Curtis has a sleeping problem. Well, actually, he has a waking up problem. When I first met him, he worked the evening shift-- working at night, sleeping all day. This schedule was not conducive to family life, so he dutifully switched to the day shift, which should be called the diabolically-early shift because he has to be on the job at 5 a.m. It hasn't been easy for him.

Curtis' morning routine consists of sleeping as long as possible, then getting dressed and out the door in about 5 minutes. It's impressive, really. This well choreographed process begins at 4 a.m. and ends at about 4:35. His alarm clock is set 20 minutes fast. I'm not sure why. He is skilled at doing math in his sleep and calculates the time difference with ease. The alarm is set to "radio" and the volume is set to a level beyond what any sane person would listen to... EVER. In fact, it is so loud that it's difficult to discern exactly what you're hearing-- something between static and the largest trash-can band you can imagine. It's alarmageddon... and that's just the beginning. There is also a delicate balance between snooze time and jarring arrousals. He hits the snooze button a minimum of three times before actually getting out of bed and, even then, I don't think he is technically awake. Each morning I get the crap scared out of me at least three times every nine minutes.

Of course, being the wife and woman that I am, when I first became an innocent bystander to this horrible ritual I was convinced there had to be a better way. I searched online for the ultimate alarm clock (did you know that there are alarm-clocks that come with bed shakers?) My two requirements were it had to have magnum-force wake-up power, and NO snooze button.  I reasoned: if you wake-up right the first time, you shouldn't have to wake-up again. But that was morning-person logic and I obviously didn't understand the importance of the "snooze dance." The new clock was certainly loud (it sounded like someone set off the alarm on an emergency exit door), but he would wake up just enough to turn it off, then he would be back to sleep and, inevitably, late for work. Sometimes I would find him up on one elbow staring at the alarm as it blared it's fire-alarm bell. His head would be cocked a little bit, like a curious puppy, trying to figure out what it was that was making that odd noise. Of course, I am wide awake at the first knock of the hammer against the bell, thinking: What are you looking at? IT'S YOUR DAMN ALARM! Whacking him on the back, I'd yell, "TURN IT OFF!"

We tried everything, including putting the clock on the other side of the room, but all that did was make it take longer to turn the thing off. He'd sleep-walk from the bed to the alarm and back, never even approaching consciousness.  He's got some sort of built-in "sleep protection system" that automatically kicks-in when pesky people try to wake him up. On the occasions when I have to manually wake him, I must go through my own simulated alarm-snooze-cycle.  In order to be effective, I must stand right next to him when I yell and  then wait for a somewhat coherent response. Sometimes he will try to trick me by saying, "I heard you" or "I am awake" in a stop-bugging-me-you-annoying-woman tone of voice. Other times, his attempts to convince me he's awake are more conspicuous. For instance, the other day I took the boys to the park while Curtis took a nap. By the time we returned, I was in desperate need of a break from the chaos of managing two hungry, whiny boys. I went into the bedroom and yelled "You better get up. Mama's on the edge." Curtis replied, "You are? Did you make me a hamburger?" I didn't know whether to be amused or supremely annoyed.

Obviously, waking up for Curtis is a slow and painful process, which must be fully experienced in order to be effective. As a morning-person, I may never understand this phenomenon, but I've learned to accept it. It's just the way it is.