School has started and my kids have become pod people

Honey, I don't think the kids' alarms were set for school...
“Hey, Honey? I don’t think the kids’ alarms went off for school!”
Now that school is back in session, we have settled into our normal routine here at the Hickson household. This routine is based on a strict time schedule that my wife and I have developed over the years to ensure that, each morning at precisely 7 a.m., all hell breaks loose. This includes — but isn’t limited to — at least one person (or family pet) running through the house in boxer shorts, and my daughter locking the bathroom door for some “quiet time” while heating a Pop-Tart with her hair dryer.

Though we know this pandemonium could be avoided by just getting up a little earlier, the fact is, my wife and I are the only morning people in our family. As anyone in this situation already knows, this is sort of like being the only lambs at a coyote picnic.

In order to stay alive, you must keep moving while, at the same time, drawing as little attention to yourself as possible. What makes this especially difficult is that, from time to time, we find it necessary to actually speak. Usually, we’re just trying to determine our teenagers’ progress by way of a simple question, such as: Why is the dog wearing cowboy boots?

That’s when all eyes suddenly turn to us.

And these are not happy eyes.


These are the eyes of pod people.

They are hungry. They are confused. And they know we are not one of them.

"Slip out of your pods and get ready for school!"
“Slip out of your pods and get ready for school!”

Fortunately, this is about the time the core temperature of our daughter’s strawberry Pop-Tart reaches its flash point, causing it to burst into flames and, consequently, be dropped into the commode. The dog, familiar with this routine, then races across the living room in his cowboy boots and runs headfirst into the bathroom door, which my daughter — also familiar with this routine — has locked again.

Given that I have nothing to compare it to, I have no idea whether our morning routine is considered “normal” by most standards. However, after looking through some self-help books and trying to pick up some tips, I came to the conclusion that, for the most part, these authors are single. I know this because of suggestions like:

Set aside some quiet time each morning for you and your children to talk about your goals for the day. This will help your whole family begin each morning with a clear direction!

Better yet, why not provide each reader with clear directions to your home so they can set aside time to come over and whack you with this book?

The only author who seemed to have a handle on things AND be an actual (living) parent was a retired lawyer who lived in a small town in West Virginia with her husband of 24 years, four children — oh, and a full-time English nanny. Of course, there was nothing in her book suggesting that, if we couldn’t afford a nanny, one would be appointed to us.

What this means is that we’ll stick with the routine we already have.

At least until the dog stops wearing cowboy boots.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

29 thoughts on “School has started and my kids have become pod people”

  1. My youngest two are in a virtual academy and I tutor them, but I just had the last of three kids in the public schools graduate from high school last spring.

    The mornings for the last several years with their brothers? Worse than a Monty Python’esque race because there was a bus to catch, breakfast to make that they often left on the kitchen counter because they lollygagged in the bathroom, pounding on the bathroom door to get their turn to lollygag and preen, lunches forgotten that had to be delivered later, papers to sign, concerts and events to be given last day notice of, missing shoes and backpacks that they never noticed were gone until it was time to catch the bus, money for school fees grabbed, and the last second grunting messages of not coming home on the bus and needing a ride later because of ‘something’.

    My school mornings now start quietly with either daughter on a computer on each side of me. They sip tea, I sip coffee and read your blog and solve world peace at my computer. We play peaceful music while we solve variable expressions.

    It was really good to laugh at the chaos that I don’t miss! You can hate me for the minutes it takes to get your kids out the door tomorrow ;P

  2. Invasion of the body snatchers is one of the scariest movies I know (well, maybe because I first saw it as a small child). I’m sorry you feel like Donald Sutherland every morning. You may want to consider not sleeping anymore. That seemed to help for Donald Sutherland, at least for a good deal of the movie;)

  3. Ha! I love the words of wisdom and helpful parenting advice to be found in books. I kid you not, I once had a live chicken in my kitchen next to the coffee pot, clucking away, and I simply ignored it as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Seems like somebody fed the chickens without shutting the chicken coup or the back door or even noticing that an entire flock of chickens had followed them back into the house. That’s how bad the morning chaos is where I live. A sasquatch could run through the house and nobody would even notice.

  4. My biggest obstacle to sanity on school mornings (or the night before, for that matter), is trying to get my one child to get out the door to go to school. He’s already stressing out about the first day (tomorrow), to the point that I’d like to run away and join the circus. At least that would be easier to deal with. His anxiety attacks suck. After reading your post, it now makes perfect sense to me why my brothers and I grew up having breakfasts of toast and cold cereal, and that we bought lunch at school (or made it ourselves). Much easier on mom. And if we missed the bus, we had to get ourselves to school. However, I don’t remember any mornings when our dog wore cowboy boots.

    1. One of our four kids has Aspergers (I think I mentioned that to you before) and his anxiety used to start in mid August. It’s gotten much, much better as he’s gotten older. Now I’m the one with the anxiety… also as I’ve gotten older 😉

  5. This sounds about right, but you forgot the part where one of the teenagers tells you, 2 seconds before they have to be at school, that they need $20, or a permission slip signed, or that next Monday, when you took the day off to be at home alone- there is no school because of a teacher inservice. Ahh, the joys of raising teenagers. Oh, did I mention that no one can ever find their shoes (even though they own a billion pair)?

  6. Your mornings sound very similar to ours with the running around, barking orders and begging for food. Oh wait, that’s just the dog and she prefers heels to cowboy boots.

    My son and I are both morning people and my retired husband is not. Nothing makes me happier than when he emerges from the bedroom long after the chaos is done and asks what I’ve been doing all morning. Good thing he’s cute.

    Best wishes as your kiddos go back to school (*gulp…one newbie to high school, right?) The comfort could be that your non-morning kids will someday be parents of pod people 🙂

    1. Haha! I’m so thankful I married a morning person. I’d say it makes us like The Wonder Twins of mornings, but that would mean I have the hots for my sister, which would be creepy. I do have to say it makes that first cup of coffee together before the kids emerge (and it IS more like emerging than waking up) something to look forward to.

      And yes, we have a sophomore and a freshman. Next year we’ll have three in HS. My wife and I may just get our own place and just show up for sports and school conferences 😉

  7. Oh that had me burst out laughing “set aside some quiet time”. Yeah right. Those authors have not had children. Thankfully mine are much older, two are now away at college and university after hubby and I drove over 2000 kilometres this past weekend to get rid of them. Oh the joys of higher education.

  8. Ha ha ha, that was a much appreciated laugh this morning, even though we are not back in school yet because of a strike/lockout situation. Although, I’m thinking the people directly involved in that strike/lockout are also pod people… 14 years of the same looks of hunger, fatigue and confusion. What was the cure again?

    1. If I was still in school, I would’ve been inciting a strike/lockout every September!

      And that cure for pod people? Bacon.
      Bacon makes everything better.
      Sugar cured bacon, of course… 😉

  9. We’re done with school!

    Oh wait…college. But dad gets to deal with that, bwahahahha!

    Now I suddenly need to see “Don’t Look Now” again.

      1. It was on Netflix…at least I hope it still is, gotta start gearing up for my October classic horror/suspense schlockfest.

        1. Absolutely! My brother-in-law just sent us three DVDs with at least 6 “classic” horror pix on it — everything from “The Devil Bat” with Bela Lugosi to “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” with George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino. My wife are planning a weekend horror marathon soon! I might throw in Justin Bieber’s “Believe” just to make it truly horrifying…

  10. I’m really not a morning person either. We have zero people in our house who are morning people. I’m not sure if it’s better or not that we’re all equally miserable. Why is your dog wearing cowboy boots and does he ever get to the Pop Tart? If it was frosted, he would find a way.

    1. It’s definitely better being a non-morning person around other non-morning people. If there was someone who wasn’t, they would be like the person who stumbles into a room of zombies on The Walking Dead; The only one who benefits in that scenario are the zombies.

      As for our dog, I think he slides off the bed and into the boots front-feet first. If I can get him to wear boots on his back feet too, then I might have a shot at being on Jimmy Fallon…

  11. Father-of-the-century,
    (Seriously. You’ve earned it, buddy.)

    Let the games begin!!!
    Good luck, Ned… you poor bastard.

    Your pal and eternal jackass,
    The Hook.

    1. Lol! I couldn’t do it without being married to Mother-of-the-Century.

      So yeah, BRING IT, KIDS! *takes sumo stance*

      (By the way, pal, if it doesn’t work out, I’m sending them to your house.)

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