I’m just going to complain about my alarm clock.

Our alarm clock finally just went fatally berzerk.  It already had some issues, but yesterday it started advancing a minute for every actual second that passes.  This is a disconcerting but accurate depiction of the way our summer is going.  Happily, it gives me an excuse to buy a new clock.

I hate this clock.  Someone gave it to us, back when we got caught in the wrong end of a current of well-meaning charity from a group of elderly church ladies.  They saw we had a lot of kids, and drew the only obvious conclusion:  that I would be overjoyed to receive large quantities of random junk they didn’t want in their garages anymore.

I gave away most of it, but we kept the clock, because — well, because we had a lot of kids, and couldn’t afford a clock on our own.  (Even a charitable old church lady is right twice a day.)

Does anyone else have such trouble with alarm clocks?  I really don’t ask a lot out of technology, but it seems to me that it shouldn’t be so hard to find a clock which will reliably (a) show the time and (b) go off when I tell it to.

Our clocks do this for a month or so.  Then they don’t.  Maybe!   The main problem is that, when an alarm clock goes bad, you only become aware of the problem when you’re half asleep.   It’s sort of like going to the doctor, and by the time he finally shows up, you’ve so nervous and tense, you actually do have high blood pressure:  You just can’t make an accurate diagnosis in conditions like this.

You set the alarm for 7 a.m. and drift off to sleep.  A few hours later, you’re right in the middle of a sweet and gentle dream about being a nice little fish that makes cookies, and YAAAAAAAAAA!  the alarm goes off, and it’s only  2:30.

What?  What?  Did you set the alarm wrong?  Or is the clock broken?  And if you’re the one who made the mistake, did you actually fix it?  Wait, did you press the button at the right time?  Oh, you went past 7– now you have to go all the way around again!  Is that dot for a.m. or p.m.?  Do you dare to fall back asleep and trust that  will wake up at 7?  Or would it be more fun to crouch on your bed like a feral cat, unable to slow your heart rate back to normal?   Until it’s 6:15, at which point you finally lose consciousness, and sleep through the alarm.  

Or did you just dream the whole thing?

This particular terrible clock had some kind of fancy system with two different alarms, each with a choice of different sound effects, and it was nearly impossible to figure out which one you had actually set.  Especially after some kid ripped the plastic face off, which meant that the various lights signifying “am,” “pm,” alarm 1″ and “alarm 2” were nothing more than bald, unlabeled dots, signifying, “I mean something, and I’m on!”

The only work-around was to set both alarms for the same time.  So you would wake up in the morning, turn off the alarm, start to get up and think about what you–DAMMIT, turn off the alarm again.

Or, if you’re my husband, you get up and turn it off in your sleep and lay yourself  peacefully down again.

Now, according to everything that is rational, and everything that I know about this man, he does this because he’s a heavy sleeper.  It’s unintentional, unfixable, and actually kind of cute.

But according to everything I know when I get woken up by his alarm and must lie there poking him until he grumpily rolls out of bed and I’m too annoyed to go back to sleep, even though I had only truly fallen sleep two hours ago because I had just accomplished several pre-dawn hours of worrying about school clothes, he does this because . . . well, let’s just stick with unintentional.

Anyway, what this all goes to show is that we are in big trouble this coming school year, with actual schedules and all.    Why did we home school all those years?  Why did my husband get into journalism?  Well, the secret’s out now!  We’ve arranged our lives around not getting up  in the morning.

Sure, so there was a dash of planning, a smattering of the determined pursuit of our desires and the cultivation of our talents.  Maybe a whisper of answering our divinely-ordained vocations in life.

But mostly, we are where we are because we can’t figure out our alarm clock.



  1. SIMCHA. Only you could make observations about an ALARM CLOCK so giggleicious.

    “Or did you just dream the whole thing?” and “DAMMIT!” when the alarm goes off again AND the husband who just gets up, turns it off, and goes back to sleep – yes, yes, yes.

    Thanks for starting my week off wonderfully.

  2. I am a deep sleeper who (honestly!) can’t help it, and while I worked in a bakery my poor husband spent many a 3am shaking me awake. Bakery hours were really, really not for me.

    For us, moving to regular school ended up being good, because I am *that* bad at waking up in the morning. If we didn’t have anything we absolutely had to do, the chances were good that I would fall back asleep on the couch while the girls watched Dora the Explorer for hours on end. Now I have an early riser for a firstborn, who wakes me up reliably an hour and a half before we have to leave for school. I literally never touch the alarm clock!

  3. I have a Timex wristwatch with multiple alarms. It gets misplaced from time to time when it goes off in the wee hours of the morning, I continue to sleep, and my wife buries it in the sock drawer.

  4. I haven’t owned an alarm clock for years now. Jo uses his watch and I use my phone for such purposes. No wonder I never have anything interesting to write about!

    • We home schooled exclusively for five years; then, last year, we had two in home school and two in private school. This coming year, we’ll have four in charter school, one in home school, and 3 too young for school. Maybe I should write a post about why! It’s nothing thrilling, really, though.

      • I’m curious anyway, even if it’s not thrilling reasons, since I am myself just embarking (experimenting?) with homeschooling. (Therefore the topic is of quite disproportionate interest to me). 🙂

  5. My husband is on the verge of a new career and so he dug out an old alarm clock, that has elephants trumpeting as the alarm. I’m not kidding you. On a related note, one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, the one where the marathon runner missed his Olympic race because of a faulty alarm. The fault not the am/pm, the volume.

  6. My best friend in college was one of those super deep sleepers. I still remember one morning when I woke from a deep sleep to her next-door neighbor pounding on her door to try to make her shut off her alarm. (Um… if the alarm that woke you up isn’t doing the trick, why do you think pounding is going to work?) I had to get up, let myself into her room and drag her out of bed. Mind you I lived about five doors down and across the hall. I’m one of those light sleepers. I wake up if there’s a sliver of light sneaking in from somewhere or if someone is breathing too loudly.

  7. Reason 201 I homeschool: So that I can sleep late. 😉

    The fancier the alarm clock the more likely it will not be set right. In college my favorite alarm clocks were really cheap battery powered ones from Wal-mart/Target with the indi-glow light. They had one volume that wasn’t excessively loud (loud alarms scare me awake) and their only function was as an alarm. They would last about a year and half to two years before the snooze/glow button would die.

  8. I have a perfectly lovely little four-year-old alarm clock who climbs in bed with me every morning at precisely 6:45 and steals my blankets. I can ignore the electronic clock. The cold little feet I can’t ignore.

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