[This is one of the posts telling a story from the life of my Dad. Click here to see the others.]
My Dad was always an early riser. Going to bed at 9:00 and getting up at 5:00 (or earlier) were normal parts of his lifestyle. In my younger days, I thought that I was a night owl because I went to bed later and slept later than he did. Now as a parent of young kids myself, I really consider myself neither a night owl nor a morning person. See, some people like to burn the candle on both ends, but I just like to sleep on both ends. Let me have my Dad's bedtime at night and also sleep past 7 in the morning, and I am one happy camper. (I blame it on being 6'7". It just takes more sleep to rest a body that's this long.)
After my Dad died, one of my brothers recounted the comfort that it was to hear him walking in the hallway so early in the morning. The sun wasn't up yet, but we knew that Dad was ready for the day whenever we could hear the sound of his boots outside our bedroom door. It's funny how certain sounds stay with us. In the last years of his life, he began to wear boots less often, and since I lived away for eleven years after high school, it's been at least sixteen years since I last heard the sound of those morning boots, but I can still hear them as if he were walking in the hallway while I'm typing this.
Since I was the youngest of three boys, and my middle brother was four years older than me, I had my high school years as the only one of my parents' sons still at home. It wasn't unusual for my Mom to travel for work, so it left quite a few mornings where it was just my Dad and me in the house. Thus, the challenge was his to get me out of bed. I believe it was during those years that he developed a simple and ingenious method for dealing with his sleepy son:
First, he would always give me a legitimate shot at getting out of bed in peace by knocking on my door and saying, "Time to get up, kiddo." That alone was nearly always insufficient for my sleeping habits, and he knew it, so he began to implement a second step after giving me about 10 minutes to get up after the knock on the door. He would turn on a radio that we had on the other side of the house from my bedroom, set it on a Spanish station, turn the volume as high as it would go, and then he would go work outside. I was left with the radio blaring en Español until I got up and turned it off.
Surprisingly for a sleepy teenager, I don't recall this ever making me mad. (Though I suppose my early morning memory shouldn't be trusted too much.)
A huge part of what made my Dad a great dad was his ability to get his point across without ever getting upset and by using as few words as possible. I need more of those skills with my kids. Instead of doing the equivalent of my Dad's method of getting me out of bed with my kids, I often resort to the classic methods of repeating instructions or trying to reason with my kids (ages 1 and 3). Of course, those just make my patience wear out all the more quickly, which then leads me to get mad, and the only thing getting mad does is make me madder.
So I'm giving up on those methods. From now on, I'll look for more opportunities to use something like the Tejano radio method of raising children.