Tornado Just Fine

I warned my kids today, nineteen nonchalant 4th graders, that there was the possibility of a tornado warning during school today.

It won’t happen, at least not during school, I told them from the front. But I want you to be prepared, just in case.

And of course, it didn’t happen, at least not during school. We stood in the outdoor pick-up line in the spitting rain, laughing as we huddled under two near-superfluous umbrellas.

And then, thirty minutes later, I drove home with the window down, the sun shining hot on my knees. Sunglasses misplaced somewhere in my backpack, I swiped my arm randomly around in the backseat at every stoplight, hoping somehow to locate my bug-eyed shades. But no such luck.

Tonight though, we’re four in the house, three adults and the tiniest of three-year-olds, when the sirens begin to go off. I’m already in the basement, working on organizing the room I’ll soon leave, when the others appear at the top of the stairs; the professor clutching the towel-clad preschooler he’s just pulled from the bathtub.

And at first, it’s barely a warning, and we’ve dispersed again after a mere 20 minutes.

But then, not an hour later, there’s the sirens again, and now the whole family is home. Outside, the lightning flashes in the sky, now eerily and prematurely dark. So we gather once more in the basement TV room, six together, while the guinea pig rolls gently in his plastic ball in the hallway.

And the kids play Temple Run while we follow the storm’s path online. And we sit in the desk chairs, on the floor, on the couch, and conversation is light, sprinkled with laughter, as outside, the hail pounds the windows, plinking sharply off the cars in the driveway.

And then the professor and the new upstairs guest are playing FIFA, and we’re watching, working, joking, and the mother of the house- herself a professor- is reading aloud the weather updates, adding her own dramatic flair.

And the storm is wild, but not yet destructive, and we’re cozy, comfortable, tucked into the warmth of the basement, and it’s not at all how I imagined this evening might be. But with the safety of the house, the protection of its walls, and the safety of home and this McHenry family, our evening passed just fine.

~Natalia

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