This appeared 15 years ago (Oct. 1, 2002) in our local newspaper, The Athens Messenger. I was invited to be on the Board of Contributors–about two dozen community members who were asked to submit approximately four columns per year. The only payment was a free subscription to the newspaper. (Update: Our children are now grown and on their own, and our dog is now gone.)
Have you ever met anyone who is an “afternoon person”?
I have never met anyone who claims to be an “afternoon person.” Among people who get off work around 5:00 p.m., I don’t know a soul who finds afternoons the best part of the day. In fact, everyone I know employs an arsenal of survival techniques, such as vertical napping, to get through the afternoon. Afternoons are to workdays as potholes are to roads–gaps to get over.
People I know are either “morning persons” or “night persons.” These days, children as young as three know which they are: “I can’t go to bed now, Mommy. I’m at my peak for coloring inside the lines!”
People didn’t always label themselves by their optimal hours. When I was growing up, no one used the terms “morning person” or “night person.” We knew some “early birds” and “night owls,” but most people didn’t fall into either category. Both types were considered odd enough that we allowed them extra personal space (then called “a wide berth”).
I didn’t realize that I was a morning person until I was 29 and started working an 8:00-5:00 job. I found I woke up energized, needing only a cup of early daylight. Ten years later I needed a cup of coffee to achieve the same level of enthusiasm, but even today I can accomplish more between 6:00-8:00 a.m. than I can in all of the after-work hours put together.
Today, morning people marry night people, and the children must choose one camp or the other. Unfortunately for me, my wife and two children are night people. They think that the day is still young at 10:00 p.m. I can’t think that my clanking around in the kitchen at 6:00 a.m. on weekends is as irritating as their house-filling racket at 10:00 at night. The moon is a night light, not task lighting.
By 10:00 p.m. my cognitive day is over. Trying to hold thoughts in my head at that hour is like trying to float bowling balls. I have to keep repeating the mantra “Bathroom, then bed. Bathroom, then bed” to find the stairs and successfully retire for the night.
Night people don’t understand. Around 10:00 my son will ask me to double-check his 37 math problems, or my daughter will want me to read her 12-page paper. My wife, interpreting my glazed-over look as “needing something to do,” will bring up every important decision we need to make in the next 5 days and ask what I’ve decided. What part of “Bathroom, then bed” don’t they understand?
My only ally is our dog, who is a morning dog. She glazes over even before I do, and first thing in the morning she’s ready to “go.” Over time she has learned that even morning people can snarl before their first cup of coffee, so she patiently counts floor tiles until my cup runneth empty. Then she puts me on the end of a leash and takes me outside.
Copyright © 2002 by John Arthur Robinson