Like Jet Lag Without Landing Somewhere New

“This is the happy time change.”

That’s what my grandson said yesterday about the turning-back-of-clocks this Saturday evening. He thinks the joy of getting back the hour he lost in the spring is worth it.

But not everyone has agreed.

Nearly a hundred years ago, a reporter for the Madison Press, the newspaper in London, Ohio, made an editorial comment about the first-ever time change for the town.

“London’s fast summer has gone way too slow.”

“Fast time” as they called Daylight Saving Time then, had a rough start, and not only in London.

“We’re just whipping the devil around the stump,” one man said. “Slow time is God’s time. We could adjust if we were minded to. But we’re not minded to.”

And so some shop owners operated on fast time, others on slow. Many displayed two clocks, in their stores, and even the courthouse tower clock showed the double-mindedness of the town. The commissioners ordered that a second set of eight-foot-long hands be added to the clock. All over London, people could look at the tower clock and read fast-time with the red hands and slow-time with the black hands.

This two-times-at-once image reminds me of teaching middle school students on spring-ahead or fall-back Mondays with their bodies synced to one time and the clocks to the other. In the spring, students needed matchsticks for their eyes. Bedtimes came too early, so they’d lie awake and then drag through groggy mornings. And in the fall, lunch time took forever to come, making students restless with hunger and low on blood sugar. If the Oxford English Dictionary editors want confirmation on their recent decision to make the word hangry official, all they need to do is visit a middle school classroom one morning after a time change.

I’ve crossed time zones, going east and going west. And I know the adage that it takes one day to adjust to each hour of change. But I’ve got to say that helping a classroom of middle school students, who already struggle with wake-sleep cycles and mood swings and ravishing hunger, through a one-hour time change feels a little like the jetlag that time we went to Thailand. Only without landing somewhere new.

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