When you're staying away from home, it's sometimes hard to gauge time. But when opening your eyes does nothing to improve your vision, you know it's early.
My daughters each shook one of my legs while whispering for me to wake up. The room was pitch black.
"What time is it?" I replied.
"It's morning day, dream face," my 3-year-old said. "Time to get up."
When you're staying away from home, it's sometimes hard to gauge time. But when opening your eyes does nothing to improve your vision, you know it's early. It was 4 a.m.
"It's time to get donuts," my 5-year-old said, slapping my leg. "Get up."
I slid out of bed and made a "don't wake up mom" motion with my finger and escorted them to their room.
"Why are you two up so early?" I asked.
My oldest put her hands on her hips. "You said that we could wake up before anyone else today and go get doughnuts."
She was right. I did say that. "But it's 4 a.m." I said.
"Well, you told us to get up super early," my oldest replied. "If you told us to just get up a little early, not super early, we would have."
My youngest exhaled in a way that simply said less talk, more doughnuts.
Full blown nostalgia overtakes me when I come to the home where I grew up in southwest Ohio. I like to take the long way to places so I can see how time has changed the settings of my childhood. My kids and wife get to see special places, like the big hill I fell down while rollerblading or the shortcut I used to take to avoid the traffic when leaving high school. You can imagine how thrilled they are at this opportunity.
Often, I am led by my stomach. We eat at Skyline Chili and one of two pizza places. We go to Flying Pizza for the big meatball pie. We go to Marion's for the ambiance. It has large fake trees running down the middle of the restaurant and hundreds of photos on the walls of very famous celebrities from the '70s and '80s, like Loni Anderson and Jamie Farr. The pizza is of the cardboard variety, and the beer comes in pitchers.
And then there's Bill's Donut Shop, which is open 24 hours a day and smells fantastic. It's certainly a place to wake up early for, just maybe not this early. I got the girls to attempt to sleep while I took a long shower. Then I took a long time getting them ready. It still was very early when we got in the car, but at Bill's, it was hopping. Boxes of doughnuts were stacked high on the counter, and more than half the booths were filled. A man in a white baker's coat followed us on the other side of the display as the girls carefully made their selections.
Over chocolate milk and rainbow sprinkled donuts, we laughed and pondered life. And that's what I wanted all along. It wasn't so much about the doughnuts as it was about sharing that moment with them in a place where I spent so much time making good memories.
My youngest asked if she could try on the old prescription glasses in the donation bucket. My oldest asked if we could watch the sun come up. No, we can't try on the glasses, I said. But yes, we can watch the sunrise. "If you can wait a few hours," I added.
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository.Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DaveManley