Monday, June 11, 2007


“Not yet, not YET!” he yells as I see his jammied body whiz by on the way from his bedroom to the bathroom, quickly passing by my office. My computer screen tells me it’s 6:15 AM. I take my first deep, cleansing breath of the day.

The lid of the toilet bangs, indicating it is up, and so is he. Another day has begun, officially.

The toilet lid bangs back down, he flushes, jabs his fingers under the running water to pacify me, then runs the four feet back to his bedroom, grabbing the blue and red car-shaped pillow off his bed.

“There,” he says as the pillow lands on the floor next to my writing desk. “NOW you can wake me up! You cannot wake me up until I pee. I have peed, so now you can wake me up! Come and wake me up, Mom! Come and wake me up!”

I pick up the car pillow, take another big breath, and walk next door to his room.


The red, white and blue of his quilt covers the mound that is him. Fake snores come from the wiggling mass. I crawl next to him on the bottom bunk, lift the quilt from his face, and cover my nose and mouth with both hands.

“The breath! The breath! Not the breath!”

“Haaaaaaaaa” he exaggeratedly exhales.

“The breath! You’re killing me with the breath!” This time I pretend to gag.

Eyes crusty with allergies, sandy blond hair poking up from the crew cut, pushed askew from all the positions his body has been in on the bed since 8:30 last night. He sneezes twice, wiping his nose and eyes along the blue sleeve of his pajama top, leaving a white, shiny trail behind.

“Zero, blast off, one more time!” he informs me.

I put the bad breath joke through its paces until after “one more time” I lie writhing next to him, having all but died from the halitosis. He laughs so hard there is no sound. He cannot recover from laughing long enough to draw air.

“OK, OK! I am awake! Watch me get ready! Watch me put on my socks! Watch me go downstairs! Mom! Are you watching me? Don’t forget to keep watching me!”

To the stairs we go, he with the NBA pajamas, size eight on his nearly eleven year old body, the waistband still too loose and landing south of its designated part of the body.

I have on any combination of pajama bottoms and t-shirt. Different mornings, different combinations, but all mornings blur into one. My love mug in my right hand accompanies me through the rigors of our routine.

“Wait! I need to bring Sam! Sam? Where are you, Sam? Are you awake, Sam? It is time to go downstairs and have breakfast, Sam!”

Having found the pink Build-A-Bear named Sam, he is ready for the next phase of the morning routine.

“Stand behind me on the stairs, Mom. Do not go ahead of me. Wait for me, Mom. I will go down and you will follow me on the stairs. Do not go ahead of me, Mom. Wait for me.”

He sits on his bottom at the top of the stairs.

“You stand on that stair, Mom. I will go down and you will go down, but you cannot go down until I go down, OK, Mom? You will wait for me to go down, OK?”

As we descend the twelve wooden stairs together, he on his bottom, scooting down excruciatingly slowly, me impatiently standing behind him, he continues with the routine.

“Is your body awake yet, Mom?”

“Not yet, Love, not yet. My body is not all the way awake yet.”

“But you have your coffee! Why is your body not awake if you have your coffee?”

“The coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, Love.”

“When will your body be awake Mom? Will it be awake at 6:30 AM PST? Will it be awake at 9:45 AM EST? What time will your body be awake?

“It will be awake at 7:55 AM”

“But that is when I will go to school, Mom! How come your body will wake up after I go to school? Will your body wake up before I go to school? I want your body to wake up before I go to school! I want your body to wake up at 10:00 AM EST. Promise your body will wake up at 10:00 AM EST? “

“OK, I promise.”

Finally having reached the main floor, we walk together into the kitchen.

“Yea, Mom! Who is the best mom? I am so happy your body will be awake at 10:00 AM EST. Thank you for following directions, Mom! You are good at following directions, Mom! I am going to give you a star. Can I give you a star, Mom?"

Already standing before the art supplies, both cupboards flung open with a thud, knobs dinging the adjacent doors, paper pulled from the bottom of the stack, at least 20 extra pieces other than the one intended landing on the floor, he grabs a red one, his favorite color.

The 9 1/2” x 11” piece of paper soon filled with a single “A+”. The A more of an upside down V, the crossing horizontal line so high and so tiny, it hardly constitutes an A. The + sign larger than the A. There is no more room on the paper for any more commentary. His hands have done their best to indicate what his brain is telling them. This is his best.


Ziji Wangmo said...

Carrie - I think you woke up before 7:55, because you posted this at 7:43 - and you must be "AWAKE" most of the time -if not all of the time -in order for you to get an A plus. Kids know when adults are checked out - you, my firend, just got a big hug on a red sheet of paper.

Jerri said...

And this post tells the story of your best, most loving, most patient mothering.

Say it with me now, "Not a mark on 'em."

Impossible. Amazing. Carrie.

Anonymous said...

...and the A+ goes to Rojo!

Kim said...

This is fantastic writing, and you both are fantastic too! I was absolutely right there with you. Take two more A+'s at 3:15PM EST--one for your writing, and one for being one of the best moms ever.

Another OCD Boy said...

Got to love him... Take an A+

Jess said...

Great story, great kid, great writing.

The question is, how do you define the exact moment when your body wakes up? :)

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this post today. Your writing captures perfectly the importance and safety of Rojo's routine and a beautiful, wonderfu caring mom who truly gets him. You do deserve a an A plus Carrie and I am glad it was big and red. Rojo knows exactly what he is doing and is expressing his love for you in such a sweet, pure Rojo way. You my friend, are amazing both in your spirit, your mothering and your writing.

Michelle O'Neil said...

I love Rojo "all the time" but if I were in your shoes, I'd be adding a shot of liquor to that coffee.

Maybe two.

jennifer said...

YES! Exactly! Just report. Just report what is. Keep it slow. You've got it. Now, go take care of yourself the way you take care of yourself, be gentle, this is HFW! That's all I'm saying!

Deb said...

You are amazing! And so is your writing. My ears are ringing and I wasn't even there. Add a gold star to your A+.

Sue said...

You have the patience of a saint ... and should have pursued an acting career, I think.

Love Rojo's morning routine! (Is this what it's like every morning?)

I'm with Michelle. Make mine coffee with Bailey's.


Suzy said...

"....This is his best."

Rojo is the BEST!

Nancy said...

Pulsing with patience and love. I could see the whole thing!

kario said...





Sue said...

You can come wake up my kids any time.

grammer said...

fantastic, carrie ... love the pace of this, especially. you are such a wonder! xo t