I learned early on that the human heart has the capacity to love many people. I have often heard the mainstream argument that too many children means there is not enough love and attention to go around. Not so in my family. If anybody felt left out, it was only because they wouldn’t get their lazy carcass out of bed in time to get in on all the fun.
For some reason, most of us Jessop kids were night people. I have no idea why. Our father was a morning person. He wanted us up and busy in the mornings. “Mind over mattress, people!” he often said with a grin.
Most of us spent our childhood awake and alert and full of energy at nighttime. We often played hide and seek after dark. It was way more exciting tracking the enemy in the dark.
We were like the energizer bunny. We never stopped bouncing until we finally pinked out somewhere around one ‘o clock in the morning. The next morning invariably dawned sooner than unconsciousness expired, bringing with it the typical “drag meself out of bed” syndrome.
Father often said, “If you’re going to dance all night, you have to pay the fiddler.”
My brother Joe coined a famous line to illustrate the guilt battle of sluggish mornings. “Whenever I get up late,” he said wisely, “I feel like sneakin’ around the rest of the day. I hate that.”
One time I came up with a great idea. Father had called a work project the following morning. I was only too aware of my weakness of sleeping like the dead in the morning. I could not risk being absent for the project. I reasoned with my sister Becky that the only way to be absolutely sure we were up the next morning was to never go to bed. I talked her into joining me in staying awake. What an idea!
We raided the pantry that night for stay-awake snacks, and watched the hours slip by. We managed to stay awake until it was time to get up. Nothing short of dynamite could have awakened me after I finally succumbed to weariness.
Father was not impressed. Later that afternoon when I finally awoke and explained my motive behind my absence, he was still not impressed.
“What a solution, Maggie,” he chided. “Stay up all night so you can be up early the next morning? Now that’s not only un-smart. It’s downright dumb.”
I had to agree. I was famous that day for doing the dumbest thing ever. Sure seemed like a good idea at the time. I thought I was invincible. I had so much energy at night, I thought if I never put it to rest, I could keep going like the energizer bunny. Apparently not.
After the initial disappointment of my transgression wore off, Father often told the story as though he thought his kiddos were the funniest kids on the planet.
“I have GOT to be up tomorrow morning, so I’m going to STAY AWAKE all night!” he cried slapping his knee while the whole family, including me, laughed uproariously. “What an idea!” he exclaimed.
I learned early on that to stay alive in the fast lane, I had to be able to laugh at myself. There was no other way to get out of a predicament and get past embarrassment.
Father never let us kids stew in our juices too long. He brought things out into the open and helped us to face things squarely. He always forgave us for childish pranks.