A few nights ago, a huge storm rolled through our area. Lightening continually lit up the sky, thunder constantly rumbled, and the windows and roof echoed from the heavy rain. Heavy thunderstorms are an iconic part of Iowa summer. And I love them.
When I was a small girl, my parents would wake us up in the middle of the night (or at least what felt like the middle of the night to me, but was in reality more like 10 pm) when thunderstorms would come through. They would have a bowl of popcorn and blankets by the window ready. We would eat popcorn while my parents taught up how to count, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, to see how far away the storm was.
Now, when thunderstorms arrive, I get that same comfortable feeling of being next to my parents, wrapped in blankets and counting the time between flash and boom.
As it turns out, my boys don't share these feelings.
As the storm grew into the night, Bug and Monkey grew more anxious. They started whimpering as bedtime approached, fearful of the thought of going to bed as lightening continued to flash and thunder continued to growl. Bedtime came and then went without us being able to calm their fears. Despite the repetition that they were safe and storms were exciting and fun, the anxiety continued.
I then realized that they didn't have the same context as I did.
So I gave up on bedtime. I popped a large bowl of popcorn, wrapped my pajama-ed boys in thick blankets and sat one on each side of me in front of our living room window. The sky was bright with the constant flash of lightening. The windows and house shook from thunder. I showed the boys how to count, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, gauging the distance of the storm. We ate warm buttered popcorn as we exclaimed over the pattern of bright, branching lightening bolts.
By the time the popcorn was gone, and the time from flash to boom had increased to 5 Mississippi, the boys were sleepy and calmer. We carried them upstairs and tucked them in bed, happy for the time we spent together and a little proud that we had helped calm their fears.
The storm continued throughout the night.
When I woke up the next morning, I found both boys curled up on the floor by my bed. Maybe I wasn't quite as successful as I had originally thought.