This past weekend, our area of the country expected severe storms. Atticus, a wanna-be meteorologist, watches the Weather Channel with intensity. As tornadoes swept across Texas and Mississippi, he watched videos of the damage with feelings of despair.
I blocked the Weather Channel last summer because Atticus liked to watch shows like “Tornado Alley” and “Top Ten Worse Tornadoes.” Anytime the clouds turned gray in our city, he was convinced a tornado would strike and kill us all. Every. Single. Time. Even if it was just a sprinkle. I thought if I took those shows away from him, it would help his anxiety.
But by blocking the channel, I not only prevented him from watching those fear-inducing shows, I also took away his ability to learn about weather. This kid lives for weather radars and maps. He begged me for a second chance. And after months away from the Weather Channel, and their doomsday programming, I relented and welcomed their programming back into our home a couple of weeks ago.
Then came last Sunday.
He had been glued to the weather forecast for days. The storms were set to hit our area around 5 p.m. Around 1 p.m., the freak-out began. The weather outside our door was beautiful – mild with sunny, blue skies. The sun, he argued, only makes the air more buoyant. We MUST GO TO THE BASEMENT NOW!! WE MUST PROTECT OURSELVES!!
I tried to calm him, but he ran upstairs to his bedroom. I heard a lot movement up there, so I went up to see what was going on. I found my thin, frail looking child pushing his full-size mattress toward his bedroom door. “What are you doing?”
“I’m taking the mattress to the basement. We need to cover ourselves.”
“You are not taking that mattress to the basement! Put it back!”
He argued with me for several minutes. “The tor-con is 4!! I’m trying to save you!!”
While I appreciated the gesture, he was, as usual, over reacting. We were four hours away from the predicted storm. He was too far ahead of the anticipated action. But telling Atticus not to worry about the storm until it gets here doesn’t compute. The time to panic is NOW!
He finally realized he wasn’t going to get the mattress by me and started to put it back on the box springs. I took a couple of pictures of the process. Why not? I thought it was funny. He wasn’t laughing. He didn’t find any of it humorous.
After putting the mattress back, he took his pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals to the basement where he broke down and cried. So much stress surging through his young body. No amount of rational conversation could calm him. He remained on edge for hours. 5 p.m arrived, but the storm didn’t. 6 p.m. and still no storm. At 8 p.m. he realized the storm wasn’t coming our way as predicted. It missed us completely.
As we prepared for bed that evening, he said, “Boy, I panicked over nothing.”
“I hope you learned something today. Are you going to stay calm the next time we are expecting storms?”
I think I have to block the Weather Channel again.