It's 7:25 AM and I'm drinking my second cup of coffee, finally starting to wake up. Queen Teen caught the bus for school at 6:50 and is right now heading to her class after the first bell. To catch the bus on time, she has to get up at 5:15. 5:15! That means I have to get up at 5:10. 5:10 in the morning!!!!!!!!!!
Who the hell decided high school will start at 7:30?! Haven't they read the studies showing clear evidence that teens need more sleep and don't function well before 9 AM? Want to raise test scores? Stop trying to teach a teenager anything before 9 AM!
Maybe some kids can hop out of bed at 6:30 to make it to school on time, but we have to get up this early because it takes a long time to get Queen Teen ready for school. She wakes up slowly, eats breakfast while half asleep (who can eat at 5:30?), brushes her teeth and washes her face, then slowly gets dressed. Between her groggy movements and ataxia, achieving all of these tasks in an hour and a half can be challenging. Plus, I'm barely awake myself, so my organizational skills and patience are sluggish. By 6:45, Queen Teen is awake and dressed and standing by the front door watching for the bus. When it comes she announces excitedly, "Mom! The bus is here." I help her to the bus while the driver loads her wheelchair and then her walker. After buckling her in her seat, I give her a kiss goodbye on the cheek, then stand on the sidewalk to wave as the bus pulls away.
At 7:00 AM, Queen Teen is on her way to school, while I am fighting against the urge to go back to bed. My night owl body begs for more sleep, telling me I shouldn't be awake before 8, but I force her to stay away from bed and won't allow a nap on the couch. The day has started and I need to train my body to get used to getting up early in the morning, even though I know it's futile. I'll never get used to it, never feel alert before 8, but eventually I'll stop feeling like I'm hung-over and stupid.
Again, I ask, who decided school should start so early? Don't you know anything about teenagers? How do the teachers feel about getting up this early to teach grumpy, sleepy adolescents who barely pay attention when they're awake. Hasn't anything taught in the first two periods of school been negated by starting so early? And what about us poor parents who have to get these sleepy, grumpy, miserable teens out of bed and ready for school on time?
I know, I know... getting up this early helps parents who have to be at work by 8 (when I start my internship in three weeks I'll probably be happy, if sleepy). And I know teachers probably like getting off work earlier than later. And I also know districts are short on buses so the buses have to come early to pick up all those kids on one route. And I'm lucky there's a bus at all. But none of those supposedly good reasons mean Queen Teen and I have to like it. Nor does it mean that starting school this early is good for the kids.