Monthly Archives: November 2007

When the Dark (When the Clocks Change, Part 2)

I cannot get the beginning lyrics to Ben E. King’s song Stand By Me out of my head. The part that goes:

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

Because not only did I miss out on that lovely extra hour of sleep that most people get to enjoy at the change over to standard time, but I battle against a nightly panic when I step outside after work to head to my car and find that it’s pitch black out. 

I should be used to this by now, considering it happens every year.  But I am not.  Every evening, now that it’s dark before 6:00, I feel very suddenly and extremely rushed.  I feel a need to hurry home, to be home ALREADY, to draw the blinds, lock the doors, and batten down against the night.

It doesn’t make sense, really.  If I look at a clock I can easily see that it’s 6:00 p.m. and all is well.  We’ll eat dinner when I get home, around 6:30, like we have all summer and early fall, like we did when it was still light out.  But this sense of urgency, of the day being OVER, of it being too close to bedtime, of me not having had enough daylight to spend with my son, I can’t shake it.  It will repeat itself nightly until some time in the Spring, when the clocks jump forward once again and the sun still lights the sky when I climb into my car to drive home after work.  But right now, as soon as the sun sets, I feel like the day, the ENTIRE day, not just the work part, is over. Finis. And like I missed it. 

The feeling evokes anxiety of the kind I feel on Sundays, my least favorite day of the week.  Even on Sunday morning, with a whole day ahead of me, I feel that the weekend is over, that I’m only preparing for Monday.  I feel like I must hurry, that I cannot relax.

Once I am home in the evenings, where it’s warm and bright inside, but dark and cold outside, the idea of a world full of lights and activity just down the road from me seems impossible.  And yet it’s not.

I’m nearly always surprised, on the occasions that I venture out of the house after dark in the winter, to find that others are out and about.  It’s as if the jolt of an electric shock runs through me and wakes me up when I see that the parking lots and shopping centers are well lit, the roads are buzzing with cars, the restaurants are serving dinner and the stores are full of bustling shoppers.  Life, I suddenly realize anew, does go on after dark.  Obviously not everyone feels the need to bunker down when the sun sets.

And then there are people who prefer the darkness.  I call them vampires.  Or former co-workers…  I used to, many years ago, work for an environmental firm.  It was a place that, among other things, was fond of trying to conserve energy.  Some of the offices had been fitted with lights that were set motion detectors.  The lights would come on as you entered the room.  But they’d shut off if they didn’t detect nearly constant movement.  Unless you were a very fidgety kind of typist, you’d be sitting in the dark after a few keystrokes.  Then you’d have to stand up and wildly wave your arms around trying to trigger the sensors into turning the lights back on. 

In other areas of the building they didn’t bother to install motion sensors.  They simply turned the lights out.  During the day.  While everyone was working.  The bosses felt that the sunlight filtering in through the windows was light enough, so they’d turn out hallway lights and half of the ceiling lights over the maze of cubicles.  Even on the sunniest of days it made the place feel dim.  On cloudy days it was like working in the deep dank recesses of a cave.  In the winter, by late afternoon, the place was full of long suffocating shadows – filing cabinets and bookcases looming out of proportion.  The last person to leave the office was supposed to turn off all the lights.  Since that was often me, my husband gave me a flashlight to light my way lest I trip over an errant file folder on my way to the front door.  It was unnerving, working all day in a dimly lit building then being the last to leave and needing a flashlight to do so.      

I don’t know how much energy, if any, was saved this way, but I know “that deal with the lights” as I came to call it, nearly drove me insane.

Now the night has come, and the land is dark, but it’s okay.  I am home.  I am bunkered down against the cold, against the night.  And the moon is NOT the only light I see.  I’ve got the lights turned on all over this place. 



Filed under anxiety, darkness, life, lights, standard time

When the Clocks Change

So that extra hour of sleep this weekend… You know, the one you got with the change back to standard time? How was it?  Did you enjoy it?  If you did, don’t tell me about it.  I haven’t benefited from that extra hour of sleep even once in the past six years.

Since my son’s birth, little joys like an extra hour of sleep, even once a year, have become a thing of the past.  The kid wakes up pretty much the same time every morning, regardless of when he goes to bed the night before.  If I put him to bed at 8:30, he’s up by 6:15.  If I keep him up until midnight, he’s still up by 6:15, with the added bonus of grump personality to polish it off.  To remind me that not only was he up until midnight, but so was I.  And that sucks.

This year though, I actually allowed myself to get my hopes up a little.  Snags and his dad were having an Xbox night, and I thought I’d head off to bed early, maybe grab two extra hours of sleep.  It was going to be great.  My husband would put Snags to bed and then he was going to sleep in another room because I was getting up early to go running, and he didn’t want my alarm to wake him.  You know, the way his alarm clock wakes me every.damn.morning. of the week. 

So I went to bed.  And you see where this is going right?  It’s all downhill from where I got my hopes up.  Because an hour later I woke up and needed to go to the bathroom.  I went, then I crawled back in bed, closed my eyes, and the dog started scratching at the bedroom door.  She needed to go outside.  Grudgingly I got up, went downstairs, and let her out.  I climbed the stairs and crawled back in bed.  And that’s exactly when somebody else’s dog, outside somewhere, started barking.  Bark, bark, barking.  So my dog started growling.  Right there, in the middle of my bed, in the dark, she’s lying there growling. Now this this probably only went on for ten minutes, but it felt like hours until I got up and shot both dogs. 

Okay, okay.  I didn’t shoot them (please note, no animals were harmed in the making of this story).  But I did lie there imaging myself calling the police and asking them to troll the neighborhood listening for the barking dog and for them to shoot it to put me out of my misery…

Eventually the outside dog stopped barking and my dog stopped growling in response, and I fell back to sleep.  But then I dreamt about work stuff.  Now dreaming about work generally sucks any time it happens but it is especially sucktacular when it happens on weekends. 

I don’t know if I met the work deadline in my dreams because my dog woke me up AGAIN by scratching at the bedroom door so she could go outside and do her business, AGAIN.  Had my husband been in bed with me I would have kicked him and pretended I hadn’t, pretended I was sound asleep, and he would have heard her and gotten up and taken her outside.  But of course he wasn’t there.  So I tried to fool the dog into sleep by calling her name all sweet and enticing like until she jumped back on the bed, and then I petted her, hoping she’d fall asleep and forget about her need to pee for the second time in three hours.  But it was wasted petting because she didn’t fall asleep, and she jumped down off the bed and scratched at the door with her mangy paw until I gave up and took her downstairs to let her out again. 

This time, as I headed back up to bed, I started thinking about Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the book I have been reading, and how perhaps there was a vampire RIGHT BEHIND ME ON THE STAIRS and so I ran up the stairs as fast as I could, cursing the dog and the scary book and the night and the fact that I had to get up in a few short hours to go running.  Of course when I got to the top of the stairs my heart was pounding, and as I climbed into bed AGAIN, I could feel my heartbeat and hear it in my ears.  Like a bad drum beat.  In the middle of the night.

I tried to fall asleep again but this time my brain wouldn’t shut off and I just kept thinking of all kinds of shit: the route I was planning to run, how cold it would be in the morning, the birthday party Snags had to go to in the afternoon, whether or not I’d let the dog back in the house if she woke me up a third time, the laundry I needed to take care of so I’d have some clean clothes for work, the Halloween decorations that I needed to put away, the scary book I was reading…

Then I realized it was hot in the room.  I tried to ignore the feeling but it wasn’t getting any better, so I threw off the covers.  That didn’t help so I got up and changed out of my flannel pajamas into something not so flannely and crawled back under the covers trying to decide if I should leave the flannels on the floor or put them in the bed under the covers.  In the morning, I knew, I’d be cold and want to change, but the flannel pajamas would be too cold to put back on if I left them on the floor. Even in different pajamas I was hot, so I had to get up again to turn on the ceiling fan.  Ten minutes later, of course, I was freezing, so I had to pull all the covers up onto the bed again.  All in all, between the temperature game and my brain that was on overload, I was awake for an hour and a half.  Add to that the treks up and down the stairs to let my dog out, and the stranger dog barking outside somewhere, and instead of gaining an hour of sleep, I lost a ton.

What’s that saying?  One step forward, two steps back?  So I’m mad. And bitter.  I can’t get that sleep back.  It’s gone forever.  And sadly, I know that when Spring rolls around, and we all have to move our clocks forward again, I’ll be even more behind.


Filed under daylight savings time, dog, humor, life, sleep, standard time

And Then She Said

And then she said, “Your son is successful in all the areas here, he doesn’t need improvement in any of them.  Let me show you some of his work and give you some examples of what I am talking about…”

She pulled out the spelling test. “Your son,” she said, “was the only child in the entire class who knew how to spell every sight word we’ve learned so far.”

“Look at his writing,” she said, as she pulled out another sheet.  “And look here,” she pointed.  “He knows how to use punctuation marks!  I can talk about something one day and the next day he is incorporating it into his writing.  Because I know he is listening, it is easy for me to sneak in more learning.  I can write a question on the board and casually mention to the class that this is a question mark and we use it when we ask a question, and the next day your son is using question marks appropriately in his writing.  None of the other children are doing this.” 

“And here,” she pointed again, “he is using QUOTATION MARKS!  I talked about them just the other day and the next day he was trying them out!” 

“I LOVE having him in my class,” she said.  “I just get so excited because I see he is learning things and I can just slip new concepts in, like punctuation marks, and I know that he at least, will pick up on them.  We don’t usually teach punctuation marks in Kindergarten but it’s an easy thing for me to slip in there and your son picks up on it and has something new to think about and practice using.”

“In math, he is so advanced I’ve arranged to meet with the math enrichment teacher to have her develop a special math program for him so we can continue to meet his needs and so he won’t be bored.  It will be special, just for him, and only one or two other children in the entire Kindergarten.”

“The other children,” she went on, “look up to him and go to you son for help on things.  In fact, just the other day a bunch of them went up to him on the playground to get him to solve a problem for them.  They had been playing something and had some kind of problem and one of them said “Snags can help us solve this!”  And the children all agreed, so off they went to find him.  He has lots of friends here. He gets along with everyone.  He likes to help others.”

“He follows the rules, he is responsible. I can always count on him to listen and do what I have asked.  I don’t have to repeat myself.”

Right up until that last sentence I had been nodding my head and smiling encouragingly.  Tell me more! I thought. Go on, brag up my kid!  I thought.  I mean, I knew he was pretty smart.  We haven’t done any IQ tests or anything, but compared to some of the kids he plays with whom I can’t even understand, who don’t know their shapes or their colors or how to count to ten, well, he just seemed pretty smart to me.  He can count up to 200, and he uses words like apparently and evidently and vegetation and possibility and perhaps.

But then she said “He follows the rules…I can always count on him to listen and do what I have asked.  I don’t have to repeat myself…” and I got such a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  She can’t be talking about my kid, I thought.  Certainly not.  Listening?  Not having to repeat herself?  If she’s got this part confused with some other child, then maybe all the smarty pants talk was about another kid as well…

Because right before the babysitter knocked on the door so my husband and I could go to the parent-teacher conference, I had to take the LEGOS away for misbehavior.  For not listening.  For not following the rules.  Get a bath without arguing.  Brush your teeth and get your pajamas on…  “Okay, fine then.  I am taking away the LEGOS!”

But she said she was talking about my kid. 

So I invited her to come live with us.


Filed under humor, Kindergarten, life, parent teacher conference, school, smart, Snags