In January 2007, St. Louis had a massive ice storm. Lee was out of town that weekend (naturally – don’t crazy things always happen when your husband is out of town?) and I was alone with a then 3 year old Sloan and 11 month old Tia.
In the dead of night, ice fell from the sky in frigid sheets, layering already weak trees (as it was the second big ice storm of the season) with several pounds of frost. About 4:00 that morning, I awoke to realize that the power was out and the house was very cold. Outside my window, I heard a pop and saw a flash of blue and realized a transformer had just blown.
And then I heard the sickening crunch of a tree branch slicing through our roof (it didn’t come into the house, thankfully, but went through the over hang barely a foot from where my bed lay).
It was then that Sloan woke up and raced out of his room exclaiming – “Mommy, blue monsters are throwing ice at our house!”
Then we looked out the window to see a crazy mess with downed trees and branches all over our yard, driveway and roof.
And from then on, my child was altered forever more. He became terrified of storms. The tiniest flash of lightening sends him into a frenzy and with a rumble of thunder he begins nervously talking a mile a minute, his panicked voice reaching ear piercing decibles.
He is equally obsessed with the weather. I assume it’s because he is trying to keep his enemy close, but he loves to read books about tornadoes and hurricanes, tsunamis and floods. I’ve caught him on more than one occasion watching the weather channel and he frequently gives me updates on the weather in different parts of the country.
“Hey mom, did you know Florida is having a tropical storm? That’s like a hurricane only it’s not really a hurricane. Good thing we’re not there, huh?”
So, it was with great terror that we got caught in a doozy of a storm on Saturday. I had taken the kids to buy Halloween costumes (another story for another day but seriously – costumes are ridiculously overpriced. Why have I never learned to sew!?!) and we were on our way home when literally out of nowhere the heavens opened and released with great fury, directly over my (hot) minivan.
As a bolt of lightening streaked across the sky, Sloan yelped from the backseat, “Mom! Lightening. We gotta get home now!”
“I know, honey, I’m trying,” was my reply. To which I heard, “Hey mom. I’m pretty sure a tornado is coming so if you see it, you have to turn the car around and rive away from it.”
Me: “Okay, babe, I got it.”
Sloan: “Mom. In case a tornado does come and we get sucked up, cover your head with your hands to protect it.”
Me: “We’re not going to get sucked up, Sloan.”
Sloan: “But we might-”
It was then that the hail started. Large balls of ice began pelting my car along with alligator size raindrops reducing my visibility to almost 0. It was loud and ferocious and I found myself lamenting the fact that for years I’ve been praying that a hail storm would center itself over my house so insurance would cover a new roof and instead it was centered over my defenseless (but hot) minivan.
And over the racket of the storm this is what I heard in the backseat:
Tia (with her hands squeezed over her ears): I’n stewrd mommy! I’n woody stewrd.”
Landon (looking around with furrowed brow): “Woooowww!”
Sloan (eyes so wide they threaten to swallow his face): “HAIL MOMMY. HAIL MOMMY! HAIL! MOMMY! WE’VE GOT HAIL!”
Me: “It’s okay, it’ll be over soon.”
Sloan: “JUST PRAY TO GOD MOM! PRAY. TO. GOD!!!”
Me: “You pray, I’ve got to drive.” (Mind you we’re shouting at one another because the noise is deafening)
And in the rearview mirror I watch my 6 year old fold his hands and press them to his forehead beseeching God to rescue us from what he sees to be imminent death by thunderstorm.
And the whole situation strikes me as so funny that I start cracking up, as I sometimes tend to do when I’m nervous or upset, whilst all along keeping my eyes firmly glued to the barely visible red tail lights of the car in front of me.
Then, two miles up the road, the clouds in the sky parted, giving way to nothing more than a light drizzle. I look back in the mirror at my shell shocked crew and find Tia still has her ears covered and eyes closed, Landon is grinning from ear to ear and Sloan looks utterly amazed.
When he catches my eye, Sloan slowly grins, then pumps his fist in the air. “That was awesome!” he exclaimed. “That was the big one and I wasn’t scared at all.”
And that, my friends is the story of the day we survived the ‘big one’. All it took was a few “Hail Mommy’s” and a prayer.