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July 02, 2002

Sunday Morning Blues

Sunday mornings have always been fascinating to me, because, in a family, it involves getting up, getting dressed and going to Church. So the process is full of potential contradictions.

Here's how a typical Sunday morning goes in our household.

At 5:30am my computer plays ABC News Perspective, via my web page RadioJesus.com. At about 6:00am I start thinking about getting up, then go back to sleep. At 6:30 Billy Graham comes on, my cue to get up, and toss on my usual Sunday morning grungy sweats and shirt.

Two of my kids get medicine in the morning, so I have to go prepare it and give it to them. They take it without ever fully waking up. I then go shave and shower. My wife remains fully asleep throughout. About midway through the shower Billy Graham ends and Unshackled comes on, which, if you've never heard it, is a Radio Dramatization. How my wife can sleep through it I'll never understand because it has creepy organ music and people yelling and, well dramatic stuff. I still try to get her to get up so she won't make us late, but she's sound asleep.

Now, I used to wake my kids up by singing "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" (from the musical Oklahoma) at the top of my lungs, but for some strange reason they found this to be slightly annoying (I believe AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!! SHUT!!! UP!!! was how they put it.) So I reluctantly stopped that. I now just call their names, but of course they know that slackers wake up, upside down being held by their feet while Daddy asks them, with a straight serious face, "What are you doing sleeping upside down?!?" They also have found this to be annoying as well, strange kids, but hey, they get up, and I rarely have to call them more than a few times.

They drag themselves to the breakfast table like cartoon characters, eyes shut, hunched over in an upside down "J" shape, usually dragging a blanket, with one end clutched against their face, so they can still pretend to be sleeping. Asking them to bow their heads for prayer is generally redundant, but it's tradition, so I do it anyway. They then stare uncomprehendingly at their cereal while it grows soggy in the milk. Eventually they begin to comprehend that the shiny thing is a spoon and it can be used to carry food to their mouths. Once they get that first bite in, their instinct takes over from there. 

Meanwhile I now have the job of waking up the wife.

"Wake up, start getting ready." I tell her.

"Mf, mm mfm mm." she replies.

I never dared trying to hold her upside down while asking her why she's sleeping that way, but don't think I haven't been tempted. Finally I get her awake enough to understand me, and she's off to the bathroom. At that point everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing, so I relax at my computer and check my email. At some point while I was out of the house, my wife had a button installed in the chair at my desk so that when I sit down, she knows and immediately pops in to say, "What are you sitting down for we've got a million things to do?!?" She rushes back into the bathroom without waiting for a reply, so I finish reading my email.

Before the kids finish eating, my wife gathers the clothes they're to wear that day and lays them out for them. In nice, even stacks. Even stacks. Separate, even, stacks. Nice, separate, even, stacks. The same way every Sunday morning. Nice, separate, even stacks.

By this time it's about 7:45 to 7:50. I then begin the bargaining with the kids. "OK, whoever is dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, and waiting at the door at," I check the clock, "8:10, will get a Mountain Dew!". In our house Mountain Dew is the accepted currency. We stay well stocked since I'm addicted to the stuff, but my wife doesn't like the kids drinking it. Sunday mornings are sort of an exception. She still isn't thrilled about it, but recognizes the need to get them going. So the kids dive into the nice, separate, even stacks of clothes and immediately begin screaming at each other, "THIS IS MINE!", "HE"S GOT MINE!", "THAT"S MY SHIRT!" Now I've found that there's no use asking which was in which pile because even though all the clothes were laid out in nice, even, separate piles (the same way every Sunday morning) they manage to turn them into several, uneven, mixed piles, and also manage to lose several strategic articles in the process.

I retreat to my desk to check on the morning news.

My wife will exit the bathroom right about then and demand to know what I'm going to wear. "Nothing. It's 'Go To Church Naked Day'. Didn't you read the bulletin?" She glares at me. "Something about Adam and Eve before the fall." Right about then one of the boys enters the room, shirt on backwards, wearing the pants he'd mud wrestled in the day before, to ask if he's only five minutes late would he still get part of a Mountain Dew. He knows the answer, but he wanted to ask just in case. I tell him his shirt is on backwards. My wife asks him where the pants she laid out for him are and he gives her a blank look like she just said "Voulez-vous danser?" So she goes into the living room to find the nice neat, separate piles of clothes have now been converted to furniture covering and mixed with as many dirty clothes as could be found. She tracks down the clean pair of pants she'd laid out for him, usually on one of his brothers, gets the clothes straightened out, then comes back to the bedroom. As she passes me she turns and demands to know what I'm going to wear. "Nothing. I told you it's 'Go Naked To Church Day.' Weren't you listening?" She rolls her eyes, re-enters the bathroom, and continues whatever it is she does in there.

Finally one of the kids (usually the oldest) appears, clothes in order, to comb his hair and brush his teeth, soon followed by the #2 kid. Number three is still sitting in the living room with his shirt on backwards, sitting on the clean pair of pants scanning the room trying to find them. The oldest's idea of his hair being combed is how it looks right after he wakes up. So we insist on combing his hair for him. Once it's finished he's walks out pouting, "It looks dorky." 

"Of course it does," I tell him, "It's every parent's God given right to make their kid look dorky. My parents did it to me, their parents did it to them, and by gum we're not about to stomp on thousands of years of traditions. Just be grateful we haven't had time to get you a pair of corduroy pants that come up to your arm pits." He tries to keep pouting, I mean he gives it a good effort, but then the pout breaks into a grin and he walks off, but at the door he remembers and asks, "Can I have my Mountain Dew?"

I look at the clock, it's 8:00, I look at the ceiling like I'm thinking hard. I frown at him. Deep sigh. Pause. "I guess so." He shoots into the kitchen.

Meanwhile kid #3 is still sitting in the living room. His shirt's still backwards but he's finally found his pants. Now he's looking for his shoes. Kid #4 has been having fun jumping on the bed. She's our only girl so obviously wears a dress, which is hard to mix up with the boys' clothes. And, our good fortune, she dresses herself, often, sometimes several times an hour. About that time she'd come to me with her shoes and socks for me to put on her, or with a brush to brush her hair. I'm still not dressed in my Church clothes, which is making my wife nervous. But then she's still in the bathroom, doing whatever it is she does in there.

Finally at the very last second the last kid (usually #3) gets dressed, and they all enjoy their Mountain Dews. I take about 3 minutes to change into my Sunday clothes, and we all wait for my wife to finish. Which she usually does about 30 minutes later.

I remember growing up how of all the days of the week, Sunday morning was the most tense, because the whole family was getting ready at the same time, and how it seemed to always contrast the purpose we had for the day. From what I hear that's pretty typical. What I've noticed with my family is that it doesn't have to be all tense, and sometimes the difficulties are part of that humanness that we really shouldn't be trying to pretend isn't there, especially on Sunday. Maybe God would rather have us as we are, rather than a spit polished, caricature of ourselves. Not that we shouldn't show reverence and respect for God by dressing up, but keep the fanciness to the clothes, and stand before God as ourselves, in honesty. Maybe that's why Sunday morning always seem so hard. Maybe God's telling us to lighten up a bit, enjoy life. Maybe it's God's way of saying, "Hey, your flies open. Ha, made ya look."


Posted by Jack Lewis at July 2, 2002 04:13 PM