It happened again tonight.
When I went in to check on their sleep, I saw that my youngest boy Caleb was up and rummaging through his toy box in the dark, and I knew instantly he was sleepwalking again.
Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, at most once a month if at all. But when it does, it can be as scary as a scene from “The Walking ____” (sorry I just can’t bring myself to finish that line, but I’m sure you know which TV show I’m talking about!).
His eyes are always wide open during these episodes. He is looking everywhere in fear and trembling, as though he was in a strange frightening place instead of his own familiar home. He will move frantically throughout the house as though in search of something he’s lost, sobbing most of the time (tonight’s sobbing was especially loud and intense, nearly waking up my eldest boy Jaedon who’s always a good easy sleeper). Efforts to physically restrain Caleb and get him back to bed aren’t always successful; neither is letting him do whatever he wants or go wherever he wants. Of course my wife and I would keep a watchful eye and attention to ensure no harm occurs to him, like tripping over a toy or banging into the wall (cos we never really know what he sees though his eyes are wide open).
This sleepwalking thing’s one of my most helpless moments when it comes to caring for Caleb. Whenever it happens, I keep thinking back what happened throughout the day. Did something traumatic happen in school or elsewhere that I don’t know about? Was it even something we said over dinner (or didn’t say)? Or was there an unmet need that day that’s re-surfaced in his sub conscience, causing him to sleep walk? Is he gonna fall ill? Did he lack sleep the night before?
I don’t know that I’ll necessarily have the answer. And even if I google for one, it might only just explain tonight’s episode, not the previous one or the next one. My only recourse is to stay with him, look for an ‘opening’ (which is when he starts to calm down enough) for me to gently lead him back to bed, then wait until his sleep is restored. All the while praying hard he won’t do it again for the rest of the night.
The sleepwalking may actually end up lasting no more than 5 or 6 minutes each time.
But trust me, while it’s going on, the sense of helplessness and despair I have can make the whole encounter feel like a lifetime!