The other night Matthew had his first sleepover.
The day after Matthew’s sleepover, his friend’s mom calls, she says that she feels bad for him. She doesn’t think that he slept at all that night. He wasn’t defiant or afraid. He didn’t even make any noise. But she had to stay up until 1:00 in the morning checking on him, waiting for him to fall asleep. We don’t know for sure if he ever even really did. He was already awake by the time his friend’s family woke up.
That was after a day at the zoo, where he walked around (off and on, since we had the double stroller with us) for six hours on a hot day. This was after a long drive back and a big meal and a cozy, warm bath with bubbles once we got home. This was with his favorite pajamas and his stuffed puppy. Still, for hours after his friends went to sleep and the house was dark and silent in the middle of the night, he laid there, trying noiselessly to wind down. His buddy’s mom even laughed because he eventually told her, “I don’t need anything. How come you keep checking on me?”
I laughed. Don’t feel bad, I told her. That’s just how he sleeps. In fact, the rule in our house is that he’s not allowed out of his room before six. Before we did that, Spencer would end up making him oatmeal at 3:45 in the morning before he left for work, hoping it would help get him back to sleep (which of course, only energized him more). We have tried everything. His doctor even says “he just seems to run on less sleep.” It’s rare, but apparently, some kids do.
He’s not depressed. He’s not hyperactive. He doesn’t even seem distracted. I’m not going to say that he never seems tired or irritable during the day (sometimes he’ll even ask for a nap, without being able to actually fall asleep for it - he hasn’t napped on a regular basis since he was two), but he has an outstanding memory and great coordination. In that way, you can’t even tell that he’s running on such little sleep. He’s not allowed to even sniff a soda (try as he might to sneak sips whenever he can), and I can’t let him watch T.V. because he just can’t ever handle having it turned off without winding up punished. He doesn’t play video games and he gets ample, ample exercise throughout the day because he needs it; his energy is generally through the roof although he’s capable of concentrating well enough to know that he definitely isn’t suffering from hyperactivity. He has a regular bedtime and he doesn’t even fight us on it, so it’s not that he refuses to go. He readily lets us know whenever he’s tired, he enjoys resting and he wakes up refreshed.
I told her that for as long as he was old enough to climb out of his crib we’ve had the issue of him meandering through the house all hours of the night, looking for things to do because he was “bored”. When it didn’t wake us up, we’d get up in the morning and find the kitchen stool pushed against the counter, the snack cabinet door hanging wide open and packets of animal crackers and pretzel crumbs covering the tile like sawdust on a shop floor. His dad and I were terrified for the longest time of him choking or falling and breaking his neck while we were none-the-wiser, unconscious a floor away.
We’ve considered sleepwalking, we’ve considered night terrors. But when Matthew learned to talk, we figured out quickly that neither one of those is the issue. He can have pretty vivid (even frequent) nightmares, but he’s told me time and again on sleepless nights that he had no scary dreams at all.
Because I’m a light sleeper I’ve been roused some nights every hour, first listening to him fill a cup with water, then get up to go to the bathroom, then fill a cup with water, then get up to go to the bathroom, then fill a cup with water… We cannot let him sleep in our bed with us because he literally never stops moving.
So at his four year check up yesterday, I brought it up to the doctor. This is our second time talking about it, but the first that he really asked me anything back and didn’t assure me that it was probably a phase. It’s a good sign that he doesn’t seem to show evidence of any other strange symptoms, but he may have to see a neurologist in the future, especially if he starts complaining of headaches or any other odd pains.
I think that he’s fine. I really do. Besides maybe having a weak stomach and middle toes on each foot that criss-cross over one another, he’s healthy as an ox and on it’s own, his weird sleeping habits aren’t really cause for concern. But the idea of him needing neurological testing down the road, even just to rule out something improbable is unsettling to say the least. I’m trying not to blow this into something bigger than it is, but I wish I knew more about it.