Spiral Notebook Sunday: Sunday, October 25, 2003

This week's entry is all about the numbers. So here, a few numbers to get you started. At the time this entry was written, Son-One was 15; Son-Two, 13; Son-Three, 12 and Daughter-Only, 9.




Sunday, October 25, 2003

Mornings at our house are all about the numbers. For instance, six people and one bathroom. The boys are up by 6:45 and out, ideally, by 7:30 (no need to panic until 7:45, though). Daughter-Only is up by 8 and out by 8:30, ideally, but 8:35 is the absolute panic line for her because her bus driver is constitutionally incapable of coming on any kind of regular schedule. We don't expect on-the-dot timing every day, but this guy can't even keep it within a ten-minute window--hence cause for panic at 8:35 even though on many days he's not there until 8:55 or later.

Adding to the numerical joy is the fact that my alarm goes off at 6:30, so I can be sort of a back-up for he boys' own alarms. Rather than reset my alarm for 8, when I actually have to be up, I repeatedly hit the snooze alarm, which goes off every 9 minutes for an hour-and-a-half (ten times). I do this even when it's obvious the boys are up without needing my backup (nagging, I believe, is the more familiar term).

I am a snooze alarm expert--capable of hitting the snooze button purely by instinct, often with no fumbling around. It's as though there is some biomagnetic connection between my hand and the button. Even when I'm so groggy I can barely open my eyes, I can do the math to figure out when the next alarm is going off (how many minutes are left and the nearer I am to the end of my "snoozing," the more precious each minute becomes).

One morning this past week, Daughter-Only, Hubby and I were all trying to get up and out of the house by 8:30 and the following conversation took place:

D-O (looking at the clock on my nightstand): MOM! It's 8:10!

Me: It's ten minutes fast.

Hubby (barely lifting his head off the pillow and squinting at the clock above the computer): That one says 7:55.

Me: Yeah, it's five minutes slow.

D-O (from the dining room): The microwave clock says 8:03, but it's two minutes fast!

For some reason, this struck us all as beyond hysterical. Of the other clocks in our downstairs--there's an alarm clock in the computer room, which is either unset or unplugged, there's a clock on the CD player in the living room, which is unset and flashing a completely incorrect time, and there's a clock on the stove, which was at one point correct, but between power outages and Hubby rearranging appliances (and hence, unplugging the stove), it is wrong by hours. I used to go around setting the flashing clocks, but have long since given up. Hubby is a habitual rearranger and won't reset any of them himself.

As for the stove clock, which is an analog and, therefore, non-flashing, I see it's incorrectness as an homage to my grandfather, whose stove it once was. Pap had refused to turn the clock forward or back for daylight saving adjustments for as long as I can remember--just that one clock so it was more a symbolic rebellion than anything. I got the stove last year as a hand-me-down from Dad and Girlfriend when they replaced it with an all-digital, touch-button, ceramic-top model. For all I know, the new one automatically makes adjustments for daylight saving, which seems so wrong somehow.

In any case, the clock on the old stove is wronger than ever and I view this as an extreme version of what Pap was trying to say when he refused to change his clock on the whims of society. Not merely (as Chicago so pathetically (and pseudo-philosophically) crooned): Does anybody really know what time it is? More like: Who the hell are you to tell me what time it is?