How To Wake A Child

Children are human, which means they have at least five senses and don’t like to be bossed about. Wake them with the gentleness and respect you wish them to exhibit as adults. You are about to disillusion them from cuddled dreamscapes into a waking life of oatmeal and active shooter drills; give them a moment to grieve the loss of night and anticipate the possibilities of day.

Wake the senses

  1. Enter the room quietly.
  2. Crack the blinds to let in the morning light—enough to bring a curiosity of shape and color to the world but not so much their eyes squeeze tight against it.
  3. If weather and location coöperate, open the window to let in the sounds of morning.
  4. If you use oils or aromatics, diffuse a citrus scent.
  5. Make the air comfortable. If they fell asleep with a fan but now it’s a chilly morning, turn it off. Children aren’t ascetics, they don’t grow to know God through discomfort. Create an environment they want to rise into instead of burrow away from.
  6. Leave the room and go about your day. Grind your coffee, sizzle your bacon, walk sure-footed down the hall. Don’t be an obnoxious roommate, but add your patina to the waking world. Their room is still a sanctuary, but the world is turning without them. Waking is an opportunity—not an edict—to join it.

Sometimes, this is all you need to do. Within minutes, they come trundling out of the room, book and blanket in hand. These are the best days, but they aren’t the most days.

Wake the mind

  1. After no less than 15 minutes, quietly re-enter the room.
  2. Sit by them on the bed. If they’re not yet too old to hate it, stroke their forehead or curl up next to them. A minute or two of your silent physical presence will engage their mind in ways you don’t see.
  3. Finally, quietly greet them with the first words anyone should hear: “Good morning, love.”

Lastly, remember

You, too, are a human in process and should wake gently. Work with the grain: make your room dark at night; sleep with a window cracked so the sounds of morning precede you; leave your phone outside your room; use a dedicated alarm clock with dim illumination.

The oncoming day is hard but boundless. Prepare accordingly.