I heard through the grapevine that my 13-year-old cousin thinks she has mono b/c “she’s tired a lot.” Now, if I actually were her friend on Facebook I could tell her this face to face…ish. But since I’m refusing to even acknowledge that I’ve heard of Facebook while in her presence, I have to just say this here.
She’s 13. She will be tired until she dies.
Think about this. If everyone middle schooler thought they had mono b/c they were tired all of the time, there would be mass mono epidemics. It would wipe out entire classes, entire grades, entire school districts! Because being tired is what you do when you are 13.
Let’s face it. We really spend most of our lives being tired. From birth to around 3 or 4 we’re tired. It’s hard being a baby. I mean, you spend all these months cooped up in the dark and then all of sudden you’re shot out into the world and expected to smile and coo and be adorable? That, my friends, is a LOT of effort. Plus, now you have to really work for your food, you’re not just soaking up the nutrients anymore. It’s exhausting. Then, as you get a little older, you start learning to walk and talk. That too is tiring. It’s bad enough that you have to learn all of these things but then once you do everyone around is all “say MaMa. say DaDa.” and “walk for Mommy! walk for Mommy!” Performing these tasks once is hard enough but then being expected to perform them for everyone else is just hell! Once you finally master these skills (the walking and the talking) you’re expected to do them on your own. And your legs are LITTLE dammit! It’s hard to keep up with everyone. So you are tired. All of the time.
Then around 3 or 4 you get sent to pre-school. And everyone there is short like you. And it’s SO MUCH EASIER to keep up with everyone. So you’re not quite as tired. And then they keep you in school. You’re there for a few years, you make friends, you play together after school, you run around the playground at recess like a bunch of wild animals. And on Saturdays, you wake up early, find someone, anyone to play with and you do it all again. You are beyond energetic and you stay that way until you turn 13.
13. The teen years. Puberty. You’re officially screwed from here on out. You’re tired ALL the time. And now, what’s this, your bus is picking you up 45 minutes earlier? Whoa whoa whoa, what’s that all about? That’s 45 minutes you could be sleeping. But, okay, well, it’s not terrible. You’ve still got the energy for after school activities. And you’ve got the energy to play with your friends after school, I mean, you should since they TOOK AWAY RECESS.
After a year or so you get used to this schedule…and then you get to high school. And your bus is yet ANOTHER 45 minutes earlier picking you up. That’s right. Your bus is getting to your house at 6:35 AM!! DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW EARLY THAT IS?! You are waking up BEFORE 6 am. It’s still DARK out when you wake up. And not the, it’s just dark because of the time change dark. ALL THE TIME DARK. And now, instead of hanging out after school you are expected to do things like join clubs so you get into college. And get a job so you can go out with your friends. But all you REALLY want to do when you get out of school at 2:20 is go home and go to bed. But you can’t. Because after work and activities and everything else you have to stay up and do homework. And you only have 2 days to sleep in (or just one if you’re stupid like me and picked the ONLY after school activity that has ALL of it’s competitions early Saturday mornings…).
After 4 years of this hellish schedule you finally make it to college. And 8am classes. Which really just seem like cruel and unusual punishment but you can go to them in sweatpants and then come immediately home and sleep for 5 hours in the middle of the day. Or you can adjust your schedule to never have classes before noon. But no matter what, you will still be tired. You’re up late drinking or studying. You’re up early drinking (hey, tailgating is practically for credit) or studying. There’s no breaking the cycle. But at least you have summers off. That’s been the one bright spot in the years and years of early mornings and rigid schedules. You’ve had summers.
But then you graduate. And now what? There are no summers. There are no “late starts.” There is just morning after morning. Commuting and struggling to make it into the office on time. And you are tired.
And then, as you can imagine, the story goes on. You get married and you’re tired. You have kids and you take tired to a whole new level. Then you get old and you retire and you know what? You are still tired.
So, to my cousin (who I can only pray never actually discovers this blog), you do not have mono. You are just an adult. And as such, you will be tired until you die.
I suggest you make friends as soon as possible with a beautiful little substance called caffeine. It will be your greatest ally.