March 8, 2017
Part 1 – Mom
It was Saturday morning, and my four year old showed up next to my bed, poking me gently but insistently in the back. I flopped over to respond to him, first suppressing that momentary dread that always accompanies the sudden appearance of a small pale face several inches away from mine in the darkness.
After determining that it was in fact my son and not some child ghost come to murder me, I asked him what he needed.
“I think it’s a little bit morning,” he whispered loudly, holding up his pointer finger and thumb like he was measuring an inch-long bit of space.
I glanced at the clock. 5:45. I glanced back at him. He was nodding sagely, fingers still poised in front of his face.
I told him that yes, it was a little bit morning, but it was also more than a little bit not morning, and that really, morning doesn’t start at an exact time, so relative comparisons of morning-ness are not particularly to the point when it is early and still pitch dark on a Saturday.
He listened, he nodded, he got the “Mom’s sending me back to bed” gist. He went back to his room, but not back to sleep.
In his defense, the house was full of children because we’d had some friends of the boys’ over to spend the night, and one of those many children had just been up to use the restroom next to his room, the noise of which had probably stirred him from his slumber. Also, I’m sure he was eager to get the fun of the day going because, as children well know, the morning after a sleepover almost always ends earlier than desired by the sudden arrival of parents.
In any case, after he left I looked around at the deep and quiet and sleepy darkness of early morning, and wondered how that child could have looked around at the same deep and quiet and sleepy darkness and decided it was a good idea to get up.
Kids, I thought for the zillionth time, are crazy.
Part 2 – Boy
He awakes in utter darkness to the distinct sound of a door clicking shut, followed some moments later by a toilet flushing. Aha, he thinks, it is morning. One might suppose, due to the darkness, that it is night, but someone has used the bathroom and there can be no other explanation. It is morning!
But wait, he thinks, sometimes the urge to use the bathroom is irresistible, even at night, as I myself know. Maybe another occupant of this house found himself in such a situation and chose to use the restroom instead of making a mess of his bed.
He ponders this thought, weighing the likelihood of it. He’s uncertain.
At the very least, I should go look out the window. Perhaps it has become morning everywhere else in the house, and my room is slow catching up.
So out he walks, blankie in hand, past the quietly sleeping forms of his brothers and friends, observing that, if it is morning, the rest of the house is slow catching up too. He pads to the large windows in our living room that are never covered, even at night, and peers intently outside. Looking hard enough, he believes (correctly) that he can just make out a faint bit of grey over the roofs of the neighboring buildings.
Oh yes, he thinks, I recall how adults have discussed the eastward placement of these very windows, and how other adults have discussed the tendency of the sun to rise in the east. That grey over there, being a shade or two lighter than the darkness everywhere else, must in fact be heralding the imminent rising of the sun, ergo morning is coming soon.
He thinks of the friends sleeping in our house. He thinks of Nerf gun battles yet to be had. He thinks of LEGOs and fire trucks and breakfast and basketball and cartoons. He stares at the faint bit of grey in the sky. He thinks of me, so reasonable and kind.
She probably wants me to wake her up, he thinks.
I’ll tell her it’s morning, he thinks, and then we can start the fun.
But wait, he thinks, it is not, in all honesty, truly morning yet.
He turns this thought around in his head. He stares at the grey bit of sky, and the grey bit of sky stares back at him. “I’m like morning,” the grey bit of sky seems to say. “I’m like a little morning. Big morning is on its way.”
So into my room he pads, blankie wrapped around him like a royal robe. It is VERY dark in here, he observes. Maybe she won’t notice.
He arrives at my bedside. He sees my deeply sleeping form, and hears my deeply sleeping breaths.
Yes, he thinks, she wants to be awake.
So he begins tapping my back. Tap tap tap. It takes longer than he expects for me to wake up. He wonders if maybe I’m playing a game, so he continues the tapping, delighted to have such a fun mother.
Suddenly he sees me roll over and stare blankly at him, wide-eyed and disoriented. He waits to see if I am going to thank him for waking me up, but in the absence of my spoken gratitude, he decides he’ll speak first.
“Mom,” he says, “I think it’s a little bit morning.”
This declaration is met with incoherent prattling about how it’s not really morning, and in the agitation of my voice he hears his defeat. Not only am I ungrateful for being awakened, I also seem annoyed that he himself is awake.
Being a generally obedient child, he nods and begins to pad back to his room, blankie now trailing sadly behind him. He gives a backwards glance over his shoulder to the little bit of morning outside, wondering where in his speech to me he went wrong. It was such a good little speech, he thinks. He returns to his room, where to his delight he finds his four-year old friend now awake as well.
“Friend!” he cries. “It’s a little bit morning!”
“It IS?!” his friend joyfully exclaims. And turning on the lamp to compensate for the light that almost-morning lacks, they pull out the toy box and begin to play, blankies settled like robes around their shoulders, both of them glad to be awake.