Somehow, I’m in a band. Haven’t played bass in over 20 years, but here it is. All originals. Amusing lyrics. Loose rock’n’roll, though that term sounds so dated. And yesterday we recorded seven songs in two hours, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We recorded fast, loose, and fun. We came back to my place to burn copies and listen to the play back; rock stars indulging in depraved combo drinks of lemonade iced teas.
And our playback woke up one of my sons. At 1:45 p.m. That’s right, 1:45 in the afternoon, and this guy was still sleeping. The “rock stars for the day” found it hilarious that this 16-year-old out rock starred us from the get go. He had slept through a good chunk of the day, enough of it for a collection of adults ranging in age from 27 to 50 to record seven songs for dubious posterity, and arguably would have kept sleeping if it hadn’t been for us blasting our three chord party favors. The band were thoroughly amused at my son’s expense.
And amidst the band teasing my son’s lifestyle, I found myself wrestling with whether I had failed as a father. My mother had been one of those parents who believed it a mortal sin to sleep past 9 a.m. My wife’s parents believed the same, like most of that generation. We both rebelled against that, not wanting to be “those parents” … But 1:45? Really? Have we let it go too far?
We decided to let the kids sleep until they woke up years ago, but is it possible to abuse that privilege? Seeing my son mocked by momentary rock stars drove home the point that sometimes too much is just too damn much.
Doctors and scientists say teens need more sleep. Okay, great. But when the teen isn’t even trying to sleep until 1 a.m. or later, is that really getting more sleep? And yes, the X-Box generation hangs out together via headphones and virtual video game rooms, but what is happening in those rooms at 1 a.m. that is so vital to positive personal growth? Does staying up that late really provide such vital street cred? And what does it say about a teen’s self-perception if that is how he defines himself?
An argument can be made that parents should be helping to build each of their children into solid citizens. I do not believe in the 9 a.m. wake ups and bed making and hospital corners required by my parents, but neither do I support a decadent lifestyle. My sons are good people; they don’t drink, don’t smoke or do drugs, they help around the house when coerced, and are generally respectful individuals. They are solid citizens. So when do these vampire hours become an issue?
To his credit, my son read the situation and reacted, asking my wife to make sure he doesn’t sleep that late any more. Whether or not he should be relying on Mom for this as he enters senior year of high school is another issue, but for now, I’ll take any step in the right direction as progress. His progress.
But how about mine as a parent?
Christopher Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.