|Eden’s night owl|
My two kids come to life after dark. At 9pm, they eat cereal and ask me to read them a book. They research historical figures like Snowflake Bentley or Mae Capone. They search for countries and places on Google Earth like ancient Troy and the islands of Canada. They discuss the possibility of life after death, share their feelings about the divorce, or tell me stories about their day.
At 10pm I remember that much though I enjoy their company, I want to go to bed. I herd them to their rooms and breathe a sigh of contentment, just as if I don’t know what’s going to happen next. From one room, a call: “Ima, come. You forgot to tuck me in bed!” Rounded arms snake out of the blanket and capture my neck. “Ima, stay with me.” And so I sit there, hugging, hoping that the stronghold round my neck will weaken with time, but it doesn’t. I tell the little one that I am also tired. I also want to go to bed. I take two steps, trying to ignore the complaints behind me when “Ima, come!” sounds from the other room: “I’m afraid of dying,” or “can we fly somewhere this summer,” or “which football team is your favorite?”
|View from my office window|
At 10pm no football team is my favorite, I don’t want to go anywhere, and for all I care death can come and take me. All I want, at 10pm, is to go to sleep. I am not a night owl. My brain stops working at 7. I am that strange form of human being: the morning person who wakes up with the first rays of the sun and bounds out of bed, ready for all manner of fun. I am most alive at 6 in the morning. I love the fresh morning air, the pinkish tint of the sky, the dew that covers the plants, the chirping song of the birds.
What to do, when two such extremes live in the same house? Patience and shouting, the two solutions I have tried, do not work. They feed off each other and make no change in the children’s behavior. I shout, they cry, I vow to be more patient. I’m more patient, they stay up later, I shout, they cry, and I vow to be even more patient. And before long it’s eleven, I’m about to fall off my legs from exhaustion, and the likelihood of patience the next day decreases with every tick of the clock.
|Morning light hits our hill|
I sit with my two night owls who are interested, creative, and eager to play in the middle of the night, and my gratitude for this special time knows no bounds. I go to sleep late and wake up early, and my head feels ready to fall off my tired neck. They go to their dad, and I get rest for one night before I start missing them and wishing they already came back. And so it goes, again and again. My favorite little night owls.