My heart goes out to all who have suffered losses due to Hurricane Irene. One of my favorite songs says, “Smile, though your heart is aching.” It is in this spirit that I hope what I’m going to write will bring a smile to your face.
I wanted to share the amusing nickname my husband came up with for ourselves in light of the workout our toddler has been giving us lately: “tornado chasers.” At my organizational low points, I am sometimes affectionately known as “Hurricane Lauren.” It seems my daughter comes by it honestly. I never know where she is going to touch down and make a little mess, or perhaps if it’s one of her real twister days, to turn the place upside down. Anything could be lurking in that knee-high pandemomium of construction paper; dolls whose faces have been “improved” with black crayon scribbles, Lady Gaga style; books chewed on as a baby, and now lovingly torn because that ripping sound is so exciting, and god knows what else. It could be alive. One misstep, and you might twist an ankle. You might totter, then fall on your face like a felled mighty oak, brought down by the worthless toy cast aside from the MacDonald’s Happy Meal.
All this makes it very difficult to chase after a “bolter.” The term left me a little cold the first time I heard it, because it nailed so perfectly my daughter’s behavior. She is a bolter, and we, the parents who chase after her, are too by necessity.
Unlike my grandmother, whom I’m told had two speeds: slow and off. If I were my grandmother, I would not be running after my daughter. It’s just not ladylike and it musses the hairdo you just had fixed at the beauty parlor. I would be strolling at a leisurely and respectable pace, one appropriate in front of the company that might arrive at any moment. And while I would be strolling, my daughter could be doing anything, such as rewiring the mass of cables behind my desk. Perhaps eating cat food. But that would only be discovered upon my leisurely, and somewhat dramatic, entrance, when Leilani would be caught in the act.
On one occasion last spring I was chasing my daughter around a wooden play structure. I leaned forward to pursue her and…CRACK! My skull hit an unseen beam. I saw stars. In the meantime, Leilani had disappeared. I ran around to the other side of the structure. She was gone. I finally found her hiding in one of the extensive nooks and crannies of the giant structure.
The experience stopped my heart and, fearing for my child’s safety, caused me to run out and buy the thing my mom had been begging me to buy for weeks, but that every mom in LA shuns like a Japanese restaurant with an American name. It’s a leash. Well, it’s called a safety harness. Ours has Elmo, Leilani’s favorite character. I’ve used it approximately twice, and at the farmer’s market, when I was dreading reactions, I was instead quite pleased to hear people say, “What a great idea!” And, “How cute!” The second time I got at least one notable piercing glare. Now Elmo is lying somewhere on the floorboard of my car, probably crushed and forgotten under a pile of yogurt chips my daughter flung in one of her tornado moods. I’m not ashamed of the leash. It’s just so hard for me to remember to bring it along because I’m so tired. Maybe I need a safety harness to keep from falling over from exhaustion.
So all you tornado chasers, all you parents of bolters, I hope you find the eye of the storm, that little moment of tranquility, that reminds us of why we do this. I wasn’t born a thrill seeker, but chasing my little tornado is the thrill of a lifetime.