I can’t remember exactly what time my bedtime was as a child. I know I always went to bed missing something spectacular, because the adults were always anxious to get us kids to bed. And asleep. Right now.
We were told we didn’t need anything to drink and we just went to the bathroom and it wasn’t too hot or too cold in the room. We had plenty of pillows and blankets and we could not stay up just five more minutes. My brother and I would lie awake in our beds and toss things at each other until one of us would eventually fall asleep. Eventually, our mother bought us a small black and white television for our room and that was the end of everything. Now, we could watch TV all night. Or so we thought. We did not realize the glow of the television could be seen from pretty much anywhere in the house. Not to mention the fact that our mother could actually hear whatever we were watching regardless of the level of volume.
I can’t imagine why we fought sleep so much when we were young. There are more than enough instances where I think that I could use more sleep. I leave for work at 7 a.m. and get home at 7 p.m. I barely have enough time for dinner and a little family time before it’s time to go to bed. Usually, there is some difficulty falling asleep. It’s not easy to wind down after a very active day.
I remember being a kid and hearing of this magical person called Johnny Carson. Johnny Carson, whoever he was, knew everyone and did everything. All I knew was I wanted to grow up soon so I could be old enough to stay up when Johnny Carson came over. The grownups talked about Johnny Carson all the time. Johnny would only come over when the kids were sound asleep, I thought. He knew famous people and I figured one day I would be old enough to stay up when Johnny brought Burt Reynolds over. I remember being able to stay up late on special occasions. When my mother went out, my brother and I could stay up until eleven o’clock and watch television with our grandparents. TV got much cooler after 9 p.m. and soon we looked forward to staying up on the weekends and seeing our favorite shows. Soon, I found out that Johnny Carson was a guy on TV and not someone that all the grownups knew.
As I got older, bedtimes grew later and more flexible. By the time I was a teenager, my parents had pretty much figured out that I would go to sleep when I was tired and the consequences would speak for themselves. I would like to take this opportunity, thirty years later, to apologize to Mr. Seaman, my 9th grade Earth Science teacher, for taking a not-so-discreet cat nap during a filmstrip presentation on plate tectonics. I would also like to thank my friend John Adams for poking me a few times to keep me mostly awake. John and I are still friends to this day and he might be thrilled to see his name in the newspaper.
As a father, I discovered the true difficulty of trying to get a child to sleep when you have something that needs to get done. I found out soon enough that when an infant or toddler should be asleep, they are awake. When they should be awake, they are asleep. As above, I would like apologize to another fine man, the pastor who christened our younger daughter, who was able to perform the entire ceremony while our daughter snored like a small electric chainsaw in a pretty dress. I would also like to apologize for my father-in-law, who should have known what a good bedtime was for himself, but falls into a deep slumber the moment he enters a house of God.
I have a pretty regimented evening routine. I have, even at my age, a set bedtime. I am big on routine and my day job requires me to be alert at all times. I am usually in bed no later than 10 p.m. on weeknights. Weekends are a free-for-all. Some weekend nights , I am in bed by 9. Others, I might stay up until well past 2. I still get up early on the weekends, though, because I don’t believe in wasting a day.
My wife is always asleep before I am and I have to find something to drown out the noise of her snoring. She claims that she doesn’t snore and I have told her time and time again that she does. I think I am going to have to get some kind of recording device and record her snoring and play it back to her.
She says I snore. I know I snore. My own snoring woke me up once. This is a true story. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Perhaps a sleep expert could explain it. My wife said I swallowed a trombone before I went to bed. I told her she was no less of a trombone herself. She didn’t say she was mad at me, but she made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner the following evening and didn’t put any cheese on mine.
I probably have a lot more to say on the subject, but as the time of this writing it is almost my bedtime. I need to get to sleep before my wife gets out the trombone.
Contributing columnist and Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.