Toddler Sleep Inertia

My in-laws brought the boys home yesterday afternoon. My toddler had fallen asleep in the car, like he often does on the 40-minute drive from their house to ours. He usually wakes up in our driveway disoriented and tantrum-prone. But yesterday was the worst I’d ever seen him.

He screamed for thirty minutes, not quite awake but clearly miserable. First his grandma tried sitting with him. Then I tried sitting with him. Then I carried him to his bed and sat outside the door, listening to his screams echo from the bedroom. He’d calm down for a few seconds before screaming again, each time sending a new wave of adrenaline crashing against my chest.