This morning I was getting ready to leave for work at the crack of dawn, when Elise comes strolling into the kitchen, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and incredibly alert for it to be an entire hour before her usual wake up time. She casually sits down at the kitchen table and asks for some iced tea, to which I say, sure, I’ll be happy to make you a glass.
Then she looks me up and down and notices that I’m dressed and ready to leave in my spiffy-going-out clothes (as opposed to my icky-stay-at-home clothes) and says, obviously befuddled, “What are you doing back in your work clothes? Weren’t you just wearing a nightgown?”
I nod, getting the tea from the fridge and filling a glass, “Sure, I was at bedtime, but now I’m going to work.”
There’s a thick moment of silence, and this sickening look begins creeping across my daughter’s face.
“What time is it?” she whispers, eyes darting around the kitchen trying to get her bearings.
“You’ve got about an hour before it’s time to get up and get ready for school.”
She slowly shakes her head and looks at me like I’ve just announced that we’re shaving our heads and traveling to Pluto for a family outing this afternoon.
“What?! What?! That’s not possible!”
I stop too now, because I wouldn’t be the first idiot in the world to wake up at 2:00in the morning and start getting ready for work. I’ve had a shower and shaved my legs; if it’s the middle of the night I am going to be FOUL.
But, no, no, don't press the internal panic button just yet--the clock on the oven and the one on the wall both say that it’s 5:40 a.m.--time to boogie.
“Elise, what’s wrong?”
She shakes her head out again and says very quietly, in a tiny little voice, “I got scared when Daddy turned off my TV at bedtime, so I turned it back on for a few minutes after everyone was asleep. I liked the light and the noise. Mommy, I never went to bed. I never fell asleep. I didn't mean to. I’ve been awake this whole time—-this whole night—-watching television.”
There’s a second or two where I start this dialogue about not being silly, of course you went to bed, but suddenly my voice drifts off into nothingness as the evidence starts coming together...way too alert, way too friendly for Elise at 5:00 a.m., not a hair out of place, no little crusty drool line on the corner of her mouth, no sleep marks on her arms or face...the kid stayed awake all night on accident.
I’m not sure how many points you actually forfeit on the Perfect Mommy Title when your 8-yr-old stays up until dawn watching the Disney Channel on a school night, but you can bet it’s a wad of them.
So, I snatched back that glass of sugar and caffeine and put her back in the bed (television unplugged, natch). I told her to sleep until she woke up and we’d take her to school then. Although, I’m not sure that you can check your child into school with “stayed up all night watching TV while parent’s slept” on that little check-in slip and have it excused...drat. So, if I put down “upset stomach” it’s technically not a lie because my stomach was certainly upset when she fessed up. So was hers come to think of it.