No matter how old our children might be, any parent will tell you that there is one thing we hope they always do - sleep. Indeed, at any age and any stage it is a precious commodity. My friend Jeff has a one and a three year old and admitted recently that if sleep were traded on the stock market, he would buy as many shares as possible. If only it were that easy.
Our boys have always been great sleepers, but now that they are practically all teenagers and not toddlers, the more common challenge is not getting them to sleep, but getting them to wake up. Our oldest would gladly stay up well past midnight in exchange for sleeping well past noon every Saturday and Sunday. This seems like a good idea, until Monday morning comes and he is suffering from self-induced jet lag. It takes him all week to recover, only to start the process all over again come Friday. It's a vicious cycle.
Of course, no sleep can compare to a post summer camp slumber. A month of sleep away camp inevitably requires a solid twenty four hours of recovery sleep upon return. So, when I picked up our boys from camp this past summer, it was no surprise that our youngest son, Levi, asked if he could take a nap in the car when we stopped for our traditional post-camp lunch with friends. We were eating outside, and the car was parked where I could see it, so I let him. About fifteen minutes later, I decided to wake him up so he could eat and, as expected, I found him totally passed out in the passenger's seat. What I didn't expect was to find that he had locked himself in the car with the keys.
I started gently tapping on the window to wake him up, but he didn't respond. I then started banging on the window and calling out his name. He didn't even stir. I then asked the woman in the parked car next to mine if she would honk her horn to see if that would wake him. It didn't. This went on for nearly half an hour. Each passerby who learned of my dilemma seemed determined to be the one with the magic touch. Eventually we had a small mob banging on the car and screaming, "Levi, wake up!" to no avail. It was noon in July, so the car was quickly turning into a makeshift sauna. Luckily, I could see that he was sweating and breathing in equal measure. But as the temperature outside continued to rise, so did my blood pressure.
Just then, two young boys walked by and I overheard one ask the other, "What's going on?" To which the second responded, "Oh, that lady over there locked her baby in the car." That's when I finally lost it. I yelled after them, "He is not a baby! Well, I mean he is technically my baby, but he is an 11-year-old, five foot four, 130-pound boy child and he actually locked himself in the car!" That didn't seem to redeem me as much as I thought it would.
So, that's when I did what any rational mother would do. I called the police. Within five minutes two police cars showed up and surrounded my minivan. I breathed a sigh of relief as they started to jimmy open the door. After multiple attempts, however, the officer said, "It's not working, I can't get the door unlocked." I immediately countered, "Then you better jimmy him awake instead!" So he did. He came around to the passenger's side, snaked the stick through the top of the window, and started jabbing Levi like it was a cattle prod. The poor guy finally woke up and the crowd let out a collective cheer. The look of horror and confusion on his face was almost too much to bear. He was soaked in sweat, with a long yellow stick at his knee, and a dozen strange faces pressed against the car windows. And just in case there was anyone left in the small town of Clayton, Georgia, who wasn't aware of the commotion, when Levi finally managed to unlock the door, the car alarm went off. Now I was exhausted.
True to form, as soon as the cops left, Levi climbed back into the car and fell right back asleep. This time I rolled down all the windows and held onto my keys. He slept for the next 18 hours straight. Luckily, Levi has no memory of the trauma, and I now carry a spare set of car keys wherever I go. I never want to jimmy awake a sleeping baby again.