Growing up in the Midwest, I learned at an early age: When the wind stops and the air becomes eerily still and the sky turns algae-green… you head to the basement. There isn’t a childhood summer I can recall that didn’t hold at least one trip to the cellar; thankfully, none ever amounted to a significant disaster.
I write this on a Tuesday afternoon during the remnants of a tropical storm, with trees and leaves and rain swirling in a chaotic wind. It’s not unfamiliar to me. I’m fully aware I might need to head to the basement before it’s all over… and I realize the thought doesn’t scare me – because my parents taught me to believe I can be safe in the storm, and I’ve grown up believing it to be true.
It was less what they verbally told me as a child and more what they exampled to me. They’d be calm in a storm. So, I learned to be calm. They had a knowledge about it all; they knew what to do and they did it. Their assuredness gave me a sense of peace and order. And then when it came time to simply wait it out, they found ways to make it pleasant, even memorable.
To think I’d actually look back with fondness on those hours of waiting out a storm together… as a parent, I now realize that is a major parenting win.
There were storms that left hours of work in their wake. Storms that left us without power, water, heat. Storms that did damage. But over time I learned all those things were, if not fun or convenient, fixable.
And therein lies the key I’ve learned to helping a child believe she’s safe in any storm – meteorological or otherwise: showing her that no matter what, she is. Because you’ll stay calm, you’ll figure out what to do as it comes, and you’ll find ways to make it pleasant, even memorable. And because you will, so will she.
(Writes the grown girl who, upon posting this, successfully is weathering yet another storm… Because my parents showed me how, way back when.)