I grew up in earthquake country. On the first day of Kindergarten in Mrs. Rogers’ Devonshire Elementary room, we practiced the ‘Drop’ drill where all the kids got down on the floor and held on to the backs of their necks. The other kids giggled, so I giggled too.
After lunch, we learned not to tinkle on the tiles and the ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ drill in case we caught on fire.
That evening, I went through the bedtime routine: I pretended to brush my teeth, I put on an oversized t-shirt, and I only tinkled a little bit on the tile next to the toilet. I walked down the hall and I began to panic. What if there was an earthquake while we slept? What if there was a fire? What if I caught fire?
My heart raced. I didn’t tell my parents or siblings of my fears. I squeezed my eyes tightly and counted the seconds until sleep overtook me and I awoke whole.
As I grew and learned of new world evils, I thought of more things as I walked down the hall to bed: What if we were robbed at night? What if I was kidnapped? What if I got AIDS?
I dreaded going to bed from my first day of Kindergarten until I was about 34 years old when I started sharing my bed with my wife and had to put on a brave front. My fears were always unfounded.
Last Saturday, we put Zach to sleep in the Pack-n-Play in the basement. The weather service said a storm was coming and tornadoes were likely. He went to sleep about 9. An hour and a half later, the tornado watch turned into a tornado warning and my wife and I went downstairs also. Because there are windows in our basement, we woke Zach up and went to the bathroom.
We tracked the storm as it touched down in Wichita and came closer. It hit our corner gas station. And then the power went out.
We heard sirens and the roar of the storm. Zach whined and fidgeted in the tub. He tried to turn the water on. We played trucks and we sang songs, candlelight flickering around.
Time passed again. The sirens stopped. We put Zach down and slept in the basement. The power came on a few hours later. We checked the path of the tornado. It had missed us by less than a mile. Zach cooed from his Pack-in-Play. We took him out and, for the first time, he climbed the stairs, unaware the night held anything but fun in the bathtub.