On Sons & Thunderstorms

When my son was still wrapped up like a burrito, every time there was a thunderstorm, I carried him outside to the worn wooden bench perched on our front stoop, and, together, we sat and listened to the boomers.

As my burrito grew, he morphed into my l’il Monkey. Whenever we heard thunder or saw that first flick of lightning, we raced to the front door. He’d mastered deadbolts by then, and he turned the knob furiously as if the ice-cream truck were sitting in our driveway. Once outside, we piled on the old bench — my son sat on my lap, holding my hand with a combination of anticipation and fear while I counted: “One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand…”

And when the world shook, we laughed, and he begged for another so we waited impatiently for the next thunder-clap to shake our world.

For years we watched the skies darken, the clouds quicken, felt the air grow heavy on our skin. We listened to water slap our sidewalk angrily, and we both came to see how it works: how storms can be furious and yet temporary. He learned that even the scariest storms pass.

I know children who are terrified of thunder and lightning – kids who put their hands over their ears and cry or hide, but my son was raised up on late May storms: flashes of light and all that racket.

Maybe it’s because we imagined G-d taking a shower.

{The way my Monkey was starting to take showers.}

Maybe it’s because we imagined G-d needed to fill up the oceans.

{The way my Monkey was starting to have responsibilities.}

Maybe it’s because he imagined G-d stomping around looking for something He had misplaced.

{The way Monkey misplaced things and got all stompy and frustrated.}

Maybe it’s because he liked talking about G-d and trying to relate to Him.

“G-d makes rain. And rain makes the world grow, Mommy!” l’il Monkey told me as he stared at the yellow lilies, thirsty for a drink.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that with each summer storm, my summer-son was getting “growed up” too.

One May, I saw my son needed a new raincoat and boots for puddle stomping.

“I don’t need a coat. Or a ‘brella.” Monkey said as a matter-of-fact.

And he ran out into the downpour.

Unprotected.

Now I’m not saying it’s smart to go outside and run around on a lawn during an electrical storm, I’m just saying that we did.

We made up goofy dances, sang ridiculous songs, and chased each other around the yard in our bare feet until we were mud-spattered and drenched.

These days my little burrito is 13 years old.

We live in a different house with a less inviting front stoop. Plus, he’s gotten all teenager-ishy so we don’t really do the thunderstorm thing anymore.

One day, when I am an old woman and I hear the distant clatter of thunder, I will remember tiny yellow rain coats and tiny yellow rain-boots. I may not remember much else, but I will remember those little moments — perhaps as one long blurry moment — when the world turned chocolate pudding and everything was positively puddle wonderful.

What do you remember about thunderstorms? What little mommy-moments do you cherish?

39 responses to “On Sons & Thunderstorms

  1. Renee, this made me teary (and in desperate need of a hug from my toddler – he obliged).

    When I was a kid, once in a great while there would be a summerstorm, and my parents would watch my two older brothers and I run around in the warm rain in front of the house. (My mother, being very practical, would hand us a bar of soap.🙂 )

    • Hi Amber! I totally remember showering at summer camp during heavy downpours. I always forget that you have a little one because in your profile pic you look so young yourself. I’m so glad that your l’il one gave you that hug.😉

  2. I am so grateful that you re-posted this. I completely missed it yesterday. I can honestly say that it made me tear up. I am sitting in front of my class…ummmm grading papers and reading your blog and all of a sudden my face gets warm and my eyes moist.
    My little monkey is 3 and we are just starting to have these same experiences…showers, responsibilities, etc… I sat here and read about your Monkey about to turn 13 and my heart aches…for the unknown that lies ahead. What will we encounter together? Will he still love and cherish me at 13? 20? 30?
    Thank you for being so real.

    • I’m so glad you came back. I just love this piece so much, and I hope David isn’t furious at me for reposting it here. I worked so hard on it, and I didn’t get the feedback I was hoping for.

      I’m glad it tugged at your heartstrings.

      I think it was National Teacher’s Day on Tuesday. I hope someone did something wonderful for you.

      And of course your wee one will still love you Boys love their mammas!😉

  3. Ricky Anderson

    Beautiful, Renee.

  4. dianewordsmith

    Renee,

    This is such a lovely story, and I so enjoyed reading it. I’m sorry you haven’t gotten much comment love here. I read your related post and know how it feels when you pour your heart into a post and response seems tepid at best. Congrats on being named Adjunct of the Year and receiving positive feedback from a student! We all need to hear encouraging words periodically; I’m glad that some positive ones came your way just when you needed to hear them.

    • Thanks Diane.

      It’s just been one of those rough weeks.

      I actually posted the piece on someone else’s blog. I hope he is not furious that I reposted, but it’s like making a lovely cake and then standing there watching while no one comes to eat it. Honestly, it’s never happened before, so I wondered if it was the religious content or just the fact that someone had to push another button to get to someone else’s blog to read it.

      Anyway, it’s amazing how words of encouragement can give a person the courage to survive the rest of the ride. I think you did that for me today.😉

  5. Hi Renee! Okay, you know I read your blog almost daily, but that I rarely post (yes, I’m a lurker). I DID actually click on over to David’s page and did read your piece there. And it was beautiful. And I was trying to think of something to say regarding thunderstorms, or memories with my kids, or something, but just didn’t. Plus, I’m always doing this at work, and, well, you know I probably shouldn’t be doing that! Congrats on your honor! And I’d love to hear the tale of why you can’t have your Friday evening dinner where you had planned! Have you checked your local parks with nice lodges to see if any are miraculously available?

  6. Catherine Johnson

    Renee that is beautiful! X

  7. (sigh)

    Tiny feets in rain boots. My heart is all melty.

  8. This is love, right here. I reckon you oughta print it out and put it under his pillow. *Wipes mushy tears away*

    • Thanks Liz. Meanwhile, Tech lost a tooth tonight. I think he’d rather have the bucks.

      But.

      I’ll hold onto this for when he is older.

      Maybe one day he’ll get how he is my puddle wonderful. I hope. You think?

  9. Aww, this is so touching! I forgot about the counting between the lightning and thunder. Thank you for reminding me! Also, I think it’s beautiful how you connected what your son was doing, developmentally, to what G-d could be doing. When my guys are older, I’m totally doing that. Love it.

    • We always did that when he was young. I can’t believe he’s about to make his bar mitzvah. Forty-five days to go. Unless my math is wrong. Which it probably is.

      On that day, I’d like to request a little less puddling and a little more sunshine.😉

  10. Lovely piece, encompassing past, present, and future. And great picture at the start.

  11. If I became disappointed every time someone didn’t comment or like a post of mine, I would have quit blogging a long time ago! By the way, I really liked your post, and I love English teachers!

  12. This was beautiful. When you were describing the reasons for the thunderstorms and how they related to your son’s development, I felt pangs of…I’m not sure, anger/regret/guilt (?) that my husband and I aren’t raising our girls with more of a spiritual focus. I remember growing up and being told that thunder was heavenly bowling and lightening was when someone got a strike. It was such a comforting thought to a little kid. My husband would want me to explain the electronic fields and pressure systems. That’s going to be a problem because 1.) I don’t know anything about those things and 2.) I don’t find them particularly comforting.

    He and I may just need to have a talk today. Thanks for being my catalyst for action!

  13. That made me nostalgic for the summer thunderstorms of my own childhood; the kind of memories you made with your son are some of my fondest from when I was a kid! Thanks for sharing.

  14. I can “feel the love” in this post! Nice job.

  15. Beautiful post! You know I comment on almost everything, but I must have missed that you were somewhere else posting. And remember, this is that busy time of year for most people…year-end recitals, performances, field trips, parties. I, for one, am having a hard time keeping up with all my blog reading while boosting my own site. In fact, I’ve finally just posted my own blog in a few weeks.

    I love, love, love your blog though. I can just imagine your lil monkey sitting there all excited, awaiting the next clap of thunder. Reminds me of my lil monkey (who is almost 21…and still does this, by the way) dancing outside. She was singing, “Singing in the rain” at the top of her lungs and “tap dancing” Still have those pictures. Love these moments of parenthood!

    How’s the Bar Mitzvah planning?

    Carrie

  16. Love, love, love this post. Thank you.

  17. What beautiful memories! Amazing picture by the way. Could be a book cover.

  18. Pingback: One and Done Sunday #17 | JM Randolph, accidentalstepmom

  19. I love this! Thunderstorms are my personal favorite. And I like to believe, when 13 becomes 30, he’ll be jumping in puddles with his own burritovb

  20. I love this. And teenager-ishy fades. He’ll remember, and maybe bring his own summer child out into the storms someday, too.

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