Solo: A Storch Wars Story
Things That Do Not Work, Part Two

Things That Do Not Work, Part One

Hello and welcome to the first installment of a series I just made up about things that Do Not Work in my home/life/general existence. 

You know what Does Not Work? This alarm clock Does Not Work.

Sonic boom clockThis is the Sonic Bomb Extra-Loud Dual Alarm Clock with Red Flashing Alert Lights and a Powerful Bed Shaker, which we bought for a certain 13 year old who needs to get his ass out of bed in the morning but who lo, does not get his ass out of bed in the morning. 

We tried several different alarms before this one -- an alarm directly next to his head paired with another one placed on the floor on the other side of his room. A different and slightly louder alarm tucked away on the top shelf of his closet. Even our own screeching voices yelling at him through the Echo Dot he keeps tucked under his pillow. 

He slept through all of them, or worse, would make the journey down from his bunk bed while still asleep, turn the alarm(s) off, and then climb right back in bed with absolutely zero memory of doing so when I showed up at his door 20 minutes later to physically drag him out of bed. 

(And then again 20 minutes after that, because I'd leave to give him some privacy to get dressed, only to find that he again returned to bed and was as awake and sentient as a sweet potato.) 

And so we bought him the Sonic Bomb, which promises to wake the deepest of sleepers with features such as: 

  • A turbo-charged loud, vibrating alarm clock
  • A powerful 12 volt bed shaker and adjustable extra loud alarm
  • Built-in pulsating alert lights
  • Snooze defuser
  • Built-in red flashing alert lights, and battery backup
  • Explosive red display

An explosive red display! Twelve entire volts of violent bed-shaking action! An alarm so loud you can hear it from space!

Well, you can certainly hear the alarm in our bedroom, where it sounds like an air horn going off on my nightstand. You can hear it from anywhere in the house, actually, including the basement, as it reverberates and blares through the HVAC ducts. You can even hear it outside on our driveway, through the windows in Noah's room...

...where he is still deadass asleep, while everyone else in the household moans and groans because 1) they do not need to wake up that early, and 2) IT'S BEEN 20 MINUTES TURN THE BLOODY SHRIEKING THING OFF FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE. 

(You can also hear it precisely at 5 p.m. every evening, when it goes off for a second time for reasons unknown, and we misplaced the instructions and have no idea how to delete this mysterious second alarm.)

(AND you can also hear it at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, because Noah never remembers to turn off the primary alarm. And why should he bother? IT SURE AS HELL DOESN'T BOTHER HIM.)

Sometimes Noah does hear it, but again, he doesn't fully wake up. He just climbs down from his (shaking!!!) bed and sleepwalks across the room to smack at the alarm a few times...and then goes right the fuck back to bed as if nothing happened at all

And on those mornings I stare at the ceiling of my room on the complete opposite side of the house, fully awake thanks to the banshee alarm clock, wondering if Noah really woke up when he turned the alarm off or if he's back in bed asleep already, and contemplating how many minutes I can risk staying in bed before checking on him. Because I really WANT to stay in bed but am ALSO prone to falling back asleep, which then results in a OH SHIT WAKE UP WAKE UP disaster scenario five minutes before the bus is due to arrive.

And we can't even blame it on the alarm clock not going off, like normal people. It does go off. It just Does Not Work. 

 

Comments

Cathy

Jesus wept. My husband was one of those teenagers that nothing beyond an earthquake or his mother threatening murder if he didn't get up could rouse. He still sleeps like the dead and used to use an alarm so loud that the first time I slept at his house I about hit the ceiling, heart pounding. Since that time I am the one who wakes him up, because I do not want to start my day with palpitations or ringing ears. Godspeed, Amy. You have my sympathy.

Nora Christman

I was just looking at that alarm clock for my heavy-sleeping daughter. Perhaps you could try Clocky in conjunction with his clock that does not work? It is probably not loud enough to wake him up on its own, but chasing it around might wake him up...? My son had it and it worked well for him.
https://www.amazon.com/Clocky-Original-Runaway-Alarm-Wheels/dp/B000TAS9XQ/

Violet

This is me. Problem is I have to leave for work at 5am on the weekends while the rest of my family get to lay in. If you ask my adult daughter why she wants to move into her own place, apart from the fact that is she is an adult and it's about time, the other reason is to get away from my air raid siren alarm clock.
She moves out a week Saturday. ...

jodi

My 13 year old son also does not turn off his RIDICULOUSLY LOUD alarm on weekends and therefor I never get any sleep and I have threatened to smash that thing with a hammer many times.

Sue W.

I have no assvice, but you have my sympathy.

AmandaG

I love sleeping and hate waking up early in the mornings. What works for me is my husband turning on lights and the TV. I may not pop out of bed right away but it starts getting me out of sleep and I start listening to the news on the TV. If he is sensitive to sleeping with lights, maybe you could have his ceiling light on a timer or app? I just realized you did not ask for advice. Maybe you were too sleepy to remember to add it?

Sarahd

I have one son who was similarly oblivious to his alarm at that age but now he's 17 and USUALLY hears it and gets up. There is hope!

HollyH

Both my husband's mom and his ex were very difficult to get moving in the morning. He developed his own technique for helping them get up, without having to deal with the crankies. He would make them a drink, usually coffee (though it could be water or cocoa) and get them to sit up. They would then have to pay attention to not spill. Usually by the time they finished the drink, they were ready to get up. Maybe hubby's trick could work?

Amanda Savarino

We just bought that Exact Same alarm siren from hell for our 14 year old son who also turns it off in his sleep. Which, I guess, is a step up from his old alarm that he never ever ever turned off.
As the lightest sleeper on Earth I cannot comprehend my zombie child's ability to sleep through anything. Also there is No way a smoke alarm would ever wake him up which terrifies me.

Cheryl S.

Does he care enough about school that him being late would upset him? (This worked for my daughter). They are considered "tardy" if they are late without an excuse and if they miss something, it's a 0. If he doesn't care (my nephew!) then I have no other suggestions other than threats of severe bodily harm!!!! :)

Lauren

My kids are gradually waking up later and later. It's only a matter of time before this is us.

Maybe you could have some sort of Titanic audio or video set to start at wake up time. Or a ship's whistle/horn? ;-)

Haley

This was me before my son was born. I lived in an apartment once that was notorious for middle of the night fire alarms, but no fire. One night, I stumbled outside during one of alarms. The entire building and fire department were all on the sidewalk. Apparently, it had been going off for about ten minutes, and I slept right through it. The firemen were concerned enough to ask my apartment number, so in the event of an actual fire they could rescue me. Now, I wake up anytime my kid so much as rolls over. The best thing for getting me out of bed was my mom, who called me for years to make sure I was up.

Amy in StL

My brother hooked up an industrial alarm, that a factory was getting rid of and put it in his bedroom with the timer mechanism in the other room. It works, but only because his girlfriend won't let him go back in the bedroom. He is 60. I used to be bad, but figured out what worked for me. Maybe you can enlist him to help you figure out a solution? (Mine is waking up to an annoying radio station I can't stand so I get annoyed, which wakes me up)

Shannon

I might also remind you that teenagers need way more sleep than they think. The recommendation is 9 - 9.5 hours/night.
When my son struggled (and he still does at 19), one of our tactics was to remove all electronic devices from his room at night so that he was not up late socializing/gaming. And unfortunately for me, we relied on the maternal alarm clock. I woke up at 6:00 am whether I needed to or not.
I also, after a certain point, refused to write notes for him. Racking up enough unexcused tardies for ISS helped a bit...

Nancy

I feel you. We started having all of our kids get up to their own alarm in 5th grade. Worked great for three of them, 4th (3rd in birth order) is now 18 and will shut off alarms in his sleep. The holier-than-thou crowd thinks it is a parenting issue, because they are good parents and they don't have difficult sleepers. They will tell you earlier bedtimes, no electronics in the room, removal of privileges for tardies and Love & Logic will work. Tried all of the above. Can assure you - it's the kid. There's only so much you can do. Good luck.

Kristinc

Had the same issue here. We found the solution (not a paid endorsement... it just works!)... Freaky Alarm. It is an app. It is magically annoying and amazing, and annoying! you can set the level of difficulty. Shortly after the annoying noises that wake the teenager begin, there are problems to solve, and the grand finale is that we have it turn off with a photo of a barcode that is strategically placed downstairs at the dining room table. It is a. maze. ing!

Katie Nabors

My husband only wakes up to an alarm of roosters calling. I hate chickens to hell because evil and they want to rule the world (it's a running joke that we had before we married and I found out about the alarm). Obviously they've already brainwashed my husband.

yasmara

My brother was that kid. My mom had to throw water on him once to get him up.

Xat (Rabbit Style News)

Some people say "take a morning shower instead of a night shower, a nice morning shower will really help wake you up!" I say that doesn't help because I don't sleep in the bathtub. I'd already be awake by the time I got in the shower. My problem is the actual waking up part, not the clear-my-mind-and-feel-mentally-alert-aka-"awake" part.

Regan

My mom used a cold, wet rag to the face to get me up. Simple, but effective. But that requires you to be awake. Boo.

Saturngrl

I once had the loveliest waking ever when I was in Wales -- my friend's mother brought me a bacon sandwich & coffee in bed! She said her daughter and husband were impossible to wake, and she had learned that the smells and taste were the only thing that could wake them.

I assume you have already tried a sunrise alarm? If not, you might consider adding it to the arsenal.

I can't remember, does Noah have ADHD? His circadian rhythm might be *very* off, even more than a typical teenager (N being a bit young for the full phase shift older teenagers go through).

parodie

Does sunlight make a difference? We got one of those sunrise-mimicking alarm clocks and it really does work. It doesn’t jar you awake exactly but you’re just not as deeply asleep when the noise starts. Maybe that in conjunction with this alarm or the app suggested above?

But mostly just sympathy, that sounds so miserable for the rest of you... as an undergrad (college student) I did at times have early morning conversations I absolutely Did Not Remember. So I get it.

Heather

This made me snort with laughter. I love your writing, Amy. You have my sympathies because I also have a heavy sleeper. It is maddening. I just want to sleep as late as I can every morning. But no! I have to wake up early and make sure my 10 year old gets up for school.

KC

If the shaking part works well enough that he gets out of bed, I wonder if there's a bed-shaker that could be linked to an app such that he has to, say, correctly solve 5 math problems or spelling words that Alexa spits at him before the bed will stop shaking? If you can successfully link together a silent bed shaker with Alexa, I'd vote for also having a remote-controlled light of some kind start turning on when the bed shaker starts. You might be able to get away with lower noise levels if you can find the right combination of other stimuli. (remote-controlled mini cars driving up from the bottom of the bed? I don't know...)

(and I start thinking about a Rube Goldberg machine to dump a wet sponge on him...)

Good luck!

Suki

This line, "....awake and sentient as a sweet potato". Whew, that is great writing. And that truly sucks, I was that kid too. My parents had to break a window once when they forgot their keys, b/c their endless pounding and doorbell ringing wouldn't wake my sleeping self. Shrug. That Freaky Alarm sounds legit, good luck.

Lauren A

In our house the wake up is by me or my husband, and they walk with us to the living room right on wake up. they have to eat breakfast in their pjs as they eat cereal and watch a wild Keats episode. And THEN they go back to rooms to change- at which point they’re awake enough to not crawl back in bed. Also effective is if they are hard to wake up one day they go to bed 30 minutes earlier the next night because their bodies must need it, and 30 minutes earlier each night after if it keeps up. Don’t want to go to sleep at 8pm with the toddler? Don’t be a bear to wake up then!

Cat

We have that EXACT SAME GD ALARM and EXACT SAME ISSUE. Why have we not thrown away the alarm, since all it does is make us get out of bed to wake him up? Also our middle school starts at 7:25 so the alarm is at 6:00. WEEPING! And part of me thinks that he’s just being mean because HOW IN THE WORLD CAN HE STILL BE ASLEEP. Merry Christmas brilliant parents who fell for the marketing!

Cat

Also in my defense and possibly yours... my son goes to sleep at 8:30 and is not allowed to have screens in his room. He just needs all the sleep and (really more than 9.5 hours of sleep but that’s all we can manage, because 8:30 is early enough?!?)

Wendy

I can't even comprehend not waking up from that alarm clock -- I'm completely, 100% deaf and that is the one I have. (I use the bed shaker part, because I can't hear the actual alarm -- although I accidentally left the audible alarm on once years ago and it woke the entire family!) The shaking bed makes me FLY awake. I have the vibrator portion between the mattress and box spring -- it really shakes the whole bed, my husband hates it with a passion!

That is one sleep-loving child you have there! :)

Amy

Ha!! I am a heavy sleeper but not that bad. My mother, however, was like this when she was young. In fact, she went to boarding school for high school and one of her hallmates was assigned to be her alarm clock and wake her up every day because there was no alarm clock that would wake her up. The good news is she outgrew it. Probably Noah will too! The bad news is that it wasn’t until she was in her late 20s. So probably not until he’s well out of your house!

Sarah Dalton

I am not sure if Noah has a phone... but I used to have an alarm clock app that was AMAZING. It required me to 1. get out of bed and take a picture of a predetermined thing in a room outside of my bedroom, 2. solve a puzzle. before the beeping would turn off. By the time I got through the whole thing I was generally awake, and far from my bed so getting back in wasn't an option.

Julie

This is my husband, he takes an allergy medication at night that knocks him out and he slept through colicky babies and blaring smoke detectors... No assvice, other than we somehow accidentally trained our cocker spaniel to annoy the heck out my husband at 6:00 am every morning (the dog hears the neighbor's diesel pickup and wants to go out and investigate.) I'm already up and leaving for work and he's slept through all of that... but a 27 pound dog bouncing around and kicking him does the trick.

Kate

My dad would let the dog in to my room to wake me up in the morning. Slobbers and claws and snuffling got me up quite well.

Suzanne

My stepdad installed a speaker right outside my bedroom door when I was 12 or 13 and made three cassette tapes that started with Reville, and allowed me and my sister to pick music to be recorded onto them. Then he wired that speaker down to his (locked) closet in our basement, where it was hooked up to a cassette player that started on a timer at 7 am.

There was no shutting that damn thing off. When it didn't work? My stepdad armed my sister with water pistols to shoot at me from my bedroom door. THOSE got me out of bed.

Why was it there? Because I was like Noah, but I probably stayed up a lot later than he does. Also, AD-fucking-HD...that wasn't diagnosed officially until 6 years ago. I'm debating spending an insane amount of money for one of those daylight brightening alarm clock thingies.

Brandi

This is my husband. His mom had to wake him with a brass bell! He HATED that damn bell! 😂 When he was in high school he backed his car into the driveway because he was always leaving late for school and didn’t have time to back out. The only thing that sorta worked for him as an adult was turning the clock radio up loud and setting it to the most obnoxious morning show we could find. Even then I wound up rolling over and smacking him until he got up to hit snooze. I’m sorry! It’s just one of those things.

Miriam

App called Sleep Cycle, figures out when you are most nearly awake and gently wakes you during that time.

Jasmine

I am generally immune to sounds, but bed vibrations fills me with some kind of animal panic to jolt awake and lie in cold fear. Of course, those vibrations are from DH's phone alarms... :(

As a teenager however this technology did not exist. My probably-useless advice:

1. Visualising the waking up process mentally and using my memory and imagination and re-living all the sensations upon waking up really helped. I'd lie in bed and in those last spare moments, prime my brain for the routine on eventual awakening. I'd run through the scenario in my mind every night. So when the alarm rings, like a cue I've been subconsciously waiting for, I'd find myself stirring from sleep, because I primed myself on the sequence of actions I'd do in response to a particular cue.
I'll give an example of how powerful priming works. If I got the idea (at night prior to falling asleep) to play sick in order to stay home from school or work the next day, I'd find yourself sleeping through alarms like they never existed even if I didn't actually want to stay home and miss school.

2. When the alarm does ring, no matter what, and as part of the visualising, I'd physically sit up, then physically stand up. And shake my entire body like a wet dog (!) then get on with it, no, not getting back on the bed. Getting out of the room into the bathroom. Routine routine routine.

3. Ensure alarm is out of reach. Mine was under my bed. I had to get up and reach under. Moved the clock with me to the bathroom and back. I'd already have pre-estimates of how long each part of the routine should take or what the clock should read at the end of each check in point.

P.S. Adult ADHD sufferer here. Good luck

Karen

My brother was like this as a teen (so was I, a bit, but not as bad, he would sleep in until noon on the weekends). When my mom wanted him up, she would tell me, "Go get the cat." I'd get the cat and drop the cat on his head. Crude, but it worked, but only with one of the cats--the other one would curl up with him and sleep too.

I'm with Shannon above who mentioned removing electronic devices; our 13 year old was staying up waaaay late chatting on his phone or computer, and then trying to sleep in until noon (we homeschool and I was always having to get him up at a decent hour so he could get his work done). He has a computer in his room for schoolwork, so removing it wasn't the answer. Finally we put his computer and phone on an internet network that we unplug at bedtime; he's forewarned that if he tries to use his phone for late night texting on data, he'll run out of data super fast and we will know and trouble will ensue. The first morning after we started this he was up at 8 am and ready to start on his schoolwork, a refreshing change.

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