I love my mornings.
I’m not a big fan of sleep, really. In fact, I wish amongst the endless streams of seemingly pointless research going on in our universities (I read the other day that watching 7 hours or more of television a day reduces your life expectancy – really?), someone was determined to discover a way to permanently remove the need for sleep from our lives. Just behind the promises of hanging out with Jesus forever and catching up with family and friends I haven’t seen in years, the notion that we won’t sleep in heaven is a very big selling point for me to permanently relocate there when this nap-happy life is over.
As it is, I rise most mornings at 4:30. I enjoy a large pot of coffee and some quiet time to read and write.
Although I’ve come to relish that quiet time, I know each morning right around 6, my fellow early bird joins me. I’ll hear Elliott stumbling through the dark of the house, tripping over the debris from the previous night’s play storm before greeting me in the back of the house with his hands over his eyes to shade them from the light. He’ll hop up in my lap, give me a big hug, and then we tell each other I love you.
One morning this week Elliott switched up the routine. When he found me in the back he immediately looked out the window into the back yard.
“Why is it still dark, daddy?” he asked.
I know he was thinking he had gotten up to early, but he hadn’t.
“The seasons are changing. Each day now it is going to be a little darker each day when you wake up. It’s almost fall.”
The explanation satisfied him, and he hopped up in my lap and got along with our regular routine.
Some time later while Elliott was drinking his morning cup of juice, which seems to fire him up in the same way my morning coffee does me, Ian got up. Ian has his own morning routine. Much like Elliott, you hear Ian stumbling down the hall as he fights to join us. Only Ian isn’t tripping over anything left behind the night before. He’s tripping over the piles of bedding he insists on sleeping with each night.
Ian collects blankets and insists on sleeping with each one of them. At last count there were seven. He inventories them before he goes to sleep and can tell in an instant if one is missing. The collection has grown to include a blanket he stole from Gigi and Papa Hoss’s house, on accident according to him, as well as one he borrowed from me for a nap on the couch one afternoon and somehow he was suddenly the owner of that blanket. Don’t leave a blanket you like unattended if Ian is around.
When Ian finally joins Elliott and I in the morning, it’s like having a ghost enter the living room. A big pile of blankets floats in front of us until it reaches the couch, where Ian digs his way from underneath them and suddenly appears like a groundhog on Groundhog’s Day. Only this day he finds out it’s probably best he crawl back in the hole. There’s a lot more winter left to sleep through.
“Hey Ian, it’s dark outside because it’s almost Fall,” Elliott told him.
“What’s going to fall?” Ian asked, still a bit tired, even for a groundhog.
Elliott, not missing a beat, told him “the leaves are going to fall, only they won’t be green, they’ll be colorful, because green leaves don’t fall.”
I readily admit, when Katie and I hear answers like that come out of Elliott’s mouth, we tend to think we have a pretty sharp little boy. I’m sure all parents feel that way, and they should. Ian on the other hand, he doesn’t buy into that.
When hearing Elliott’s “leaves” answer, Ian did what he often does. He just stared at Elliott. And it is always with this look that seems to say: Elliott, you are so full of crap.
He held that look for about 30 seconds, then looked up at me just as sweet and innocent as Ian can look. “Daddy, can I have some juice?”
He then settled back down and pulled his pile of blankets over him.
Elliott, who seems to sometimes sense Ian’s indifference to his teachings, turned his head away from Ian and toward the television while softly saying, just loud enough to be heard, “The leaves really are going to fall Ian.”