A necessary and unavoidable evil in today’s hurried lifestyle and something I don’t love even at the best of times. Being someone who needs my sleep and having done my time of sleep-deprived nights with babies I try to go to bed early enough at night so I can get up early, exercise and get ready in time for work (which is always easier in summer when it’s light so early) and I set my day-spa style tranquil-sounding harp-music alarm on my phone to wake me up in the mornings, but being married to someone whose sleep pattern resembles that of a dairy farmer (off to bed at about 8pm most nights and up and about at 4am most mornings) I am quite often woken up well before my alarm has gone off. Trying to go back to sleep after that is not always possible seeing as there’s no tranquillity involved anymore and especially since I’m a light sleeper but it’s become a part of the routine now.
And then two years ago my husband decided to do Ironman. The 3.8km swim plus 180km bike plus 42km run type of Ironman that requires up to 20 hours of training per week. That, of course, means daily early training sessions which is no problem for someone who is up that early anyway, except that he now felt that he had to set the alarm to go off that early in case he didn’t wake up in time. (I don’t think any alarm clock is necessary for him as he would have slept in about once a year in the last nearly 18 years of marriage, but be that as it may, he set the alarm.)
To make matters even more interesting we have a variety of alarm clocks in our house. Firstly there is a standard edition and very reliable Blaupunkt clock radio type alarm that has been with us for many years. When this one is in use it wakes you up with a talk-radio show that increases in volume the longer you take to find the button to turn it off. No peaceful music. Talk radio. And the talking becomes louder and more serious and insistent by the second. Something like: “Wake up and turn me off” in a little whisper followed by a more stern “Wake up now and turn me off” and then “WAKE UP THIS INSTANT AND TURN ME OFF!” The other is a model of unknown brand that makes the sound of a rooster crowing at first softly and increasingly louder the longer it takes you to find that button that’s so well hidden, and it has “REPEAT ALARM” printed on it. Wow. As if I would have fallen for that little sales tactic. If the rooster doesn’t wake you up in the first round it promises to repeat the wake-up call! That is assuming there were ever any chances of falling asleep again after the first round of crowing!! This one was bought in Libreville, Gabon and it’s extra special because there is a female voice with a French accent that says: “Alarm on” when you set it, and “Alarm euff” (off) if you press the button again to turn it off.
So, part of the Ironman training regime involves early morning training sessions, as mentioned. Now the trick comes in when Ironman has set his alarm but woke up before it went off (at which time it’s so early that he could have milked some cows before going out training) and in fact forgot to turn it off before he went out the bedroom and I get rudely woken up to either a rooster increasing his volume as I’m fumbling to find the stupid button which I have no idea where it is as it’s not my alarm and I haven’t had a chance to put my glasses on either, or a talk-radio show that also becomes louder and louder as I struggle to turn it off in the dark, at which point I don’t feel like I’m getting woken up in a day spa at all but rather like I’m in a nightmare of a boot camp session that I turned up late and half asleep for. Numerous times I’ve gotten so frustrated that I just unplugged the offending alarm clock from the mains and carried it through to wherever Ironman was sitting blissfully unaware and sipping his morning tea and shoved it in his hands, turned around and went back to bed, no words necessary and sense of humour completely lost somewhere between my pillow and the clock. At other times I’ve also got up to go and hand over the annoying rooster only to find that my husband had already left on whatever that particular morning’s training mission was and I had no idea (or inclination to find out at that pre-pre-dawn point in the morning) how to turn off the stupid clock and I ended up shoving it in the linen cupboard underneath a pile of silencing towels and left it to crow to its heart’s content (on repeat – it is battery powered as well) while the rest of the household tries to get some more sleep.
But my early morning delightful wake-ups don’t end there. Unfortunately Ironman some-(most) times forgets some very crucial piece of clothing such as cycling gloves or equipment such as his cycling computer or any random needed thing in the bedroom after he got up and then comes in search of it with the aid of his headlight that is as strong as a sea rescue search light which he – very considerately as he hasn’t turned on the bedroom light – blindingly points all around the room searching for this missing thing that he needs with the effect of the light bobbing up and down and every which way at which point I feel like a seasick rabbit in the headlight who is late for a boot camp session!
Oh but there is more. When child No 1 was training for his first 14km race earlier in the year he was really disciplined and got up early every morning to go running. He’s learnt all the do’s and don’ts of early morning noise in the house over the years – that is earlier than 5:30am when I get up – and is actually quite considerate in this regard except for the day when he left his phone with the alarm set to go off at 5am in the hall and shut both doors between his bedroom and the hall and went to sleep like a baby. That is he slept like a baby until I got woken up by the alarm which I had no idea what or where it was and went in search of it and then when I found it, went to hand him his phone. Mad rabbit who is late for a boot camp session! He only did that once. Child No 2 has also incurred the wrath of one of us when she accidentally made the mistake of getting up and thinking she’d turned off her alarm but instead had hit “snooze” without realising and then child No 3 got rudely woken up by that alarm. Another mad little rabbit!
There is one other sleep-deprivating clock in the house (to me anyway) and that’s the grandmother clock hanging near the kids’ bedrooms that ticks away the seconds and chimes once on the half hour and as many times as each hour on the hour, and my husband and kids have all got used to it and consider it soothing and comforting background noise but every chime I hear reminds me that I’m awake and it’s getting later and later and closer to the time I will again be woken up by either my own alarm if I’m lucky, or otherwise the talk-radio show or worse still: the French rooster!