Monday, February 25, 2008

My Ding Dong

My kids, especially the two ADHD boys, are night owls. If you know ADHD people, you know that an alarm clock just doesn’t do the job, and for the last 20 years, I’ve had to learn a thousand, million ways to wake them up and get them dressed, fed, medicated, cleaned up, and out the door for school.

I’ve tried hollering, banging on their bedroom doors with wooden spoons, metal pots, and my flat hand. I’ve bounced cheerfully on their beds until they’re queasy and roll out of bed before they barf. I’ve tried tickling, letting other family members tickle them, and I have sent dogs into their rooms to bark, whine, slobber, and frolic them awake. My favorite method involving the dogs has been to stand at the doorway with the dog nearby and throw bits of dog treats onto the sleeping night owl, so that the dog bounds energetically to and fro around on the sleeper. My oldest son still refers to this tactic as the “wet biscuit” method.

I’m kind of tired of finding ways to wake them up in a timely manner. My creative juices are not really flowing in that direction any more. I’ve managed to turn myself into the biggest lark in the house, getting up around 5 am, if not earlier, every day of the week, and I have no more patience for waking the comatose.

Well, over my hiatus, my husband was working on my mother-in-law’s First Alert clone alarm system. Since her husband died and she moved into a quad home area with other seniors, we all agreed that a pendant she could push for help would be a good thing. This one phones my husband’s cell phone first, and she can then speak or just keep mashing the button. If someone else is in the house, but maybe not right where they could see her, she can also push a button to make a heinously loud alarm sound from the main unit, and then the other person would have to find her and turn off the alarm from the pendant. Something went wrong with it, and my techie spouse brought it home to fiddle with. It did make an ear-splitting racket, no doubt about it.

He couldn’t seem to get it to dial the phone again, and in disgust said, “well, it would make a good alarm bell for in the house, I guess, but she really needs one that will dial out.” I nodded in agreement, and then called for Doodle to come and do one of his chores. He didn’t show up. I called again. Still no Doodle. I was cranky and got up to go find him and give him a good glaring-at, when a light bulb appeared over hubby’s head.

“Hey,” he said, “why don’t I put the alarm box in his room and give you the pendant? Then you can just press the button and not have to yell?” I looked at him with wonder. “Can you do that? He might unplug it,” I said. “I’ll hide it,” he replied, and he went off, sent the Doodle in my direction, and installed the alarm. We didn’t tell Doodle about it because we are sneaky, evil parents.

Later on, Doodle was sloughing off on another chore, and I opened my mouth to holler for him, spotted the pendant and pushed the alarm button. A sound like the spaceship from that “Klaatu-Barada-Nicktu” movie went off in his room, and he came dashing out of his room yelling, “HEY! WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?” I pushed the “off” button, which generates a two tone sound like the elevator in a posh department store, and said, “It’s my Doodle Call. I don’t have to yell for you any more,” and a wide, wide grin spread across my face.

“Holy Crap,” said Doodle, “well, what do you need me for?” “Dish chore,” I replied, and went back to the living room enveloped in a feeling of bliss I haven’t experienced since my last encounter with a chocolate-raspberry truffle.

The next day, my daughter decided to ignore me when I called for her, and I wound up banging on her door after the third call, opening it up, and finding her in front of her computer with a pair of headphones on, be-bopping to heaven only knows what. “Hey,” I said, “Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

“Well, kind of,” she replied, “but I was really enjoying this song.”

“Why didn’t you just say so? I could have waited,” I said.

“Ummmm,” was her response.

“Ah, I see,” I said.

That evening, I asked my husband if he could find another buzzer and put it in her room. I asked that it be loud enough to be heard through headphones and rock music. “No problem,” he said, “I love home improvement stuff,” and he winked at me and headed off to the hardware store.

When he came back, he had a remote doorbell, which generates a different, tinny kind of two-tone chime, and he snuck into her room when she wasn’t looking and installed it. He came back into the living room, and we grinned evilly at one another. “Need her to do anything?” I asked. He thought for a minute. “I’ll bet the dogs are in need of food and water,” he said. “I’m on it,” I replied, and pushed the bell. “HEY!” we heard, “NOT ME, TOO!” and she came into the living room looking very cranky and said, “WHAT?!” in that very special way teenaged girls have.

Hubs said, “I think your poor puppies are hungry and thirsty. Please feed and water them,” and he smiled innocently at her. “Oh, GOD,” she said and stumped off, grumbling the entire time she was filling their bowls.

“Two down,” I said, looking at hubby and quirking an eyebrow, “do we dare go for a three-fer? It’ll have to be the loudest one made, Spot sleeps pretty deeply.”

“I can do that,” replied hubs, “I love a challenge.”

He had to hit three hardware stores before finding an alarm just a few decibels below the “illegal noise level” range. It’s been hard-wired into Spot’s room. I have a little key chain now, with four alarm buttons on it (we decided not to let them hide in the basement, pretending they couldn’t hear any alarms). Each one gives a different tone, and I can choose among eight different tunes for the one in the basement.

I don’t have to yell anymore at all. I just gently push a button and wait. If no one shows up, I push it again, and again, and again. Someone always shows up. They may not be happy, but they are all getting to school on time, and I don’t have to yell until I’m cranky, or get up from whatever else I’m doing to hunt them down to remind them of chores.

I don’t think I’ve been this happy since I first discovered orgasms.


Knitnik said...

OMG - I love it! I so need to do this!

Amber in Albuquerque said...

Oh man! And Jamie and I thought we were evil. Clearly we have a lot to learn. Quite possibly the best use of technology...ever.

I'm going back to read it again.

cliopatra said...

Awesome! I would have hated it if my parents did that to me, but I can see how it would be very effective.