My favorite cartoon growing up was the Bugs Bunny opera appreciation episode. The one where Elmer Fudd wanted to “kill the wabbit.” Instead Elmer fell in love with Bugs dressed as a woman, right up until Bugs’ helmet and wig fell off. Then Elmer got real upset and summoned hellacious weather to smote Bugs for his duplicitous ways. North winds bwow and south winds bwow, “thunder, lightning, hu-wi-cane!!!” I always cry when lightning strikes and kills Bugs (not really…I mean, I really cry, but Bugs isn’t really dead.) There’s a lot going on in that cartoon, and perhaps we’ll dissect that later, but right now let’s focus on the fact that I think maybe this cartoon f*cked me for life. It’s the seemingly innocuous shit you have to look out for, people.
It’s just that I’ve racked my brain trying to determine WHAT makes me pathologically scared of lightning and this is the only thing that comes to mind. I do remember a storm once of the tornadic variety when I was a young girl in Indiana, but there was no lightning. There was a really bad lightning storm when I was 17, but I recall very clearly being unusually terrified even then. My parents’ house has been hit by lightning thrice! But we all kinda’ laugh about that.
It makes no sense. I very clearly recall seeing Jaws II in the theater. The result of that was reversed potty training, refusing to take baths in more than an inch of water, a fear even now that somethin’ ain’t right with the deep end of the pool, and an absolute affection and fascination with Great Whites that may actually get me killed one day. And I’m totally okay with that! What a way to go.
Lightning is a bullshit way to go, and I am terrified.
I’m told, though I don’t feel it, that in times of medical or similar emergency, I appear eerily calm. I feel like I’m frantic and screaming on the inside, but on the outside I’m methodical and in charge.
Under all circumstances my kids are taken care of first and their health and well being is my primary concern.
Unless there’s lightning. If you’ve seen me in a thunder storm, you know it’s every man or child for him or herself.
I know this, I’m ashamed to admit, because a couple years back we were watching my son’s baseball game when I thought I saw a flash. Everyone assured me it was a camera. But even a camera flash puts me on high alert, so I started paying attention. Sure enough, lightning in the distance, but they haven’t called the game. I start packing up my stuff because regardless, I’m about to yank my son off the field and get the hell out of there. FINALLY they call the game. I say very quick good-byes to friends and family, and tell the kids “LET’S GO!” By the time we make it to the parking lot it’s raining and lightning. I turn around, NO SON. I yell at my daughter “WHERE DID YOUR BROTHER GO?” she responds, “Back there.” More lightning. This is when I tell my daughter, “Go get him!” and get my arse in the car. Despicable, I know. I’m in no way proud. But I feel like the kids learned an important lesson that day. If mom says a storm is coming, get in the car… you get in the car ASAP or you get left. Babies, I’m sorry, mommy loves you, but you best hurry.
And don’t get judgey. Every parent has something. My mom once locked me in a room with a 3 inch tree roach because I didn’t follow fast enough and she wasn’t opening the door for fear the roach came in with me. I was pounding on the door screaming for my life. That roach looked hungry. (Note: I’m also NOT pathologically scared of roaches, though clearly, I have every reason to be.)
I have to say, my unconventional method for teaching lightning response to my children worked because shortly after that incident we had another baseball game storm. This time a friend of mine, a grown man mind you, came running over screaming like a girl, “Lightning! Lightning!” Stop the game!” This time my kids were at the car before me, which was fast because trust me, I was runnin’ like somebody was shootin’.
I bring all this up because we’ve had some serious lightning this week in Austin. Today we were at the pool when I saw lightning in the distance. I said, “Lightning Lezz Go.” And the kids knew “last one to the car is walkin’.”
When I got home, my friend texted that he was playing in the rain. Text lecture followed. You’re not Benjamin Franklin, get your kite and get inside, crazy. Then my husband texted me to take the kids out in the yard to see the double rainbow. My response was somewhere along the lines of “no fool, LIGHTNING!” He texted back, “it’s not that bad.” And I responded, “Bullshit.”
The only time my kids have ever seen me yell at their dad? When he acts nonchalant about thunderstorms. If the lightning doesn’t kill him, I will. If he acts a fool in a thunder storm, it’s on.
Looooove the weather. Haaaaate the lightning. My nerves…are shot.