Last week Jack fell out of bed again although from our room it sounded more like he attempted a Yurchenko on the vault and over-rotated the double salto triple twist layout dismount. As any father who is jolted from sleep by a mandatory one-point deduction coming from his child’s room would do I jumped out of bed, stepped on the cat, pinballed against our bedroom door jam and stumbled into Jack’s bedroom where I found him crying on the floor next to his bed. After scooping him up, checking him repeatedly for any sign of injury, hugging him and telling him that “Daddy’s Here” then tucking him back under the covers he was back to sleep in less than a minute. Conversely, I was wide awake as my heart hammered out Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher drum intro, grateful to have purchased the night light with the optional defibrillator attachment.
When we first converted his crib to a twin bed Jack had a removable bed rail with mesh netting that prevented him from falling out or from migrating upstream in his sleep. A few months ago though, after he stopped sleeping the entire night with his face pressed against the mesh, we removed it from his bed; partially because we believed he’d fully made the transition from crib to big boy bed, but mostly because some of our neighbors were accusing us of beating him with a badminton racket.
Now, if third shift gymnastic floor routines weren’t enough to make us sleep with one eye open, Jack recently took up sleep walking. A couple weeks ago Kathleen nudged me awake in the wee hours of the morning and whispered, “Is that Jack crying downstairs?” As any father at that moment would do I jumped out of bed, stepped on the cat, pinballed against our bedroom door jam and stumbled down the stairs and into the kitchen where I found him crying in the dark. I lifted him up and hugged him tightly while he sobbed and kept saying that he couldn’t find us. How terrifying it must have been for him to wake up alone, in the unfamiliar darkness of a strange room. How helpless he must have felt when he thought he was lost and alone. How much I wish he had gone potty before he went to bed instead of waiting for me to pick him up so he could write his name on my shirt.
Though he possesses very little recollection of these post-midnight incidents, I now lie awake in bed at night convinced that every creaky floorboard is either Jack tumbling to the floor or Bella Karolyi going through our cabinets. Just last week for instance I thought I heard Jack whimpering downstairs again only to end up comforting the coffee maker. If he continues to sleep walk and fall out of bed we’re going to start beating him with a badminton racket again. I don’t care what the neighbors think.