I have not owned an alarm clock in seven years.
Yet, I have never overslept, been late for a morning appointment or work, or missed an early morning run.
I have three obvious reasons why that might be, named Sam, Peter, and Clementine. Peter has always, always, always been our earliest riser, and I can remember even now our time in Ballston clearly. Living in a small, two-bedroom corporate housing apartment, Peter would get up early--before the sun. He was tiny then. When we moved to Virginia, he was barely three months old, and we lived there until Peter was almost one-year old. He would wake, and I would go into his room and scoop him up out of his crib and usually carry him into the living room (though I also remember standing at the window in his room, too).
We had a view to what I think is the southwest, down Roosevelt Blvd., connecting Arlington to Falls Church. At the time, Falls Church was a foreign, far-off place, and we couldn't imagine that we would come to call it, too, home. At the time, it was a wooded place, shrouded in dark, shady trees, a place from which, that summer, dark storm clouds and thunder came. We had bad lightning storms that summer.
I would hold Peter at the window in he and Sam's room, or at the sliding glass door in the living room, and we would both look out the window. We would stand like that for what seemed like hours and may very well have been hours, waiting for the sky to lighten, for the black to give way to indigo, wait for the sun to come up and the sky to turn blue.
I whispered to him. We watched birds. I sang him songs in low voices, and we just stood like that every morning all summer and into the fall, waiting for mom and big brother to wake up.
Peter still gets up first.
Most days, I get up before him, quietly go downstairs to start the dishes left over from dinner the night before, make breakfast and Sam's school lunch.
Some mornings, I emerge from our room and Peter is already on the couch in the TV room, waiting for me. Sometimes, I am not sure if he is awake or if he has fallen back to sleep on the couch. On those mornings, he will follow me downstairs, but whether he is already awake or still asleep, he will emerge in the kitchen only a short time after me, his frizzy hair sticking from the top of his hair like the feathers of a peacock's fanned tail.
In Peter, we have our own rooster. But Peter doesn't crow or cock-a-doodle-do. As Nanny learned during her recent visit, our rooster sneezes. Once. Maybe twice. Every single morning.
When Peter sneezes that's when you know he is awake, the day has started, and it is time to get up. One little ah-choo.