The Midwest had a tremendous amounts of tornadoes yesterday; destruction and death were the buzzwords of the day. I grew up in a climate where weather is an important factor, but I’ve never experienced a tornado and, quite frankly, it’s not something I look forward to experiencing. As I was walking down to wait for J’s bus, the property manager bounced out of the management office and said “don’t blow away! We have a tornado watch…the TV started beeping!!!” I turned slowly and walked towards the office. Maybe I’m getting old, but I was calm and I decided to take the rational route. “What channel is it on?,” I asked…she was watching Dr. Phil or something along those lines. “Go to NOAA.gov or tune into The Weather Channel.” In my mind I started analyzing what I knew about our terrain, the history of the geographical area and what I was seeing in the map. “We’re fine. We have a Flash Flood Warning, but the river is at least a 100 feet below where we are, we should get some wind gusts and severe thunder, but there’s no risk of tornadoes right now.” I don’t know how I channeled Mr. Spock at that moment, but I did…and, leaving her and her assistant somewhat unimpressed with my analysis of the situation, I walked to the corner praying that I wouldn’t end up in a ditch 70 miles from home, carried away like Miss Gulch by the wind…
When the bus arrived, with a happy, bouncy J, I informed the driver and aide of what the weather was saying, told them to stay safe and call the depot. J and I hot-footed it home because of the copious amounts of rain that our umbrella couldn’t properly shield us from, but I made sure I didn’t convey “oh, crap, we’re all gonna die!!!!” to him. A quieter assessment of the situation using more than one source of information told me we’d be fine; the last tornado experienced in this area was in 1982 and it was in the flatter, less hilly side of town…farther out to the southeast. The river IS much lower than we are so I explained to TGG that, yes, we would have to worry if this turned into a Gabriel García Márquez book and it rained incessantly for eleven solid years.
In spite of the constant beeping of the TV, announcing all the weather warnings for our area, J remained calm and parked himself in his room. Yesterday there was very little by way of “I want this NOW” or “I demand THAT immediately!” One shoe has fallen…I am wondering if this is the prologue to an interesting battle of wits this weekend. I wonder this because J has been quiet, but not unpleasant; introspective, but less moody than in previous days. Perhaps, like a storm, he is gathering the winds about the center and getting ready to slowly progress towards us. Yes, that’s hurricane talk…that’s the kind of storm I can deal with because it gives you time to get ready.
I have experienced earthquakes…the ones that roll towards you, the ones that rock from side to side, the ones that bounce. After a while one gets used to that, to a degree. I have experienced hurricanes and tropical storms. I have experienced snow storms and severely low temperatures. I have witnessed severe drought, heat and sandstorms. I have also experienced J…I am, at this point, like the International Red Cross: I am ready for any disaster, but I don’t look forward to them.
Can I avert any crisis? I could, perhaps, attempt to, but I am suspecting (and I could be wrong) that this is one of those necessary tugs-of-war that we must engage in so that J can move ahead and reassess himself. I don’t think this is the sort of crisis that will provoke issues like we had in 2010. (I feel like one of those people who survived the Dust Bowl…like I have stories to tell so fantastic that they sound hyperbolic but they are 100% true.) I think this is one of those crises that are necessary for growth, emotional and intellectual, on the part of all involved.
That’s what I’m telling myself. J and I (we) must lock horns for a while so that we can figure out the next thing that’s going to develop. I am trying to be Spock-like, but I am feeling more like The Cowardly Lion. I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do! The specter of discontent and stress is looming ahead, lurking in corners…J is gearing up to mark his territory.
To prove this point I will offer an incident from this morning. J had dressed for school in clothes he, of course, selected without any assistance. We were finishing his ablutions when, suddenly, he jumped up and started motioning towards the closet. What, what, what? I asked, a little thrown off by the spontaneity and enthusiasm of his reaction. Opening the closet door, he first took out a long-sleeved thermal with stripes and motioned to his shirt. OK, I said, if you want to change, do it! Without further ado, J took off both shirts, put on the striped one and, balling up the ones he’d been wearing (and which were clean and only hung in his closet since night before) threw them in his laundry basket. He fished out his Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock t-shirt and put it on over the striped thermal. I simply smiled. I got the message: I have a right to change my mind.
After that, J was satisfied with his outfit, brushed his teeth (properly, too, like one who is saying “you gave in so I’ll do you one good turn now”) and headed downstairs to get ready. As I helped my husband with his tie, I thought to myself that yet another realization has dawned on J: he wants us to know that he knows he’s not a kid, that he knows he can choose, that he knows that we must negotiate in order for peace to prevail. I wonder how Henry Kissinger’s mother felt about her son’s talent for diplomacy. I sort of have an idea how Jim Carrey’s mom feels…and what The Three Stooges’ moms would have talked about if ever they’d hung out together.
So I am heading towards the weekend hoping J isn’t wearing another steel-toe boot…or cleats…I am hoping that he realizes there is a gentler way of driving mother up a wall and around a ceiling. I am hoping he is gentle with me…that the old adage of attracting more bees with honey still holds water… I am hoping Mr. Spock prevails and I don’t resort to running around going oh, my! over and over again…