Living in the midwest strong, violent storms are pretty common place. Spring rolls around and brings with it the thunder, lightning, heavy down pours and sometimes even tornadoes. A late afternoon darkening of the sky with the rumble of thunder off in the distance is a fairly frequent occurrence once the daytime temperatures begin to rise. I’m used to it. My kids are used to it, and aren’t afraid of a little thunderstorm. We take weather warnings seriously, as tornadoes are scary, but we enjoy a good thunderstorm every now and then.
A few weeks ago Maya’s class learned all about weather, specifically spring weather. And, since we live in prime thunderstorm/tornado territory that meant a little discussion on those types of weather activities. They have fire drills and tornado drills at her school from time to time. She knows what the tornado sirens going off means. Up until recently the sounds of the thunder crashing, the trees blowing in the strong winds and the distant sound of the tornado siren didn’t cause any unrest. A few times we’ve found ourselves in the basement as a precaution but it didn’t bother her. Until this past weekend that is.
This past weekend saw some strong storms in our area. There was a lot of property damage and sadly someone lost their life as a result of the storms. We were lucky as the bulk of the violent weather was to our north and we didn’t get much more than some loud thunder and heavy rains. For the first time since Maya learned about tornadoes and has had tornado drills at school we heard the sound of the tornado sirens. She was in the bathtub at the time covered from head to toe in shampoo and soap. As the sounds began to register with her she quickly went from playing calmly in the bathtub to having a full on little panic attack. She was breathing funny, crying and shaking. I spoke calmly to her and quickly rinsed her off. After checking the weather on my phone I decided we’d better head downstairs for a bit. So down the stairs I went carrying a fussy baby who just wanted to go to bed already and holding the hand of a little girl in a panic. Fun times.
By the time we got downstairs the sirens were no longer sounding and after checking the local radar on my laptop I decided we were fine to head back upstairs. Maya had luckily calmed down and the weather outside was much calmer, just a few faint rumbles of thunder and some rain remained. I settled Maya on the couch with her blankie and a movie while I put Anna to bed (Lorne was out of town enjoying a boys weekend). Later we spent some time talking about storms and tornadoes and why we head downstairs when we hear the sirens. She was much calmer and seemed to understand, mostly anyway, she did ask several times if a twister would cause our house to be pulled of the ground and blown all the way to Oz!
Turns out if a child learns just a little about violent stormy weather and that knowledge is coupled with what she learned from watching the Wizard of Oz it can turn her into quite the chaotic, panicky mess when the tornado sirens go off! Who knew :/
Off to the library we go to learn a little bit more about storms and to hopefully calm her nerves a bit.