"Daddy! Wake up!" It sounds like the littlest one, the toddler. He's the only one that calls me Daddy. The other two call me "Hey" or "You". I should spank more I think. But "Daddy," said in that high pitched whine, we are clearly in little boy country
"No. Go Away." Simple and straight to the point.
"What time is it." He's a toddler, he can't tell time. Of course, I know this and that's why I asked him. It's like asking a computer what the value of Pi is. There is no answer. He'll spin his wheels forever.
"Um," He says and then takes off, little feet slamming the carpet. So loud, why do they have to be so loud in the morning?
It's summer. Summer is for sleeping in and taking long naps. It's one of the really great perks of being an at-home-dad. I'm on duty 24/7, 365. I'm never off. I work until every little eyelid actually closes and doesn't open again. I'm on at 3 am when one has a bad dream, doesn't feel well, or accidentally thought it was time to get up. But in summer at least, we are all supposed to be able to sleep in.
I hear the feet come back in. There are some other feet with it this time too. Bigger, they make a larger sound. I can feel the floor shake a bit as they come closer to the bed. Seriously, are we stepping on bugs as we walk? Maybe we are just trying to test out the floor joists, make sure they are stable? There is no reason other than those that I can think of that would account for why there is an earthquake walking into my room.
"Dad." It's the oldest one. She has been summoned by the great and terrible toddler, destroyer of sleep.
"What." I hope I sound surly. I put a tinge of annoyance in my voice, made it a little louder than it's supposed to be. I'm hoping that they can get the idea without me saying another thing. They do not.
"It's 7:15. Time to get up."
"No. Go away."
"If I get up we are all going to do chores. We are going to clean the garage and then do yard work. When that's done, we are going to re-shingle the roof, give the dog a bath, and talk about the importance of saving your money in a volatile stock market."
My daughter leaves without saying anything. I can feel her sigh though, that came through loud and clear.
Crap. I forgot about the toddler. He's still here.
"Hungry!" His little hands start smacking my face. He's going for the eyelids. I squeeze them tighter. "Hungry!" He's no longer speaking in sentences but as a native from a 1600's Carribean island greeting weary explorers.
"Go tell Bubba to get you a bowl of cereal." I hear the little feet go away again, my eyes still closed, my comforter undisturbed.
What kills me is that during the school year I have to drag everyone out of bed. They are slow moving, blankets held on to tightly like they are some sort of life line to the world of sleep. They move at a speed that even a sloth would be disappointed in. Breakfast is eaten even slower, milk dripping on the table, cereal over poured into bowls. That's 9 months of the year. And then summer comes and all of a sudden they turn into a bunch of god damn go-getters. Can't waste a day, not a summer day! There are things to do, youtube videos to watch, parts of the house to mess-up. The day isn't truly seized until I have had to clean the kitchen 4 times before 5 pm.
More footsteps enter my room. Softer, a bit quieter. At least this one is showing some god damn respect, some decorum for the tired father that just wants ten more minutes.
"Dad." my older son says. Nine but seems to at least have gotten the point that I will be more receptive to voices that are not demanding.
"We are out of milk."
"Make some toast. You guys can make toast without burning the house down."
"Oh, yeah. Peanut butter toast!" He runs away, hitting the doorjamb of my bedroom on the way out. I feel the house shake again. Shit, I'm going to really have to check the shingles now.
If I try really hard and believe in myself, I bet I can go back to sleep completely in five minutes. Maybe I can make to 8 this morning, 9 if they decide to play video games. They can play all morning as long as no one wakes me up. It's win/win, a mutual beneficial situation. More of a symbiotic relationship rather than the parasitic one. Man, that's a dark analogy, isn't it. But every parent knows that it is an apt one. I should call my mom soon, see if she is up and would want to babysit tomorrow from 7 am to 9.
I hear the toddler scream, not one in pain but the one he uses when he's pissed. There are words in that scream if you pay close enough attention. It's a combination of "no," "stop" and the unformed "fuck you older siblings!" But mostly, it's just screaming.
"No! You sit down and stop screaming." It's my daughter, her voice as loud as her stomping feet.
"Bacon!" It's my other boy, weighing in for some reason. And then "Sissy!" He's just yelling at both of them. I like my middle child, my son. He's an equal opportunity blamer.
Then the crash, the bang, the thing breaking somewhere downstairs. It could be a bowl, it could be a tray of ice cubes being thrown on the floor. But more than anything it sounds like the garage needs to be cleaned up and the yard mowed.
Now my eyes snap open, the dim sunlight from my window making my vision a bit blurry. I rub my eyes as I walk, I curse to myself as a I rub, I yawn as I curse. School is two weeks away.
But so are afternoon naps. Afternoon naps on a Tuesday is way better than sleeping in on a Monday.