Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Add Extreme Sleepwalking to His Resume

 Our son Cooper has become somewhat renowned for a variety of things ~  his amazing ability to play guitar despite his refusal/inability to read music (he once told his piano teacher that "negative A" came before "A" in the musical alphabet), his striking similarity in appearance to the famed Justin Bieber (Never Say Never!), his mad basketball skillz (he was one of three to receive a "Blue Chip" scholarship from basketball camp this year), a stupefying ability to rapidly memorize anything of any length (he memorized the Nicene Creed last night in about 20 minutes ~ sheesh!), and some uncanny, and highly unsettling sleep patterns.

If you read a recent previous post, you know we spent a week at Gordon College with about 400 teenagers a couple of weeks ago for youth camp.  Well, as you may already know, youth camp typically has all of the perfect ingredients for what could be a recipe for disaster: lots of sun and heat, cafeteria food three times a day for 6 days, very late nights, very early mornings, and non-stop, high-energy activity.  Cooper reacts more sensitively to these extreme conditions than my other two kiddos, and we caught a startling glimpse of that last summer at camp when we woke up to someone banging on our dorm room door one night  around midnight.  We thought it was Allyson, the camp director, waking us up because of some emergency, but it was Cooper ~ our son ~ the one we had tucked into bed in the next room just a couple of hours earlier.  He had been sleepwalking (he does this at home occasionally, too), had walked out of our dorm room/apartment, wandered down the hall and around in the dorm building for a while, and then had returned to our room to find that the door had automatically locked behind him. We let him in, tried to get an explanation out of the sleeping boy, and tucked him back into bed, but as you can imagine, it worried us a bit.  Who knows what he did or where he went or for how long?  Fortunately, the whole building is full of those who are on staff at the camp just like us, and we all know each other!
 Well, this year I determined to figure out the proper magnetic strip/key swipe motions to keep our door unlocked at ALL times for the duration of camp.  It worked, and was wonderful freedom from kids needing keys at all times of the day to get back into our room. (3 keys + 8 people = someone always locked out. We had three extra children with us for the week.)  I wasn't really thinking about the previous year's sleepwalking episode, but rather my own stress level in managing children and keys. Although if Cooper did leave our room, at least he could get back in this way!
Two birds, one stone; perfect!

Oh vanity of vanities!

This year, on the second  night of camp, Cooper came into our room between midnight and 1am, obviously scared and upset.  I was soooooooo sound asleep (camp is exhausting for big people, too) that I could barely make out what he was saying at first:  sleepwalking, outside, door locked, emergency phone, police officer....

Police????

Yes,  this year Cooper outdid himself by sleepwalking OUT of his bedroom...
OUT of our dorm room/apartment ON the second floor...
DOWN the stairs (or elevator, who knows?)...
OUTSIDE of the dorm building, 
IN the middle of the night...
ALONG the sidewalk...
NEAR the campus POND...
TOWARD the chapel...
...and then he woke up and realized ~ 
"Wait.  Mom and Dad aren't in the chapel.  They are in bed. The worship service is over.  The moon is shining.  There is no one out here.  Everyone is in bed.  I guess I should go back to bed, too."

Good plan, except that the dorm buildings are locked for security purposes each night at midnight, so he couldn't go back to bed!  He couldn't even get back into our building!

So, he walked around the entire building, tried all the doors, and even some first floor windows.  Everything was locked tight.  Thankfully, he had gained presence of mind enough to read the sign on the entry door and use the emergency phone to call the campus police as directed.  He explained to them that he had been sleepwalking (think they believed him??) and was locked out of his dorm. He waited a few minutes, and then a female police officer arrived and let him back in. He said she was nice.
 So, each evening, for the rest of the week, after tucking all children snugly into their beds, this is how I barricaded our dorm room door ~ first the trash can, then the recycle bin, and then a chair ~ and a turned lock  The door was able to be locked by a dead bolt from the inside.  One night I even put all the baskets of dirty laundry there, too.   I pleaded with Cooper to let those objects serve as a memory jogger that it was NIGHTTIME and NOT TIME to leave the room.  I also prayed for his ability to rest and sleep peacefully after that, and he did.
The boy is a perpetual source of entertainment, fear, frustration, and adventure ~ and for that, we love him all the more.

(Are there such things as sleepwalking alarms?  Maybe a near-future investment...)




3 comments:

LORI said...

Wow! I'd start looking for PJs with GPS!0

Betsy said...

I like the idea of PJs with GPS.

I was a sleepwalker as a child, but thankfully it stopped before I went to college.

My older child sleepwalks on occasion, but it has not been a big deal - yet. :)

Cinnamon said...

I loved your blockade!! Too funny! Well I guess not funny if you're being woke up in the middle of the night :-/

Good to catch up on what you've been doing~

~Cinnamon