When your child sleepwalks
Let me tell y’all a funny story about sleepwalking.
(Yes, I’m a Southerner when I blog, despite living in cold-ass Nova Scotia.)
I try not to (really) embarrass our kids with my writing (sort of) (most of the time) so I’ll keep this story anonymous.
Darling Husband and I were lounging around in the basement one night, after putting the kids to bed, and all had been quiet for a while. We were watching a show when, over the baby monitor, we heard one of the kids walking around — followed by crying a few minutes later.
(We have to use a monitor when we’re down there, because otherwise we wouldn’t heard a thing from two floors up.)
Luckily, I was the first person to touch my nose and yell “Not it!” so it was up to Darling Husband to trudge up the two flights of stairs to investigate the crying. Sucker.
I paused the show and was scrolling through Pinterest or something while I waited, and then I heard his voice over the monitor.
“Um, Heather? Can you come up here?”
Curious, I ran up the stairs to the kids’ bedrooms.
And then stopped near the top when the smell of poo was overpowering.
I rounded the corner and peered over the baby gate (more on that later) to see a giant pile of poop right there on the hall carpet. Darling Husband was waiting for me with wide eyes and an amused smile on his face.
“OH MY GOD! WHAT HAPPENED?” I hissed in the semi-darkness.
I should mention that both kids were fully, FULLY potty-trained by this point, so we were not used to finding turds on our berber carpet.
My first thought? Our neighbour’s dog
had somehow gotten in and … no, we’d have heard here. (She’s a beautiful and gentle but huge dog).
My second thought? Some kind of wild animal?! How would they have …
Then I heard the crying come from the room of one of our children (I won’t say which, and if you’ve heard this story IRL, don’t tell) and it became clear.
I had birthed Hall Pooper.
Basically, Anonymous Child had woken up in the night, had to poop, shuffled around in a sleepwalking state, and mistaken the little white doorstopper for the hall closet door as … a toilet.
I mean, they *are* both white.
Then, said Anonymous Said woke up, realized their error, and rushed back to bed in a tearful panic. Poor him or her, right?!
Anyway, the poop was cleaned up, the child was calmed down and put back to bed, and Darling Husband and I returned to the basement — baffled.
It certainly was not the first time our children had a bout of sleepwalking. It’s pretty common in this house, actually. Apparently it can run in families, and my mother-in-law is a notorious sleepwalker.
We have investigated tears in the middle of the night to find children sitting on the toilet, totally confused and asleep.
We have heard noises and found them wandering around the top level, searching for the bathroom, totally asleep. (Or in the bathroom but just staring at the toilet like they don’t know how to use it.)
We have had conversations with them (albeit sleepy ones) while they’re totally asleep.
We have heard thuds and bumps and random noises and find them trying to go downstairs in the middle of the night, totally asleep.
Hence … the baby gate.
Our kids are now five and six, and that baby gate at the top of the stairs is NOT GOING ANYWHERE.
What started out as a normal baby-proofing item — installed when D was one and C wasn’t even born — is now a safety device for our little sleepwalkers. We have to make sure it’s shut and locked every night, and so far (knock on all the wood) they haven’t been able to open it while sleepwalking.
As for how we handle the sleepwalkers, other than the baby gate, we really just need to lead them to the bathroom — that’s usually what gets them out of bed — or help them wipe, if they’re really out of it, and then gently guide them back to their bed.
It is a bit freaky, though. Their eyes are open. They talk, sometimes, but it often isn’t totally clear.
And they remember NOTHING in the morning, even if we give them details about what they said or did.
Sleepwalking is supposedly pretty common in children and they often grow out of it, so we’ll see if we still need the baby gate when they’re 15 and 16.
(If we do, I’m totally buying or making a prettier one.)