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How to Get Your Sleepyhead Out of Bed, Part I: Revenge of the Howler Monkey

Posted by Elisabeth Wilkins

My son has inherited my “sleeping gene” as my husband calls it. I can—and have—slept through everything from crashing thunderstorms to earthquakes. As a kid, I remember my mother doing everything short of setting off fireworks to get me up, from tearing the covers off me in the dead of winter to sprinkling cold water on my face. But at least I wasn’t as bad as my brother, who’s even more legendary in the sleep department than I am. My mom used to carry him to the bathroom in the morning until he was twelve. He was taller than she was even then, so his feet literally touched the floor as she lugged him down the hall. I didn’t want the Sherpa treatment, so nothing else worked for my mom except hauling me out of bed by my feet. “I hope you have a child who’s just like you, so you know what it feels like,” she warned. Well, it’s happened. My son is, if anything, an even bigger sleepyhead than I am. Since kindergarten is starting in the fall, I’ve been getting increasingly nervous about his chances of making it to the school bus on time. I have the feeling that if I don’t do something, we’re going to be in big trouble a few years from now. I talked to James Lehman about it after I read his latest article on Back-to-School. “Get him an alarm clock. It gets him in the habit of waking up to an alarm from an early age,” he advised. We went out and bought a cute little monkey clock over the weekend. (Unfortunately, I forgot the second half of James’ advice—get a clock with a subtle alarm.)

It went off this morning. It seems I didn’t read the label carefully—it’s a howler monkey alarm clock. The thing screams like its tail is on fire, and sounds disturbingly human. We all ejected out of our beds, my husband Joe clutching a vacuum cleaner nozzle—for protection, I assumed—our hearts beating a mile a minute. Our son Alex jumped out of bed like a champ. “It works,” he yelled proudly, and ran to the bathroom. Joe and I stood staring at each other, ashen-faced and slightly nauseous. “Are you going to take it back or should I,” Joe said, his eyes in a permanent state of bulginess from the shock of being awakened by the sound of a screaming monkey. “Shock the monkey?” I said weakly. He didn’t laugh.

Now I just have to find a way to switch that darned monkey for a cricket clock and we’ll be all set.

Does anyone out there have good tips for waking their kids up in the morning? What consequences do you give them if they don’t get up? Please share your tips with the EP community!


About Elisabeth Wilkins

Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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