It occurs to me I haven’t written about Jax in a long time, so I have to tell you about his obsession with thunderstorms, and maybe commit to sharing a funny or adorable Jax story on a more regular basis. There are, after all, zillions from which to choose.
Jax has always been a little jumpy about thunder. A couple weeks ago, it started thundering while we were eating supper. Our kitchen table is directly in front of a big bay window overlooking the back yard, with woods behind it, so we started to see some lightning and the first drops of rain. I checked my weather app and sure enough…
“Oooo, punkin, we’re gonna have a thunderstorm!” I tried to get him to be excited, but he looked worried. Instead of letting him worry, I said, “Come on, let’s go on the porch and watch the storm.” He looked confused because, uh, mom, we’re eating and I haven’t finished my peas yet… But he came with me, too curious to protest.
I sat him on my lap and waited for the inevitable lightning. When we saw it zig zag right across our line of sight, Jax jumped, visibly nervous. I said, “Now listen for the thunder.” We heard it after only a few seconds. I explained to him that you always see lightning first, then hear thunder, and that you can tell how far away the storm is based on how much time passes between what you see and what you hear. The next time we saw lightning, he didn’t jump, and we counted until we heard the rumbling, which was getting louder and longer each time.
My dad did this with me when I was little. Once we were riding in his truck along the ridge between my grandparents’ country farmhouse and our little town, and a storm started. My dad pointed out the darkening clouds blowing overhead, and we saw some spectacular lightning while he explained about counting the seconds as miles. If you’ve never raced a thunderstorm from the top of a mountain in a speeding, windows-down Chevy pickup, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I always remembered that storm because it’s the one that made me not be afraid of them anymore. Yes, it was awesome and fierce, but I really saw it, with all my senses, for the first time. After that, they didn’t seem so scary.
The rain started lightly falling in our backyard, melting Jax’s fear of storms into fevered enthusiasm. He kept yelling, “Look mom, there’s the lightning again! I hear the THUNDER!”
Then he grew quiet and just listened. After a bit, he leaned back into me and whispered this beautiful thing: “Mom, the thunderstorm is a song.” Oh you little poet, you.
We sat there for a good 15 minutes before I finally had to pick him up and carry him in to finish those (re-heated) peas before treating him to a little bowl of cookie dough ice cream. (Oh, warm and green weather, how I’ve missed you.)
“Mom, it’s ok if we have a storm tonight while I’m sleeping. The thunder lives in the sky and can’t come down into my room to get me,” he explained, authoritative in his new knowledge.
And it’s just a song, I thought.
Jax has talked about that night every single day since, usually immediately preceding an urgent request that I check my phone to see if we’re going to have a thunderstorm. He talks about thunderstorms to anyone who will listen, or when he’s not also talking about the Cars 3 movie coming out in June (“Mom is it June yet?”). I recently went on a train trip for work and while waiting for a transfer, I found a car from the new movie in the Harrisburg Amtrak gift shop. It was a new character named, get this, Jackson Storm. I couldn’t buy it fast enough, and it’s his new favorite thing of all the things that ever thinged, because storms, because cars and Cars, because his name, because thunder and lightning and Lightning McQueen, and because, I think and hope, teaching through showing makes him less afraid, and nature is awesome.