Pay Attention When they say ‘Tornado Warning’

First of all, before I say anything, obviously we are fine.

The potty training was stressing all of us out, Daniel, me, even my hubby who stayed home to work. I decided it was time for a change of venue and slapped a diaper on the kid, deciding to take him shopping and do some other errands so hubby can work in peace.We got as far as the library when, just as we were heading out the door, an announcement came over the PA system, urging us to go to the south side of the basement–a tornado warning has been issued for our area.

Now, being a Chicagoan, I’m no stranger to tornado warnings (had it been a tornado watch, I’ve probably would’ve freaked out a little more), and like a typical Chicagoan, I view them with a vague annoyance similar to being told it’s Groundhog Day–it’s there, people on TV like to remind you about it, but frankly you go about your life like any other day. In this case, I was a bit unhappy when they corralled us into the basement. Daniel loved it, though. To him, it was a grand adventure and a way to meet lots of babes. We stayed down there I think about 15 minutes before they let us up again.

Now you would think that common sense would tap me on the shoulder and say, “LaShawn, those clouds still look bad. Maybe you should stay at the library a little longer.” But I didn’t heed it. I was quite hungry, and I wanted to do grocery shopping so I could get home in time to cook dinner (yeah, another nono, shopping when you’re hungry. I was breaking a lot of taboos yesterday). So I strapped Daniel in and drove off, right into a long line of traffic.

As we slowly crawled along, common sense finally screamed in my ear, “Hey, that one huge cloud is moving awfully fast. And you hear that thunder? Don’t you think you better pull over? Now?

As I stared at the cloud, ruefully I realized I should’ve stayed at the library. But you don’t think about these things until you’re thick in the middle of it. I couldn’t go back to the library because we were just inching along on the street with hundreds of other people who were probably having the same sinking feeling I was. And there was no way we would make it to the store. I was finally decided to pull into a restaurant’s parking lot–thinking that Daniel and I could take cover there. We inched and inched, and finally crawled into the lot.

Just as the storm’s second wave hit.

Ever been in the middle of a horrific storm? Instantly, the world turned washed out, milky grey as sheets of water pounded over the car, rendering the wipers useless. We were trapped in the car…I did consider grabbing Daniel and running out–the restaurant’s entrance was just a few feet away–but the hail put a kibosh on that plan. Over the din of the ice, I yelled at Daniel, “Look Daniel, hail!”

“Hail!” he called back gleefully. The kid was having a blast. He never been in a car when this happened. I, on the other hand, was praying, “Lord, don’t let this car flip over. Please! Please!” It was terrifying…and strangely exhilarating at the same time to see all this awesome power roar over us.

I think in five minutes, or ten, the rain slowed down, I could see the restaurant again. Water was everywhere, pouring out the building’s gutters like a waterfall, creating tiny ponds in the middle of the street. Cars plowed through before realizing they were a lot deeper than they looked. I looked at Daniel and said, “Forget shopping. Let’s go home.”

Taking side streets and a lot of detours, we finally made it home just as the sun peeked through the clouds as if to say, “Hey, sorry about all that, but here–a marvelous sunset!” It was pretty, but I didn’t really spend time looking at it because I was wondering how to get to our house–our street had its own miniature lake, spreading from the entrance and sweeping over several driveways, including our own. I had to park at a neighbor’s down the street (who delightfully invited us in–thanks, Janelle!) so I could wait for the waters to go down.

My hubby had a grand time, though. He and a couple of other neighbors strode into the waters to make sure the drains didn’t get clogged up with debris–but I think hubby would’ve done it just to walk around in the 3 feet of water. All he needed was a large dog frollicking beside him. Sadly (or perhaps I should luckily), we don’t have a dog.

In a couple of hours, the water in front of our house disappeared.

Somewhere, there’s a lesson from God in all this. Certainly I am immensely humbled that he kept us safe throughout it. However, I know that all over the world, there are storms and floods worse than the tiny taste we got. Still, the fear I had was genuine. Next time, I’ll pay a little more attention when I hear a tornado warning.

There is one bright side to all this: While at the library, Daniel told me, “Pee pee.” I hustled him to the bathroom, where he actually did it in the big potty. Later, he did the same thing when we are at the neighbor’s house. And his diaper remained dry! It’s clicking! Despite my frustration and head-banging, somewhere in his tiny mind, he’s realizing that peeing in the potty is good.

Good thing he didn’t say “pee pee” in the car when the storm broke over us. I would’ve turned to him and said, “You and me both, kid. You and me both.”