Thy Name is Paranoia

Yesterday I decided not to take the kids to the pool (no, that is NOT a euphemism) because the weather report said there was going to be rain.

Instead we were watching a movie. Well – The Goon Squad was watching a movie, I was writing a post for one of my sites.

So I was deep in thought when I hear this terrible noise. I looked up from the monitor and glanced out the window.

It was raining sideways.

The trees were going crazy and it was loud. Not just rain loud, but scary noise loud.

I don’t know if I have been watching too much news or if The Wizard of Oz scarred me for life, but I immediately thought tornado.Wizard of Oz_tornado

I grabbed the kids and made them go into our “safe place”. We have a closet downstairs that is pretty much in the middle of the house. There are no windows and it backs up to a bathroom. Makes sense for a safe room right?

Here is the problem. I never got around to talking to my kids about tornadoes. We never talked about the safe closet and I was trying not to scare them. Not that they weren’t already ill at ease – the lights were flickering on and off, it was suddenly hurricaning outside and their mother was acting crazy and trying to make them get in a closet.

The whole episode didn’t even last that long. The storm blew by us after about 20 minutes and it took some trees with it leaving us without electricity. Everything turned out okay. As far as I know there wasn’t even a tornado near us yesterday but it scared me.

So afterwards the kids and I sat in the dark and talked about tornadoes and safe places. Through the glory that is my iPhone I was able to show them pictures.

They handled it well but I freaked myself out.

Last night I had a nightmare that a twister ripped through our house and I had to lay on top of my children to protect them.

Just when I think I am getting a hang of this parenting thing something like this happens and I realize I am completely clueless. How can I prepare my children for everything without making them paranoid lunatics?

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  1. JamesMommy says:

    Becoming a parent = enormous sense of vulnerability and a nagging sense of guilt for ???? :o) Glad to hear you guys faired (mostly) well.

  2. I think the thing about tornadoes that scares me the most b/c they also INTRIGUE me…
    The weather all over this country has just been crazy lately… I would have been freaked too

  3. I told Noodle if a person she didn’t know ever touched her, she should shriek as loudly as possible. That was kind of fun. I have never told her about tornadoes beyond the fact they are in The Wizard of Oz and Memphis, TN (I was working there and she asked if I was going to die by tornado – sweet kid). There are so many things, there is no point to explain anything other than than the top 20 things.

  4. Tornadoes are possibly my most feared natural phenomenon. I grew up in Chicago, and though they never happened where I was (too close to the lake, I think), we definitely had tornado drills in addition to fire drills in school. I still remember a nightmare I had about a tornado when I was like 8 years old. They freak me out!!

  5. I think the top 3 things to prepare them for are stranger danger, fires (how to get out of the house in case of), and how to call 911 in an emergency. I keep hearing about 2-year-olds calling 911 and saving their moms lives so that’s definitely on my short list of preparedness topics.

    I don’t think you can prepare them for every bad thing that could happen or they’d be too afraid to leave the house!

  6. The urge to protect ones children isn’t paranoia, it’s a natural instinct. We ran home when we saw the sky turn black yesterday (even me, the non-runner) and the closet was looking like a pretty good option.

    I was pregnant with Agent M when 9/11 happened and it completely changed they way I viewed protective measures. That was when I understood the air-raid drills I’d had as a kid in school. The urge to protect is fierce in a mom. Nothing wrong with that.

  7. Yeah…I was sitting on the 12th floor of a building in Arlington when that storm went through. I had some very grim tornado-related thoughts.

    I think the trick to not freaking out your kids is to not be freaked out yourself. Explain to them that they need to be prepared for certain contingencies, but do it calmly and stress that these things aren’t very likely to happen. They’re less apt to worry if they see that you aren’t worried.

  8. We all have our weak points. Tornadoes are mine, because I was home alone when one hit our neighborhood when I was a kid, and storms always freak me out now.

    I suppose the best way to prepare them is to have practice sessions – making it fun to learn about how to keep safe.

  9. Sarah, remember this: it’s not paranoia if the tornadoes really are out to get you.

  10. This year’s record number of tornados, even in places where they’re not common, prove that you’re not paranoid. You’re realistic.

  11. That’s a great question. We currently live in a state that rarely has tornadoes, but I grew up in a Tornado Alley in the Midwest. I survived a tornado when I was four. It was the most traumatic event of my childhood (and ever). I just wrote about it on my own blog this week, because when we were visiting my family in the Midwest a couple weeks ago, we had to run to the safe room when the tornado sirens went off at our friends’ house. That brought back a whole bunch of horrible and terrifying memories. :(

    I am a paranoid lunatic when it comes to tornadoes. But, I try to pretend to be calm and brave when talking to my 2-yr old about them. (I had to tell her what we were all doing in the basement room after yanking her out of her bed.)

    So, for now, I pretend. I pretend to be brave. I pretend to be calm, and I just hope to have good answers for her when she’s old enough to realize I’m shaking.

  12. Good question.
    My step son has become a worry wart..tornado’s, storms, earthquakes..all beyond his control. Wait until we have to explain the dangers of being out of eyesite of a parent and the bad people in the world, that is WAY more scary than a tornado.

  13. A very fine line between paranoid and prepared. They get more from the vibe we give off then anything we tell them.

    You wanna bust paranoid? Bust cool daddio.


  14. I can’t offer much advice on that one. I’ve put my poor daughters in my bathtub under pillows 3 times so far this year. (we live in TN)
    I try to use a matter-of-fact tone when discussing emergencies. So far, so good.
    One thing I never thought to tell my children because they only ride busses for school field trips: if you get on a bus and your adults don’t get on with you, start yelling at the driver. We went on our first trip to DisneyWorld at the end of May. My parents and aunt were watching my girls while hubby and I went on the most expensive dinner date known to man. The bus going to Downtown Disney pulled up, and my girls entered through the rear door. Not supposed to do that! The door closed before my parents and aunt were able to get on. Thankfully Dad is in shape and was able to run to the front door to stop the bus because both girls were just too freaked out to say anything. Cheez, when I think of all the things I haven’t thought to warn them about! I’ll spook them but good at bedtime 😉

  15. We have some friends whose daughter is terrified of tornadoes. So much so, that any old cloud sends her into a tizzy. To be honest, all the news lately has me pretty freaked out myself. I’ve been watching The Weather Channel like crazy this spring.

  16. I don’t think that you can prepare them for everything – especially since you don’t live in a place where tornados are all that common. You just have to do the best you can…and make sure that you always have the batteries of the Nintendo DS charged up!

  17. Sadly you can’t. We were in a head on collision with a drunk driver on Mother’s Day – physically my boys are okay but emotionally….my older one is still having issues. Just hold them tight as you can and tell them you love them.

  18. we showed our kids pictures of a tornado that came through our area in 1998… so then that backfired on me when we had to visit our safe place a couple of weeks ago for tornado sirens in our neck of the woods. my son was HYSTERICAL. but that is his nature.. a worrier..
    glad to hear you guys are good: )

  19. I’ve never talked too specifically about tornadoes to my girls either — but week before last, they held the kids at school due to a tornado warning that had been issued. Mimi seemed nonchalant about it all, but I was shaking in my boots at the thought.

    And yeah, that was some incredibly strong rain. We were watching it from the safety of indoors at work, and just seeing the rain sweep in sheets off the neighboring buildings was an amazing sight.

  20. I think there should be some fear, since those things are scary and they should know that. But then you could also tell them that they have sirens and weather alerts and if you see them comin’, you know to RUN AND HIDE! Tornadoes freak the hell out of me!

  21. Damn. That would have scared the hell out of me.

    My safe place is in the deepest part of my brain. When I go there it usually involves the fetal position and a little thumb sucking.

  22. Tornado terror freaked me PRE-twins, now, if I wake at 3:00am in the summer and it’s inordinately quiet (isn’t it always deathly quiet before a tornado?), I go rummaging over to hubby’s night stand, pilfer the remote and watch the red lower third warnings. Nice and healthful.

    Ever since the kids saw that friendly tornado in Elmo’s “Wild Wild West” they seem to think you simply ask it to leave and shut the door. For now, until I have to wake them because the red warnings/watches freak me to the point of mid-sleep bed to basement extraction, I’ll let them sleep blissfully.

    Paranoia, thy name is Parenthood.

  23. OMG there must have been something in the air last night because I had this total vivid dream about a tornado or hurricane coming and I was trying to get home but Jay was on a plane coming home from camp and they wouldn’t drive them home from the airport so we had to race the ‘whatever it was’ with all of it’s loud weird noises to pick him up. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind all morning.

    I would have been freaking out too. I keep trying to think of a ‘safe spot’ in our house but can’t come up with one aside from the tub in the main bathroom. Mmmm.

  24. You lived in freakin’ Tampa for how long? It’s the lightning capital of the world. We get squalls like that on a weekly basis. You couldn’t have been brainwashed by the folks up there already? (I do love how you turned “hurricane” into a verb. NICE!)

  25. my mom says that every night before i went to sleep, i would make her promise that 1) the house wouldn’t catch on fire 2) a tornado would not come, and 3) no burglars would come in. she says every night she would close my door, walk into the hallway and shake her fist toward…i don’t know, heaven, i guess…and tell god that he better make sure nothing happened, because she didn’t want me to think she was a liar.

    but, none of those things ever happened, so it was alright in the end.

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