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Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Boy was that a long day yesterday! Inevitably it was a long today too after so brief a nap between bedtime and the morning alarm. No one ever fixed me when I was a kid and I am just a 42-year-old kid now.
I remember not wanting to go to sleep when I was little. Normal, you say? Kids always want to stay up even though they are tired. But I remember WHY I didn’t want to go to sleep. When Tori and Rina were little, that was invaluable information!
You see, I remember that I was worried that something big would happen. I thought something really important would happen and I’d miss it. I didn’t want to miss something important. I would get sent to bed when company was over, or worse, put in the spare bedroom to sleep when we were at Noni’s house! I would lie there, fighting sleep, trying to listen, to know what was going on. I didn’t want to miss any of it.
Remembering that was important. Not that I did it, but remembering why. When Tori and Rina didn’t want to go to sleep, when they said “but I’m not tired yet. I don’t want to go to bed.” (with baggy, watery eyes and a yawn) I said “You guys are afraid you’ll miss something, aren’t you?” They were amazed that I knew, that I understood. I told them, “I promise that if there is anything important, anything too fun to miss, I’ll wake you up so you can see it, okay?”
They were okay with that. I think they trusted me because I understood. They trusted me even more, when I came in one night and woke them both up because there was a west coast premier of a cartoon they liked on the Cartoon Network. Can you believe that at 11:00, when they’d already had 2 hours sleep, they did NOT want to wake up to see a PREMIER cartoon?
When we talked about it the next morning at breakfast, they vaguely remembered me waking them up for the cartoon. Even though they didn’t want to get up for it, they really thanked me quite sincerely for waking them. I’d kept my promise and they knew that when it was bedtime, Nana would make sure they didn’t miss anything. They had nothing to worry about. I never got the “but I’m not tired” at bedtime again! And, no, I never woke them up from a sound sleep to see a cartoon again, either. Didn’t have to!
But no one ever applied that psychology to me when I was a kid. I would fight sleep for no good reason. I slept in late and then when I started school, I was cranky when I woke up. Sometimes I was even tired in school. I went to bed on time, I just fought sleep like it was trying to steal chocolate from me! So I never learned to trust that the world would still be there in the morning. I never learned to trust that someone would tell me right away when I woke up what I missed while I was sleeping.
So now I’m an adult. On election night, I KNOW what the other adults are talking about on TV. Whether I was working in the media or not, they have always been late nights. There have always been candidates I supported, issues and proposals whose outcomes were important and I didn’t want to wake up not knowing yet. I wanted to be there for the moment. When the new mayor or governor, senator or the president was announced. I didn’t want to read it in the morning paper and I didn’t want to hear it after the fact on the news, I wanted to be there in the moment. I wanted to hear the acceptance and concession speeches, I wanted to see the challenger shake the victorious incumbent's hand. I wanted to see the representative who’d be stepping down make that call to her opponent. I wanted to see the red or blue number the moment it passed 270.
I am always tired the day after Election Day, every year. Living in the moment, being part of that moment, has always been more important than sleep to me. Tuesday, David and I opened the polls at 6:30AM. It was a full day to say the very least! Then he was at work. I was already tired, but there was a moment to be savored. Regardless of the outcome, the turnout was in record numbers for the election. The process that makes our great country simply the best one for me, was happening again and this time, as if sprinkled with dust from the anti-apathy fairy, people cared about what was happening. I gave me extra pride goose bumps.
I always get goose bumps on election night. When our work is done and the people whose job it is to do the administration work find out what our decision is. It’s just knowing that I am an important part of something so huge it takes hours and hours to account for it. Yeah, I don’t want to miss that!
This year, the moment was even more special, something historic to savor. We elected the first African American, the first minority President to lead the Untied States of America. I was there, glued to the screen, feeling my heart leap a little when they broke from everything they were spinning on TV to make the announcement. Yes, I shed a few tears. Hey, I’m a woman, I’m a minority too. We have arrived.
It was a moment. This one was a monumental moment and there was no way I was going to miss it sleeping. My inner child understands. She’s not cranky about not sleeping. She figures she’ll be president some day too. Thanks to that moment, that’s now something more than "cute" to hear from EVERY child in this country.
And now my inner child and I are going to sleep!