Alarm clocks

Or at least some advice.

The girlchild takes after the Mathematician in a variety of ways, good and not so good. She’s got a facility for numbers and abstract concepts (good); she’s tall and lean (good, in my short and round opinion); she’s a night owl. Which is really not very good because high schools don’t understand about circadian rhythms. Her natural rhythms would have her sleeping from about 2 am to 10 am; her first class starts at 7:45. This is one of those never-the-twain-shall-meet situations.

And I’m caught in the middle. Who has to get her out of bed when she’s moaning pitifully that she couldn’t fall asleep until two? Guess. And boy, can she get cranky when she’s tired. You know that dawn-of-the-dead ferocious yellow eyed stare? That’s her, in bed, looking up at me.

Of course she has to take some responsibility at age almost seventeen, but we have tried to help by providing incentives, both positive and (more recently) negative. The new one is this: if she’s not pulling out of the garage at 7:20, there’s no internet or television for twenty-four hours. My role in this: I wake her up, once. After that she’s on her own, and if she can’t make herself move in time, that’s it. No wiggle room.

This is very, very unpopular.

Today I decided to look for an alarm clock that would make it easier for her to get out of bed, and provide some relief for all parties. Especially me. Do you have any idea how many alarm clocks are out there, and how badly designed most of them are?

Here’s what I want, and can’t find:

1. An atomic clock, one that checks with the Colorado clock by radio and sets itself to the right time. My alarm has this feature, and I never have to worry about whether it’s right or not. This feature will preclude the “my clock is different than your clock my clock says I have five more minutes” debate.

2. A very, very loud alarm. This will cut off the “I slept right through it” discussion.

3. Buttons large enough to see. You think I’m joking, but some of the alarm clocks out there I swear have been miniaturized. Someplace design engineers are laughing hysterically at the idea of middle aged women trying to set an alarm by manipulating a button the size of a pin head. No “I set it wrong” excuses.

4. A clock that has BOTH batteries and an plug. Batteries for when the power fails, power for the rest of the time. The “I guess the power went out” last ditch excuse will no longer fly.

I have looked at a hundred, two hundred, a thousand alarm clocks today, thanks to the internet, and none of them combine these features. If they do, they’ve got some other feature than renders them completely useless. A clock that can be immediately silenced by touching it anywhere is not a clock that is going to get the kid out of bed on time. A clock that has a setting for a kinder, gentler sounding alarm? Really, not a good idea. Nor do we need a clock that tells us the temperature in New Delhi, the time in Miami, the humidity in our own garden. The clock doesn’t need to talk to us, or sing us songs or make breakfast.

Loud ring, reliable time, power backup.

Apparently, this is too much to ask.