September 20, 2004

Tornado Trauma

I told you a month or so ago about Jenna's storm phobia. Tornados specifically. Well, as you can imagine, she's been going through some forced behavior modification - exposure therapy real-time - courtesy of Frances and Ivan the last couple of weeks.

Although we're one state up from poor Florida, we get the afterglow, so to speak. Mostly, in Georgia, that's spelled t-o-r-n-a-d-o.

I was careful not to scare jenna into a frenzy last week by mentioning too much about the bad weather that was headed our way. I made sure she knew about hurricanes--just enough. And that it would get windy around here and rainy too. But not bad. We're safe. Blah blah. I left out the "T" word on purpose for fear of sending her under her bed for the duration.

That worked pretty well until they had a tornado drill in school.


Yes, a tornado drill.

I had the distinct pleasure of being at the school for the tornado drill, since I was making a volunteer appearance in Jenna's class helping stick glue all over myself and sixteeen children. That wasn't the end goal of the craft project, but I was good at it.

Peeling tissue off glued finger tips, I heard: BING BING RING RING BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

The teacher announced the tornado drill--it was obvious she knew it was coming and that she'd mentioned it to the class as well, because they jumped only half way up the walls.

We all filed out, and the children took their places against the walls of the hallway, heads kissing asses goodbye. I remembered that particular useless pose from the air-raid drills when I was a kid. At least when we were that little, they let us get under our desks.

I'm standing in the hall looking at these poor kids who were squeezing their heads until they tipped over, when I hear a teacher actually tell the kids: "Cover your brains with your hands, now."

Cover your brains? HOLY! Are you insane lady? Do you know how many nights of explaining to my kid that little phrase is going to cost me?

Instead I turned to the maintenance guy who I enjoy cracking up and said:

"They look like sitting ducks to me, Jim." He cracked up.

My poor kid.

She didn't move a muscle during the entire 9-minute drill.

Her head was burried so far into that carpet that when she finally got up she had fiber indentations on her forehead and knees for an hour. If there were a blue ribbon--or a promise of tornado survival--for the kid with the best duck and tuck position, she would have won hands down.

Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way.


At the grocery store today, jenna said: "You know mom, I was doing fine in school that day you were there for the art project. I was minding my own business, feeling so much joy, just relaxing and liking what I was doing, and then the teacher had to say the words 'tornado drill' and I felt all throw-uppy."

So young to feel yanked from the joy of a quiet moment--from "joy" to "throw-uppy"--so quickly.

And so young to be able to tell me about it.

She turns seven on the 30th.

My goodness.