Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Sleepwalking Sons

My son has gone sleepwalking since he was small.  He experienced night terrors when he was younger, too, but those are far less amusing and far more alarming, especially because he's a strong child and can - and WILL - fight you tooth and nail when he's having a night terror.  Thankfully those seem to have gone away with age; the last one he had that I can remember was when he was 9 and woke up screaming bloody murder at about 11:30 p.m.  Oz and I both thought that someone must have broken into his bedroom and went racing down the hall to find a shrieking, sleeping child.


Sleepwalking is far funnier.  He's done everything from peed in the trash can to holding entire discombobulated conversations.  But it had been a while since I'd seen anything particularly remarkable.

Until today.

He went over to his best friends' house yesterday.  They're twins.  The three of them sit up and play video games until their brains ooze out of their skulls, talking and laughing (and eating) ad nauseum.  They're a good group of boys, but I fail to understand the fascination of a screen.  And apparently Doodlebug felt the need to help provide snacks this time and helped himself to what was left of the loaf of cinnamon raisin bread I had in the pantry.  I had no idea he'd swiped it until I showed up to retrieve him today and noticed a bread bag in his backpack… and then five minutes later saw one of the twins hauling an uneaten piece out from another bedroom and putting it in the trash.  The twins' mom was like, "Was that moldy bread?!?"  And I had to explain that no… no, those were raisins.

I digress again.

So Doodlebug came home from his friends' house in his usual fatigued state.  They sleep during these 'sleepovers,' but only just enough to recharge their inner batteries long enough to play more games.  I suspect Doodlebug probably got about 4-5 hours of sleep, which is actually more than par but way less than the child needs.  He had some cleaning to do when he got home, but he knocked that out before he fell asleep.  I didn't know this, however, and after about an hour I called him downstairs to ask about the status of his chores.  I called once.  No answer.  I called again.  No answer.  I called a third time and got a, "Coming, Mom," after which he thumped slowly down the stairs.

This is where it got good.  Instead of coming into the living room and talking to me, he walked behind me and into the laundry room.  He opened the dryer.  He paused.  He felt around the top of the dryer - for what, I do not know.  He paused again.  He pulled out the lint trap and stared at it, then blinked and cleaned it.  He tossed the lint into the trash can and returned the lint trap.  At this point, I started giggling and Oz, who was still waiting on the boy to come talk to me, gave me an odd look.

"He's sleepwalking," I told him.

"He is?  Is he going to feed the animals?"

Something registered in Doodlebug's mind when Oz said that, and he did in fact turn to open the closet where we keep the animals' food.

"No, Doodlebug," I called out gently.  "It's not time to feed the animals yet."

The boy turned back to the dryer.

"Can you close the dryer, please?"

He obligingly closed it… and reached for the controls to turn it on.

"No, don't turn it on, please.  There's nothing in it."

He lowered his hand.  Then he walked to the light switch and flicked it off.  And stood there.  At this point, my goal was just to get him safely back upstairs and into his bed again.  I wasn't even concerned about the status of the cleaning.

"Doodlebug, can you come here, please?"

He wandered out of the laundry room and back into the living room.  Oz still wasn't convinced he was sleeping.  "Hey, Doodlebug, what color is a pink elephant?"

Doodlebug stared at him for a minute, wrinkled his brow, and said, "I don't know."

I sighed and figured I'd prove things definitively.  "Can you hold up eight fingers?"

And that request broke the child.  He almost burst into tears.  Don't worry - I felt bad and gave him a good cuddle before I sent him back upstairs.  It's kind of fun fitting a 5'6" 110-pound child in your lap, but a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

He's awake now, for real, and has no memory of any of this.  And while it's kind of cute that he does chores while sleepwalking, it also concerns me how lucid he seems during these times.  Because a normal person would never have realized that it was sleepwalking.  I only know because I know.

Heaven help us all if he sleepwalks during school one day.

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