Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Be Careful What You Ask For…

Sleep is over-rated.  At least, it would never be the same after March 12th, 2004.  I cannot even say that I got normal sleep that evening as Wendy and I were too excited.  The next day we were going to fly half-way around the world to adopt our oldest daughter, Madison.

The key factor in this equation is that the part of China we were travelling to was thirteen hours ahead of our time zone.  Wendy and I had travelled to Seattle a long time ago, and screwed up our sleep schedule that we laid down for a nap, and woke up sixteen hours later.  Our mistake was closing the drapes and making it completely dark.

We made the transition to Chinese time, immediately.  When we landed, we were informed that our schedule for actual adoption had been moved up.  We would fly to the capital city of Nanchang (Jiangxi Province) ten hours after we landed in Hong Kong.  Neither of us slept during the sixteen hour flight to China, and we were so keyed up, especially knowing in less than twelve hours, Madison would be in our arms.

Madison was nearly a year old when we adopted her, so she had already established a sleeping habit, and she definitely enjoyed her sleep.  With all the hustle and bustle that she had been thrown into, she still managed two and three hour naps, AND slept through the entire night.

We had received plenty of advice about our return home, and returning to our normal schedule and getting Madison adjusted.  We were fortunate.  There was no jetlag.  Madison continued her long siestas, and with her routine now returning to an inactive pace, to our wonderful surprise, Madison’s normal sleep length was anywhere from twelve to thirteen hours each night.  It did not matter where, a step, in the car, in the warmth of her own bed, she slept when she wanted it.

We cannot say the same with our younger daughter.  Emmalie has been with us over seven years, and she has NEVER slept through an entire night.  She did not like naps, and when she took them, it was never longer than a half hour.  Her nightly “naps” as we called them lasted three or four hours.  And she did not let us know through unhappy cries and screams.  Em would just flat out wake us up.  And if we would not stir, she would pull the old Tom & Jerry cartoon move, and actually lift up our eyelid to see if anyone was home.

Yes, on February 6th, 2006, we no longer had any opportunity to sleep throughout a night.  The chain of coherence began with Emmalie waking either myself, Wendy, or Madison.  Even the poor animals in the house were not safe from an arousing “WAKE UP DOGGIE!!!!”  No naps, waking up at six in the morning-ish, and if she had her way, she would stay up well past eleven in the evening.  Em wakes up first, then wakes up Madison.

Currently, on an average day, I do not mind the girls waking up early.  I get them ready for school while I get ready to go to work.  By the time that they wake up, I have enough time to spend a few moments with them.  I appreciate that.  But since days off from work, and other interests are rare, I make no secret.  I WANT TO SLEEP IN which translates to “I would like to sleep at least until seven in the morning.”  An impossible task.

Which makes what happened recently more than ironic, quite comedic in fact.  As an employee, I have a reputation for being on time, always.  No matter the weather, no matter of my physical well-being, in spite of efforts by Wendy, I have always been on time.

But a couple of weeks ago, Thursday morning to be exact, the girls woke up to a special treat, something to offer them hope.  All Winter long, we have not received any decent amount of white precipitation.  In fact, the girls would get the chance to peek outside, catch a few snowflakes on their tongues, then get off to bed hoping that even without a delay in the opening of school, they would get to partake in some chilly activities, at the least, making a snow angel.  Cruelly, the snow has not been enough and melted by the time they have gotten home from school.

But whereas any other morning that I have gone to work, they either wake up on their own or I need to jostle them.  On my days off from work, they can be relied on to rile me out of bed around six in the morning.  But on this particular Thursday, as if convinced the snow now covering the ground will not only prevent them from going to school, may also prevent me from getting to work.  Or so I thought.

I woke up at 7:12am.  My travel alarm clock set for 5:20am.  The first alarm on my cell phone set for 5:50am and the second set for 6:10am.  My clock has an annoying chirp to it, clearly loud enough to wake the entire house.  My cell phone alarm is the ring tone from Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train”.  There is no doubt that by the second alarm, and Wendy has fallen from the ceiling of the bedroom, I would be clearly on my way to beginning my day.

Not on this day.  The first alarm had been turned off, as was the first alarm of my cell phone.  I never heard the second alarm go off because I had rolled over onto it, my belly muffling the laughing and terrifying scream “All aboard, ah ha ha ha ha ha ha, aye aye aye aye , duh duh duh duh, duh duh… and the ringtone went on, repeatedly.

At 7:12am, my eyes opened, and I look over at another clock in the bedroom.  SON OF B$&%%$!!!tch!  I am late for work.  I am supposed to punch in at 7:10, 7:20 at the latest.  I quickly throw on some clothes and clear most of my steps to the downstairs.  Fortunately, I have hair care and teeth hygiene products at work.  I race into the kitchen to grab my car keys from the counter.

Over the kitchen counter, I can see the tops of the heads of my two darling daughters who are deeply entrenched in one of their early morning Disney channel shows.  But not to wrapped up in the entertainment to inform me… “Daddy, you’re late for work.”

Later that evening, as I explained to them the importance that if they should notice that I am not awake by the time they get up from bed and I need them to wake me.  Perhaps I should have been more clear, on days that I need to go into work.  In their defense, “but Daddy, you always tell us to let you sleep.”  Day of all days, I got what I asked for.

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