The boom of thunder and flash of lightning woke me. Rain pounded the windows, and lightning pierced the darkness. I laid there listening to the storm, added my observations about the storm to my Facebook page along with other storm comments about electrical outages and upset children.
Been through a storm or two with children. Our daughter was three the night thunder loudly smashed over us and startled her awake and scared her so much that she ran crying to the safest place in the house: mom and dad’s bed. I patted her on the back. She snuggled in for the night. I thought we had settled it.
The next time the thunder clouds rolled they were many miles away. Nonetheless, I heard a terrified cry erupt in her room. I ran to comfort her. She settled down and, after the storm waned, she fell asleep. For the next couple months the noise of any heavy rainstorm would wake me on high alert mode awaiting the inevitable explosion of tears and screams from the bedroom down the hall.
I am not fond of screams in the night or the daytime. And yes, even daytime thunderstorms when wide awake terrorized that child. I thought it would pass. I thought she would adjust to the repitition of the sky’s loud, noisy show.
She didn’t. The rain and thunder startled her and sent me into a defensive mode to find some way to calm and soothe her because, I admit, this was not my favorite part of parenting. Once or twice fine, I could deal with it happening every time for months on end. I had had enough. The tipping point came as we drove in town one afternoon when a heavy summer storm broke. From the back seat I heard the gasp of fright.
“No, no, no, you have it all wrong. This is fun!” I insisted. “When it booms you yell back as loud as you can. BOOM! BOOM!”
She stopped crying and looked at me.
“Give it a yell.” I encouraged.
Drenching rain covered the car. Puddles formed along the road.
“Lots of rain and noise means lots of fun,” I said and aimed for the puddle on the side of the road. “Whee! Look at that splash!”
Between the tears a smile tugged at her mouth.
“Rain! And thunder!” I exclaimed. “Look outside. See the lightning? Smile, God’s taking your picture.”
She looked and listened as I exulted in the storm.
The next time we sat on the porch sprayed with a mist of rain as the storm roared around us. Another time we stood at the patio window in awe of the wind sweeping the trees around.
Yes, bad things can happen in a thunderstorm with heavy winds. Still it is quite a show of unscripted movement, noise and water so we may as well enjoy it. The electricity went out? Time to pull out those dozen candles up on the shelf for a night of shadowy fun and conversation, or go to bed early since no electronics or lights exist to interfere with sleep.
It took a while, but after that fun ride in the rain yelling at the noisy clouds, I no longer heard cries of terror in the night when a thunderstorm hit. The night she slept through a storm, I knew she had conquered her fear. The day she ran to watch the turmoil in the backyard caused by the rain, I smiled, picked up my book and enjoyed the stillness of an electric-free house and the sound of rain on the roof.