During the kinder years Meg was getting between 11 and 12 hours sleep a day- bed by 7 and up between 6 and 7. Since starting school- and this corresponding with my work hours doubling- she has been going to bed between 7 and 8 but getting up between 5 and 6. So that means some nights she only gets nine hours sleep. Then she walks an hour to school, does a full day of school (that recently starts with marathon practice- running laps of the school oval. They are asked to do between two and ten. Meg always does ten. Then she either walks an hour and a half home (uphill so it takes longer) or hangs out at after school care until 6:00. She is tired. Exhausted. Bruise coloured marks under her eyes and meltdown central.
That's ok. She can catch up on sleep on the weekend, right? No. The kid is hardwired to the dawn chorus. She wakes up earlier on the weekends. Seriously. I have a fair whack of bad working mummy guilt going on that's only partially alleviated by the fact that the little girl up the road -with a fulltime SAHM- is equally exhausted. Still, I'd love her to get a bit more sleep.
So it was a real surprise today in my 6 year old English class when we were using clocks to talk about our daily routine and every kid said they woke up at six. Some of these kids live within shouting distance of their elementary school. Many of them have non-working mothers. Why do they wake up so early? The unanimous answer- I don't know.
Actually there was one kid who doesn't wake up at six.
She wakes up at 4:30. I was sure she'd made a mistake. I made the hands on my clock show 4:30 and asked if that's what she meant. Yes. Wow. What do you do when you wake up? (Isn't that a shockingly intrusive question thinly disguised as English practise? But really. I was curious!) "I do my school homework. Then my other homework. Then I do some study with my mum. Then I get ready for school."
This girl is by far my strongest student. Japanese mother, Japanese father, no overseas experience but she has an amazing grasp of English. Her vocabulary knowledge is extraordinarily wide and varied and she has an ability to extrapolate her grammatical knowledge that is years beyond her peers. I know I shouldn't but I can't help comparing some days. Just last week Meg didn't know/ couldn't recall the word storm and she piped up with it then turned to Meg and said 'You don't know much English, do you?' Ouch! That one hit me where it hurts!
But you know, knowing that the price to pay for that knowledge is getting up at 4:30 every morning? I'm not so envious anymore. Living with Meg's attitude and disposition on her present schedule is hard enough, I think we would kill each other if we were getting up earlier and then trying to study during that time. Still it makes you think, huh?