July 24, 2006

The Teenage Sleeper: A Primer

After spending two weeks with my little sister Caroline, I am very happy to report that her visit was most enlightening. It's been almost 8 years since I was a teenager and being able to spend extended, personal time face to face with one again gave me new insights into their peculiar way of life. There were all the regular teen oddities such as unlikely fashion statements, cell phone appendages and iPod dependency, but the most surprising habit was her astonishing ability to fall asleep in any given moment.

At first I thought that Caroline's habit of sleeping for 20 hours a day was due to boredom. But I soon found that no matter how hard I tried to entertain her, the siren song of somnambulance was far too powerful to resist. Given her constant state of sleep, I took it upon myself to make some scientific observations regarding the nature of teenage sleep. Armed with my digital camera I snapped a few secret photos of her throughout her trip in various states of repose to aid in my investigation.

Let's start with Exhibit A (click any photo to enlarge it). I call this category of sleep The Murdered Maiden. This particular photo could easily be confused with a crime scene photograph right down to the half open eyes and uncomfortable twisting of limbs. Her right hand lies in an unnatural position on the floor and her head is pressed at an awkward angle against the arm of the couch putting her in perfect position for rescue breathing should such measures become necessary. I considered dripping ketchup on her head to enhance the murder victim effect of my photo but my sisterly affection for this sweetly sleeping lassie won over so just use your imagination. The Murdered Maiden is the most common yet the most fascinating of her napping poses. It displays her ability to adapt to any given physical situation or limitations.

In exhibit B we have the more classical sleeping posture which I call The Ruse. In this posture she is fully on a mattress covered with a blanket and sleeping sweetly on a pillow as most regular adults do. However, what you cannot see in the photo is that she is still fully clothed, has her cell phone tucked under the blanket by her head and her iPod speakers blaring out the latest and greatest in teen angst music. In the context of her sleeping capers of the week, this was actually the most rare position I was able to snap a photo of. I left her air mattress set up for her entire visit with an enticing set of blankets, sheets and pillows. She would rarely take the bait so I was thrilled to find her in this habitat during one of her many naps.

The Barely-Made-it Nap. Exhibit C is perhaps my favorite. Although she did make it to a bed for this particular nap, she was unable to fully pull herself completely onto it before passing out. Her sense of social responsibility is budding as evidenced by her attempted usage of blanket, pillow and mattress, however you may notice the upper corner of the bed is actually sheet-less, she remains fully clothed (all sleeping activity, day and night, took place in jeans) and a third of her body has no covers at all. There are the small but telling details of dirty clothes strewn about the bed surrounding her and the bedroom light still switched on. Of course, the foot hanging forgotten off the end of the bed gives her away as the classic teenage sleeper.

All in all, she is well on her way to becoming a socially responsible sleeper. Her creative usage of multiple types of sleeping positions is typical of most teenagers in their search for self. There is no telling which form she will ultimately adapt, but good evidence that she is progressing as best as could be hoped. It was a most enlightening visit.

12 comments:

ann-jell-a said...

Ha ha, that was great. I love the Murdered Maiden - it was very smart of Caroline to put herself in rescue breathing position! You are such a great detective/investigator/sister. :)

ambarwarrior said...

The pictures looked like a scene from CSI. Good thing you put a picture of her awake at first or people might get suspicious. . . .

Mamasita said...

Hooo-weeeh! Caroline is going to become the Murderous Maiden when she gets a load of this piece of journalism, which is one of my all-time, lifetime favorites. Oh, how I adore you, my little Sarah Spundah. You are the light of my liiiiiife! I'm a bit worried now, about coming to visit you. Perhaps you will do a special piece on double chins and wrinkled necks of 50-something year olds? That would never do! But oh, you are the BEST!

Sarah said...

mamasita, I've been planning a special expose post about women who let dogs lick their mouths. I think you'll find it very relatable.

Thanks for the gushing. It ALMOST makes up for the snooty comment on my last post. Almost...

By the way - a few people have wondered and NO - Caroline was really asleep in those shots and hasn't seen those photos. I'm checking my mail for anthrax.

Rrramone said...

Brilliance. I long for those days again. Alas. Hello Sarah, I'm a friend of your Mom's and Annie's. We went to Italy together a few years back for an art class. I love your writing! And that last comment exchange with your mom is priceless. :-)

Rachel said...

Hilarious! We have my 21 year old cousin staying with us right now, and although he's no longer a teenager, maybe he still qualifies since he's not married and in college. He can definitely sleep anytime, anyplace, but I haven't gotten around to documenting it. Thanks for the idea. I could probably do it, too, if not for my motherly responsibilities.

angela said...

I want to know what kind of air conditioning you have! For the past few weeks that Caroline has been here, South Pasadena has been sweltering! The second I get home from work, I crank up the A/C and remove as much clothing as possible...often rushing for cover if someone comes to the door (which rarely happens). So, Caroline in her jeans and long sleeved tee shirt make me sweat just thinking about it!!!!

Kaff said...

I love this post! I believe that you only put the "awake Caroline" photo up just so you could sneak in another photo of Penny. You are very tricky!

murdered maiden said...

oh you're just excruciatingly funny. really.

Laura said...

Have you ever considered becoming a prosecutor?

Samantha said...

I'm not quite sure how I know you...or maybe I don't. You commented on one of my blogs and I'm guessing from the context of your blog that you are a sibling of Bill's? Anyway I'm Kelsey's brother William's wife. The real reason for this comment is that this blog was really really funny. Cleverly done. Actually all your blogs are quite entertaining. Keep it up!
-Samantha

Junk said...

Hi, I am Kathy, Allison's sister-in-law and OLDEST - UGH - sister to Aaron. Anywho my sisters are all trying to make me have a BLOG and I tell them, I have no time! They insisted however I read your latest and I about died laughing. You are a great author and should publish something--seriously! By the by, why do the dates on the post say from two years ago???