a finger-wagging reprimand about timeliness.

I thought I was home free, til I spotted Cayden’s lunch sitting shotgun in the car.

That kid, always forgetting something…

I buzzed the office once again. All three kids were perched on a bench.

“Cayden, here’s your lunch. Why are you all still here? Are you in trouble?”

“They’re in chess club, right?” the school secretary asked.

“Yea, when they get to school on time.” Did I miss something? Were they late for some special chess club meeting?

“Why are they sitting here?”

“Chess club doesn’t start until 8:25.”

“So,” I said, glancing for the missing clock. “Shouldn’t they be in class? What time is it?”

“It’s 8:05.”

Silence blanketed the room. Hadley and I exchanged stunned expressions. Cayden appeared indifferent. Brynn was oblivious — she can’t tell time.

“I told you to look at the kitchen clock,” Cayden finally said.

“I thought you were pointing out that it’s a few minutes slow. It’s 9:05… right?” The office staff erupted in laughter.

“It’s 8:05,” someone sputtered between laughs.

I felt my wrist, then my back pocket, but my watch and phone were at home.

“Well, it feels like 9:05,” I said, mentally reviewing the morning routine. “The clock beside my bed…. I guess it’s still an hour ahead.”

“So is mine,” Hadley admitted. “But I wake up with the sun.”

“It’s really 8:05? Well Cayden, I’m sorry that I made you bolt your eggs. And you can forget that lecture in the car.”

The staff was still laughing as I wandered out, mulling over my bonus hour. I glanced back at the kids. They were wedged together on the bench, wide-eyed and silent, undoubtedly pondering the situation.

This new, uncharted territory: being early.

 

The Path to a Broken Promise

 

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I know that I left readers hanging with a “Name these insects” post last month, but I must address a timely topic.

Approximately 8 1/2 months ago, I issued this decree: if Trump wins the presidency, we’ll make Ireland our new home.

That was back in February, when the kids and I were enjoying an Irish road trip, and the chance to stay sounded dreamy. (Sidenote: I did not consult Martin before making my grand announcement.) At the time, six Republican nominees vied for the top spot, though Trump’s outlandish comments and quotes dominated the news cycle. Despite his treasure trove of whacky soundbites, Trump was generally regarded as the big joke. Not a “real” candidate.

Which is why I made a bet I couldn’t lose. For certain, Trump’s political success had a short shelf life. And if by some miracle he bested his Republican brethren, so what?  What were the odds that he’d actually win?

It was impossible.

I didn’t worry a whit, even as the party’s nominees fizzled in the primaries and Trump stood atop the rubble. I didn’t fret during the summer or even yesterday morning, as the kids parsed the hypothetical move overseas — which barn cats would go or stay, which horses would make the move, and would we buy or rent a house. I remained confident about my sure-fire gamble.

Until last night.

As I watched the results roll in, I mulled over the fact that I’d bought the media hype and blindly assumed that Trump’s presidential success was impossible. In truth, it was implausible and improbable. But never impossible.

I decided that a salve for the kids would come in cash reparations. And I figured that $200 was the fair-market price for a broken promise of this magnitude. Sure, I’d be out $600, but it was worth it to buy back their trust.

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This morning I awoke the kids and prepared to grovel. But first, I turned on the TV and let them soak in the results. They were astonished and dismayed. In an agonized chorus they shouted, “Noooooo!” in response to the news.

Actually, they appeared to be in physical pain over Trump, and I hadn’t even mentioned my plans to reneg on my promise.

Hadley was dismayed to discover her hopes for a female president dashed, but she was easy to placate on the Irish front.

She accepted my apology. However, she declined a cash settlement.

“I don’t want money,” she said.

“You don’t? Well, what do you want?” I asked.

“I want a sleepover, with one of my friends.”

Manageable, certainly economical. “Done,” I said.

Brynn wasn’t nearly as conciliatory. In fact, she was outraged over both the outcome of the election, and my bait-and-switch tactics. “You promised! You CAN’T break your promise!” she yelled, slapping the coffee table for emphasis. “You said we are moving! So we are moving! We. Are. Moving. To. IRELAND!!”

“I know I said that, but we’re not. And I’m sorry. But what about money? I’ll give you two hundred dollars, instead. Two hundred dollars.”

“I don’t want money! You said we’d move to Ireland if Trump becomes president!”

“Brynn, we are not moving,” I said firmly. “It’s not happening, okay? What about a vacation? Another trip to Ireland this winter? How about that?” Cayden nodded with approval, while Brynn glowered.

“Fine,” she muttered with disgust. “We can go to Ireland on vacation,” she said, pausing before adding, “…as long as that vacation lasts for four years!!”

I sighed and tabled the topic so they could ready for school. But the issue remains unresolved.

And while my money is probably safe, my word is devalued, especially in Brynn’s eyes. It will take time to repair my tarnished reputation.

I think that I can bolster my back-pedaling, by pointing out that there’s really no escape from Trump. His footprints are everywhere — even on Irish soil.

He owns a golf club and hotel resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. There too, Trump plans to build a wall — a 20-meter wide barrier — to combat coastline erosion.

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Name These Insects

I refuse to close the blog this week with a dead farm animal.

So let’s block out that bloated sheep with some funky insects, and name these caterpillars.

I think the second is a no-brainer and the first might be a little tricky, but you be the judge.

Both are Maryland locals, photographed in August and September, respectively.

This first one wasn’t indoors; he was found on a bathmat draped over a porch railing.

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Here’s entry #2.

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Happy guessing.