I realize, that one day, I may be in big trouble for telling this story.
Sometimes, when I am tapping away at my computer, sitting on the plump chair-and-a-half in the living room, Sophia will wander down the stairs. She says nothing. Sometimes she looks around, or heads into the kitchen. Wordlessly, I gently steer her back up the stairs. Sometimes she even goes to the bathroom before heading back to her room, still asleep.
The next day, she has no recollection of what happened. In fact, she wants to know what her sleeping self was up to:
“You were sleepwalking again last night.”
“Really? What did I do, Mom?”
“Not much. You just came down the stairs and stood there for a minute. I said, ‘Sophie? What’s the matter?’ but you didn’t answer me.”
“Were my eyes open?”
“Yes. That’s what was so weird about it. You looked like you were awake, but really out of it.”
“Did I say anything?”
“Nope. It was really creepy. You were like a zombie.”
She liked that. “Cool!”
My mother says that I slept walked as a child, and that she was always afraid I was going to fall down the stairs. But, apparently, in this slow wave stage of sleep, one is capable of performing activities that are usually performed when fully conscious.
Well, sort of:
I have just retired to my bedroom and am pulling out my pajamas, when Sophie appears in the doorway. This is not uncommon. I figure she’s about to ask me for another glass of water.
She looks a bit dazed as she walks into my room. She does not acknowledge me, which strikes me as unusual.
Then, before I know what is happening—before I can speak—she grips the sides of her pajama bottoms and slides them down. Then she pulls down her underwear.
“Sophie! No! This isn’t the bathroom!” I cry out, as she squats a little and lets go with the yellow flow.
The whole thing happens feels like it’s happening in slow motion. But now that she is midstream, there is really nothing I can do to stop her. She pees and pees, and the puddle on my wood floor grows larger and larger. If I were to pick her up now, surely she would leave a trail of urine from my bedroom to the bathroom, soaking the carpet along the way. No, I decide, it’s better to simply let her finish and then intervene.
Seconds feel like minutes. I move my black suede boots out of harm’s way.
Sophie generally drinks a couple glasses of water before she goes to bed. This has never been a problem, since she has always woken up to go to the bathroom. Even when she was first toilet trained.
But now, it’s a liability.
When she finally has stopped, I slip off her wet things, lift her from under her arms, and spirit her away to the tub. She is crying now, and is difficult to tell whether I have woken her, or if she is still asleep.
Though it feels terribly cruel, I turn on the hand-held shower, wait until the water is warm, and hose her down.
“No! Stop laughing at me! Stop laughing!” she cries, trying to block the water with her hands as I do my best to soap her up and rinse her off.
Trust me, I am not laughing.
“Shhhhh. It’s okay, Soph. No one’s laughing at you,” I try to reassure her. I pull her out of the tub and rub her legs dry.
“Let’s get you in some fresh underwear,” I say. She puts them on by herself.
The next morning, she crawls into bed next to me. “Mom? What happened to my pajama bottoms? I had them on when I went to sleep, but I woke up in my underwear.”
She’s not putting me on; at least I don’t think she is. I tell her the whole story, and she’s delighted, laughing. “I don’t remember any of that,” she tells me. “Did it really happen?”
“Look,” I say pointing to a bottle of disinfectant still under my nightstand, “there’s the proof.”
“Where are my clothes?”
“In the washing machine.”
“Can you tell me the story again?”
I am happy to oblige. It is tale that incorporates her most favorite things: humor, toilet talk, and a slice of her life. And, though, one day it may prove to be embarrassing, it is one of those stories that will become family lore.
Like the time, so many years ago, her grandfather slept-walked into his brother’s bedroom opened up his dresser drawer, and peed inside.
(Ooops. I did it again.)