It happens in an instant, doesn’t it? The sweet, downy ducklings used to be up and at ’em at the crack of dawn, so round and comfy in their onesie fleece jammies, wobbly in orbit around you with sippy cups and picture books clutched in their chubby dimpled hands. Those sweet soft babies have morphed into long-limbed sleepy teens who hibernate till noon on snow days and weekends, emerge cloaked in comforters, stagger to the tv, and stare and wake up there for another few hours.
The kid who used to shovel cereal down the gullet before he had both eyes open can now play through three, maybe four NFL games on the X-Box before even needing any sugar, ahem, nourishment. PBS morning cartoons have been replaced by reruns of Friends (if you’re lucky) or Dance Moms (unlucky). The constant litany of “mom!” “mom!” “mom!” has become a yawning silence punctuated by grunts.
Christmas morning was the harbinger. For years we pleaded with them to wait till at least 6 am, till we could see streaks of sunlight through the windows, till the day had in fact dawned. Excited, breathless voices would whisper, inches from our faces, “Is it 6 yet?” Then one year we thought they must surely be dead. Still sleeping at 9am! Santa Schmanta – those gifts weren’t going anywhere. That was the slowest, most languid opening of presents ever. Turns out lots of coffee makes picking up all that discarded wrapping paper a breeze! How ironic is it that staying up till 2 am assembling bikes and big doll houses is only required when they’ll be up in a couple of hours? The gifts get smaller as the children get bigger. Easy to hide but no one is really looking for them anymore. Another of life’s little ironies.
These days, the teens stay up later than we do. I used to think my mother was crazy for always falling asleep on the couch after insisting that we all had to watch her show. She’d wake as it ended, wondering, “What did I miss?” Now, of course, I totally get it. Exhaustion sets in, proving yet again that a thing in motion stays in motion, and a thing at rest passes out cold after a long day. It happens in an instant.