I normally don’t allow my kids to watch the news on television, even though that’s how both my husband and I make our living. There are some things in the world I am just not ready to explain, so we usually avoid newscasts altogether.
Of course, all that changed this weekend. The threat of severe weather meant my photographer husband was at work, ready to respond to any damage reports. That left me at home with the children, and as the sky grew more ominous, I had no choice but to turn on WRAL and monitor the weather.
My kids were fascinated — they wanted to know what all the pretty colors on the map meant, and what was the difference between a watch and a warning. I casually answered their inquiries, all the while growing more concerned: Where was our radio? Did we have any C batteries? Mike Maze reminded the audience of what you should do when a tornado hits, and I nonchalantly made my way down to the kids’ hall bathroom, trying to clear out all the tub toys without alarming the children.
Emma called out to me whenever she read “Fayetteville” on the TV screen, and Eli was happy to oblige when I asked him to search his room for his play flashlights. Together, we listened for information and gathered what we needed. As soon as I congratulated them on a job well done helping Mommy, the power went out.
I never did find the radio, so I told the kids we would have to sit and listen to the wind. Both kids had participated in tornado drills at school, so they knew about getting on the floor with their hands tucked behind their head. We watched as the daylight all but vanished and the trees and bushes swayed with increased intensity. Emma suggested we pray, and as we finished, they was a sudden, thunderous BANG! Thunder. We went to the tub.
It was the first time the kids were scared, but thankfully, it was short-lived. We were in the bathroom without windows, but I kept peaking in the other room to see what was going on. Ten minutes later, it was daytime again. The threat was over.
Our family has talked a lot this weekend about how very lucky we were. Not watching the news has gone out the window; I want the kids to see what tornadoes can do, and how important it is that we prepare for severe weather. It’s hard for them to process the fact that other families lost their homes, and some people even lost their lives. They want to know what they can do to help, and that’s been a great way to talk about giving and being there for our neighbors.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the weekend storms. If you’re in Fayetteville and would like to help, please consider donating time or money to the Highlands chapter of the American Red Cross. Their number is (910) 867-8151.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom, usually on Tuesdays.