The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 6, 2012

Mike Pound: Something’s wrong with this early rising teen

By Mike Pound

— Something is wrong with our 14-year-old daughter, Emma.

Every school-day morning Emma’s alarm clock goes off at about 6 a.m., and every morning Emma turns off the alarm and GETS OUT OF BED!

Who does that?

When I was in high school, my alarm clock would go off at 6 a.m. and I would throw it across my bedroom, trying not to hit my older brother Pat, and then I would go back to sleep until 7:15 a.m, when my mom would quietly wake me up by yelling “GET UP OR YOU WILL BE LATE FOR SCHOOL AND IF YOU’RE LATE FOR SCHOOL I WILL SLOWLY SKIN YOU WITH A VERY DULL KNIFE.”

I’ve said this before, but my mom was not exactly Donna Reed.

My point is that teenagers are not supposed to get up on their own on school days. Teenagers are supposed to be dragged — kicking and screaming — out of bed so they can frantically run around the house, getting ready seconds before it’s time to leave for school. Teenagers, on school days, are supposed to get up much the same way Dagwood Bumstead gets up on work-day mornings.

After Emma gets up at 6 a.m., she spends 10 minutes arranging her school clothes and spends the next 20 minutes working on her hair. At exactly 6:30 a.m., Emma leaves her room and goes into her bathroom. Sometimes I hear Emma as she goes into her bathroom. When I do, I do what any parent would do: I go back to sleep.

I am not the sort of person that gets out of bed easily. I’ve heard stories about people who rise before the sun is up so they can “enjoy the quiet of the morning.” I think that’s crazy. As far as I’m concerned, anytime before the sun comes up is, by definition, still night.

Many years ago, I used to do a morning radio show with my friend Gary Bandy. Because we did a morning radio show, the people in charge of the radio station expected Gary and me to get to work very early — which I thought was unfair.

“Mike we need you here by 5:30 a.m.”

“Uh, I was thinking more like noonish.”

Our radio show began at 6 a.m., and most of the time I arrived at the radio station well before 6:30 a.m., which I thought was pretty good. One time we tried to run a contest in which listeners would guess the first day I would be late for work. I was late on the first day of the contest.

But Emma isn’t like me. Emma has no trouble waking up in the morning. Actually, I don’t have trouble waking up in the morning. I have trouble waking up in the morning when I have to do something I don’t want to do. I like my job well enough but I don’t like it enough to want to jump out of bed at the crack of 7 a.m.

When I’m on vacation, I seldom have trouble getting out of bed. This past summer, when we were in Key West, Fla., I never had trouble waking up in the morning. When I have nothing to do I’m always anxious to get up early so I can start doing nothing. Why sleep when you don’t have to?

But Emma isn’t like me. Emma has no trouble getting out of bed on school-day mornings. Emma does have trouble getting out of bed on the weekends when she doesn’t really have much to do. I try to tell Emma that when she has nothing to do, it’s better to get an early start doing it. When I say that, Emma just shakes her hair and walks away.

Sigh. Kids these days.