20 July 2009

Chickie and the Thunderstorm

At the first clap of thunder, against all my instincts, I played it cool. Chickie was peering at me from under his duvet and I knew better than anyone how a mother’s reactions to life’s little dramas could end up costing you a fortune in counselling fees.

Chickie was sporting the same expression he’d worn the first time he’d heard a balloon go pop. A full blown phobia naturally followed. The first bang at any party now his starter gun for a 100 metre sprint to the car.

“Is there light-er-nin?”
“Shall we see?” My acting was brilliant. Calm, nonchalant. I even managed to sound excited.
“Yeah!” Chickie was fooled.
Inching towards his bedroom window, I reached out a cautious hand to pull up the blind.
Chickie clambered up onto the bay windowsill, reaching for his toy telescope.
When the first flash came, I tried to style out the scream that had been waiting in my throat since my charade had begun.
Chickie eyed me suspiciously through his giant lens.

Then something astonishing happened. Chickie arose, short and stout, but magnificent with the added height advantage of the window ledge beneath him. The thunder crashed and his fearless, hyperactive shadow dazzled as firebolts filled the blackness surrounding him.

With each boom, Chickie appeared to gain more power. He was beginning to remind me a lot of He-Man at the ‘POWER OF GREYSKUL’ bit. It was at this point, I became as scared of Chickie ‘The Electromagnetic Toddler’ as the thunderstorm.

But then, storms when I was young, had been dealt with differently. My mother made no attempts to hide her naked terror and although I’m sure she didn’t actually run around screaming, “we’re all going to die!” I definitely got that vibe.

In the event of a storm, my mother had a simple plan.

1. My sister wore wellies
2. I wore marigolds
3. Mum took tranquilisers

Then came the running. Instructed to take off directly after the last lightning bolt and before the next clap of thunder, we would sprint, for what my sister and I could only assume was, for our lives, to the car. There we would sit. In the darkness. In the garage. Wearing rubber.

Personally, I liked to spend this special family time praying that the 100 foot Ilex tree directly opposite the garage wouldn’t be hit by lightning. Mum liked to hyperventilate.

Now watching Chick as he demanded that I watch ‘HIS’ storm, I was struggling to believe how any blood relative of mine could actually be suited to thunder. Personally, I was more a mild summer’s day. Accountant, by profession, probably drizzle. My mother, a force of nature unto herself.

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