From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Morning Glory

When I was young, my father woke us up some mornings. He would come into our rooms singing, “Good morning to you, good morning to you, we’re all in our places, with bright shining faces, oh, what a good way to start a new day!” Other days my mother would wake us up singing, “Hey, what do you know, it’s morning already, here comes the sun. . . .” What nice parents I had! Well, until I turned fifteen, anyway. I don’t know what happened to them then. They got better again later, about the time I turned twenty, I think. Guess they just had a bad spell for a few years.

Having been awakened in such a pleasant way every day of my formative years, you can be pretty certain that I make sure my children start their days off in a similar way. I would like for you to think so; in fact, I encourage it. Imagine me, up, scrubbed, dressed in an I Love Lucy–type morning outfit, carrying a tray to each of my children, with something hot and sweet to drink and a bud vase with a daffodil in it bobbing its head festively. Go on thinking that. Just don’t bet any large amounts of money on it. Mornings around here are not unpleasant, depending on your tolerance for noise and hullabaloo, but they don’t start off with singing.

Here’s how it is on a day I don’t work—because when I do work, I leave early and I have no idea how they get bathed and dressed and fed without me. Both my husband and I are early risers. Typically, I will have been up long enough in the morning to have become pretty deeply involved in some project before it is time to wake up the kids. Then I will suddenly realize that it is ten minutes until seven and we are late.

I screech. Why? Because I usually don’t want to quit what I am doing. So instead of “Good morning to you,” I shriek, “Wake up! Feet on the floor! You’re late!” I think this is a very effective way to wake up the children. Not only does it rouse them, but also it scares the pudding out of them and their little hearts pitty-pat from 60 beats a minute straight to a respectable 160 beats a minute. This is bound to be good for their cardiovascular health. Plus they get a massive dose of good old vitamin A—as in adrenaline—right off the bat. This has the happy side effect of completely clearing their heads of any residual sleepiness. They are up, they are pumped, and they are ready for battle.

Forget orange juice, the double shot of fight or flight juice my kids get is a great way for them to start the day. Not only are they wide-awake and raring to go, but also they are in the right mind-set for the great bathroom battle. We have an old house with nice big bedrooms and lots of sunshine and windows and a great big yard. And one shower. We have tried to compensate for this with an enormous water heater, but still you don’t want to be the last guy in line. Things are a little better now that the girls are gone most of the time. They took the art of makeup application to new heights, often taking upwards of thirty minutes to perfect the all-natural look they preferred. With them gone, much more time is available for the boys to do whatever it is they do in there that takes so long. I know for a fact that they are not spending all that time on their teeth.

Every day as they start to leave the house, I kiss them and then I ask, “Did you brush your teeth?” Every single day they get the same shocked look on their faces. “Teeth? Do I have teeth? Am I supposed to—what was that word you used?—brrrruuuussshhh them? Oh my! Who’d’ve thunk?” And then off they pound, up the stairs (which surely cannot survive too many more years of such violent use), where they shove and elbow and insult each other, splash water and gargle noisily and, I am pretty sure, wet those brushes, give each other a conspiratorial wink, and pound back down and out the door.

Have a nice day!

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

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