A few months ago Story, my four year old, and I were on our way to get the older kids from school and found ourselves in a massive hail storm. I had been working in my Mammaws gardens and was covered in mud and dirt and sweat. The hail came down so thick and fast that I couldn’t control my car and pulled over. I was worried the glass in my windows would break. Story was screaming, horrified, “WE ARE GONNA DIE!” I climb over the seat leaving mud and dirt in my wake and I cuddle Story in my arms. All the while making a plan in case our windows break. I began looking around in my car for things to shield us from hail and making plans inside my head while outwardly soothing a screaming child with, “Its ok. We are ok. I’m with you and everything is ok.” We prayed that the hail would stop and in a few minutes it did. However Story’s fear of storms won’t stop. That evening my husband took a break and came home from work bc she wouldn’t stop crying for him. She talked about that storm to everyone for days after.
Now anytime there is thunder or lightening or strong wind she gets a little freaked out and wants to go home. I’m the mom that’s sorta like. Snuggle, love, hugs, we aren’t going home and you can deal with it. You can sit here in my lap and be fine. We oil her for fear and anxiety but beyond that we are a “suck it up buttercup” family.
I’ve slowly tried to get her over this fear. I’ve tried to get her to go outside with me on the porch during a storm. I’ve tried to talk about how storms are the way our plants get water and how our rain barrels are filled. She continues to freak out. When it thunders she wants to be home with a flashlight under her blankets in bed. She also likes all the doors locked. She likes to be the one that locks them too. If you tell her you locked them she’ll double check. She says, “it keeps the rain out.”
Today I made the ultimate choice to get in the rain and actually get wet in front of her. This was a massive rain storm and I was filthy and just stepped out into this little trickle from the roof. I took the shampoo outside. I wet my head as she stood in the door and started saying, “This is crazy….you are acting crazy….this is what a crazy person does.” Thunder, lightening, I turn my hair over into the trickle and get it sopping wet and suds it up. She continues, “You are not acting right…come in…please come in.” I say, “Look, nothing is happening….I’m fine….I’m washing my hair!” There I stood smiling at her furrowed brows. She said, “We have a shower you know? Like normal people!….just, just,….a tree is gonna fall on your head! A. TREE. IS. GONNA. FALL. ON. YOUR. HEAD.” I rinse the soap out and say, “Sweetie, it’s just water. It’s just like the shower only its outside”. She pleads, “No momma, no, please no”.
Her tiny face pinched in absolute terror and she begins to sob. That was it, end of experiment, I was done. I came in. She locked the door. I got cleaned up and we lay in bed snuggled like two cats. There are worse things in life than being terrified of rain storms. Plus, some day she won’t come to me with her fears. Someday I won’t be able to cuddle all her worries and woes away.
Someday….but today there is this kid and this blanket and this flashlight and today I’m magic and I can’t make it all better.