I have a complicated relationship with thunderstorms. They used to be so much more simple than they are now. As far back as I can remember, I have adored them. I even bought a tape of nothing but the noises of a storm and I’d lay in my bed and listen to them and doze off in a peaceful bliss. My heart actually leaps with joy when I hear that first rumble of thunder.
But now I have this wonderful blessed young man in my life. He is brave and energetic and funny and cute as a button. And he is terrified of thunderstorms. Utterly and without question. The look of panic on his face as he presses his hands against his little ears is enough to break my heart. Beyond his fear is the problem that if the storm occurs at night (and I swear 90% of all storms seem to pass through here sometime between midnight and 6 am), I won’t get any sleep.
But deep down inside, I still love the sound of thunder and rain pounding on the roof. So when it rained recently, my reaction was much as it usually is now. First, my heart gave a little leap of excitement and anticipation and then even more quickly plummeted to my stomach as I tuned my ear to the bedroom across the hall.
I heard some whimpering and thought I’d go in there instead of waiting for him to hurry into my room. But to my surprise, he was not in his bed. I finally found him in the top bunk with his brother, hands pressed tightly against his ears.
“It’s ok, Hal. Come here.”
He tried to resist until he realized I wasn’t going to pull his hands away. Then he tumbled rapidly off the side of the bed and wrapped his legs tightly around my waist. I began to lay (because there was no hope of separating us) down on the bed.
He cried out, “No! I don’t want to lay in my bed!”
“It’s ok. I’m staying here with you.” He relaxed. A tiny bit.
And so we lay there, wrapped exactly how we were when I was standing. He had an arm and a leg under my body and I began to worry they would go numb under my weight. As I shifted myself free, he began to fret again.
“I’m not going anywhere. It’s ok.”
I lay there listening to the thunder as the storm moved away. I tried to stay in touch with the joy I feel hearing it and tie it with the joy I felt holding my special little boy. When I had gone several minutes without hearing any thunder, I extracted myself from his limbs.
“It’s ok now. The storm has moved on. You can go back to sleep now, sweetheart.”
I sincerely hope he gets over this paralyzing fear, both for his sake and for mine. But in the meantime, I’ll do my best to enjoy the midnight cuddles from a child that still needs me.