Olive decided to get up at 5:00 AM today. Early wake up calls quickly set off an interesting battle of wills and a series of strategic moves between Leanne, Olive, and myself.
Usually we can tell when Olive has just woken up because she was uncomfortable or needed to move around or had a bad dream about Elmo and Abraham Lincoln or something like that that. Surprisingly, we can tell that she isn’t really ready for the day because she is crying. How often do you wake up screaming a crying and then hop out of bed refreshed? So Leanne and I usually roll over and do our best to simply ignore the crying baby. (I know, we are horrible parents, but at this point I have dealt with roughly 330 days of crying baby and am getting a pretty good handle on what is a “normal” cry and what is a “dude, get out of bed and pick me up!” cry.) Our ability to fall back asleep with a screaming baby in the other room has really been impressive lately.
We can tell when Olive is really awake for the day when she starts babbling. Sure, there is a little crying and screaming mixed in, but mostly it is a bunch of “ba-ba-ma-ma-goo-goo-da-da.” Which in Baby means: “Boy, I had a wonderful sleep. Now if one of my parents could drag their tired ass out of bed and get me some food and change my diaper it would be great. I would do it myself but, come on, I pee myself on a regular basis, you expect me to make my own breakfast?”
But there are mornings, of course, when Olive wakes up babbling and, well, we just ain’t ready to hear the babble. This usually happens anywhere between five and six in the morning. We deem the hours before six simply UNACCEPTABLE for a person to be awake. I mean, Sesame Street doesn’t even go on until six. What child wants to wake up and watch the morning news?
So first, Leanne and I ignore the pre approved-wake-up-time babbling. We just lie there listening, motionless, with our eyes firmly closed. Neither of us makes a peep for a few minutes, perhaps hoping that we can will Olive back to sleep with our minds. Sometimes, it works. Really, though, we are doing our best to fall back to sleep so that we can wake up an hour later to a screaming baby and pretend we didn’t hear happy awake baby an hour before. (Like I said, HORRIBLE parents. Seriously, if they licensed people to raise a child we wouldn’t get past the written test.)
So when waiting out the babble doesn’t work, one of us finally turns to the other and makes an astute observation: “Olive is awake.” We then both pretend to be more tired than we ever have been in our entire life, hoping that the other one picks up on this and volunteers to get Olive. It becomes a battle of wills. Little passive-aggressive jabs are thrown: “Man, I didn’t sleep well last night” or “Are you going out tonight? Am I watching Olive?” Maybe one of us pretends to have a headache or mentions that they have a full slate of meetings at work that day. Every once and a while a haymaker is thrown: “I got up with her the last three mornings!” or “I’m going to have to get up with her ALL weekend!”
It doesn’t matter if any of this is true, by the way. One morning last week I told Leanne that she should get up because I had gotten up “all week.” She then pointed out that she had been the first out of bed two out of the last four mornings. I knew this, but was just hoping she was groggy enough not to remember.
All the while Olive is babbling away, practically begging to get out of her crib.
Sometimes one of us will throw in a little reverse psychology. “Oh, Olive is awake. I’ll get up. You sleep.” This is the toughest one to read. Are they really just being nice? Have I been getting up a lot lately? I could call the bluff, roll over, close my eyes and say “Okay, go ahead” and risk being labeled an insensitive prick; but at least I would be an insensitive prick who gets to sleep for another hour. Do I respond with “Oh no, don’t worry, I’ll get up” hoping that the other will see this as such a nice gesture that now they really DO want to let me sleep? Meanwhile, the same type of maneuvering is occurring on the other side of the bed. How many times should I insist that I should be the one to get up before the other believes that I’m sincere. I want to go right up to that line.
All this while little Olive is staring at the ceiling wondering why she is STILL in bed.
So 5:00 AM this morning comes and Olive is, yes, awake and, yes, babbling like Jodie Foster in Nell. Leanne makes the first move to get up. I make the second move, saying that I, the gallant man, will get up. Then she floors me. She calls my bluff and rolls over! I’m stunned. It was an inspired play by Leanne. I was stuck, there was no room for me to maneuver, I already had my feet on the floor. I HAD to get up. I heavy-foot it out of the room. Not trying to be quiet in the least. I think I purposely by-accident knocked a few things over in Olive’s room.
A battle lost, but the war continues.