THE BLOG
08/05/2013 08:21 am ET | Updated Oct 05, 2013

How To Wake A Sleeping Teenager Without Starting WWIII

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When I hear parents of young children talk about how their kids wake them at the crack of dawn, and how they'd give anything for an extra hour of sleep, I empathize. Then I tell them not to wish it away too fast, because snuggly toddlers in the wee hours beat teen vampires any day of the week.

As little boys go, mine were pretty sweet in the morning, which certainly helped since I was often up late doing freelance work. Still, 6 a.m. came awfully early. To ease our way into the day, television shows like Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Arthur were my drugs of choice, along with my mother-in-law's video gifts of SpongeBob SquarePants and Yu-Gi-Oh! -- both shows I swore I'd never watch but ended up doing exactly that, laughing along with the boys. On the rare occasion that they overslept, I couldn't -- certain that there was something wrong, I'd sneak into their room to check to be sure they were still breathing.

Years passed. And as they did, the boys woke later and later, until, as children tend to do, they became teenagers, and the only part of the wake-up routine that was familiar was the checking-to-make-sure-they-were-breathing part.

Today, I'm a self-certified expert in How to Wake a Sleeping Teenager. Hundreds of hours have gone into my training. Here's what I've learned:

Don't Do This
  1. Buy multiple, creative alarms. They will tune them out and make them part of their dream sequences which they will tell you about in elaborate detail. Not even an alarm that sounds like a rooster, or one that recites lines from classic movies in ridiculous voices, or one that says wake up in progressively louder voices. I have tried them all.

  • Send in the dog. This will backfire because it will make them happy and when they are happy, they feel cozier, and when they are happy and cozy they go back to sleep because they want to keep dreaming.
  • Take away privileges. When you're frustrated, it's tempting to show who's boss. But the reality is that they're teens for seven years. And sometimes longer. Pretty soon they'll be muttering, okay, whatever. And you will be too.
  • Do This
    1. Piss them off. Believe me, this will be easy to do. Try coming into their room and raising the blinds, or turning on the light. Or cheerily saying, Good morning, sweetheart. Or better yet, if you're in a house with two levels, call their name from downstairs, which will sound like a yell because it is after the first few times you say it nicely.They will then sit up and yell back one of two things: WHAT? Which will piss you off because they know very well what, or I'M UP MOM! which they are not, because if they were, neither of you would be yelling. Word of warning here -- these methods are guaranteed to rouse them, but will also excite the bear in them and they will not be nice again until they have eaten.

  • Quietly open their bedroom door, head to the kitchen, and fry up some bacon. You won't have to say a word. Swear.
  • Text them. Why would they hear a text ding or feel its vibration if numerous alarms don't work? I have no idea. They are the next generation and they have been rewired -- trust me on this. But here's the thing...in your text, you have to offer to take them to Subway because it turns out vampire teens will wake for Subway.
  • If all else fails, bring out the big guns. Turn on the cartoons. They secretly miss them. And the chance to slow the world down and watch them with you.
  • Join me next Monday for another installment of The Pre-Empt Chronicles, as I transition from full house to empty nest.

    Earlier on Huff/Post50:

    What Do You Miss About Your Children Now That They're Adults?