When my daughter asked if a friend could spend the night, I was in disbelief.
There was a snowstorm coming. Her friend could be stuck at our house for a couple of days. Surely her parents wouldn’t agree to this.
Maybe in a moment of weakness we were all won over. What’s another child when you already have three. We had plenty of food, and she’d blend right in.
Then, my oldest daughter found out. Her friend had invited her to spend the night, too. She probably had thought I wouldn’t agree, but if I was letting her sister have a sleepover, she thought she should, too … even if it was at someone else’s house.
I wasn’t thrilled about it. I had thought our family would be together during the snow. Some of the best family moments are when you are surviving a storm. It’s back to basics. Snuggling in blankets, drinking hot cocoa, playing games.
But, I kissed and hugged her and her dad drove her into the snowy night.
Come Tuesday morning, with snow still falling, drifts almost as tall as my 5-year-old son, I thought about how everything was OK. I’m sure both of my daughters – one here and the other at another family’s house – were enjoying this winter weather with a friend.
When my son looked out the window for the first time that morning, he excitedly said, “Snow, snow.” That was priceless.
But by noon when his energy had kicked in and he was banging on the girls’ bedroom doors because he wanted attention, I was pleased with our arrangement. At least we didn’t have a sleepy teen-ager yelling at him to be quiet.
Within the past few months, my 4-year-old son has come into a new obsession: Tornadoes.
While you and I are scrambling for cover in a tornado siren, this kid’s eyes get as wide as saucers and the excitement level gets beyond control. Everything he sees is tornado-related.
But not all kids are ready to brave Mother Nature’s fury. Especially if those kids have had to go through an actual tornado and witness firsthand the destruction and injuries it can cause.
To help parents and caregivers explain how a tornado works, what to do when one is coming and how to deal with the destruction and aftermath of these storms, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Office has put out a coloring book called “After the Tornado.”
It’s a good read for parents and kids of any age and children will surely appreciate the fun-to-color pages.
To download the coloring book, click here.
For more information about the book, click here.
And for all your severe weather information, coverage and safety tips, go to the Know-It: Severe Weather page by clicking here.
If your family has any tales of storm survival or tips to help kids get through storms, comment here or e-mail me.
Well, we made it. My 2-year-old boy, Hunter and I came from an OU game relatively unscathed. Rain delay and all.
I learned alot Saturday, so I would like to share my newfound knowledge with other parents.
Here are my tips when bringing a toddler to a major sporting event:
1. Bring your own snacks. OU will let you bring in food for babies and small children, so load up and skip the $4 hot dogs. We brought pretzels, Cheerios mix and Rice Krispies treats.
2. Freeze a big bottle of water and pack it in your bag. My son got to stay cool all through a hot game and I didn’t have to spend money on the super-expensive water at the stadium.
4. At the first sight of lightning, LEAVE. We made the mistake of waiting until it was too late, and I was stuck underneath a stadium with about 50,000 other people braving the rotating thunderstorm directly above us. Not to mention the very long trek through mud afterward to catch a shuttle. My arms are still sore from carrying my little 30-pound Sooner fan all that way.
5. Bring your camera. Yes, they’re allowed and you won’t want to miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this one …
Not outside of course. It’s hot there! But in a tent in the middle of the living room.
My 5-year-old has been learning about camping at preschool, and so we thought it’d be fun to actually break out the tent stored in an unopened box in our attic.
Putting the thing together was fun for my husband because there were no directions. Bravely, he managed and we soon had a bigger-than-I-expected igloo-shaped domicile. My daughter collected an array of snacks for our “camping” trip and I turned on the Discovery Channel (the TV was right there) to find some scenery.
Despite the whirl of the ceiling fan, it was fun to imagine we were actually on a great adventure. Our dogs became “bears” prowling for snacks. We made fire-free S’mores with chocolate marshmallows and Ritz crackers.
But did we sleep there? Of course not, the floor is hard after all.
Next my daughter wants to go fishing. Maybe we’ll turn the bathtub into a “pond.” Do goldfish crackers float?
Susan”Scared of Mosquitoes” Simpson
In May 2000 my daughter was 5 years old and often described the whirling cyclones known to swoop down the Oklahoma plains as “tormatos.”
She would ask: “Mommy, are we gonna get hit by a tormato?”
It’s 2008 and she’s 13. Lots of things have changed, but her concern about tornadoes isn’t one of them.
She is one of many youths who may find themselves alone at home when the storm sirens go off. Children whose parents work outside the home often deal with this situation during tornado season. Wednesday’s storm was a classic example of this situation.
My daughter knows what to do during a storm, but it’s still frightening for her. Wednesday, I was actually caught out in the storm away from the office and made it home just as a tornado (classified as a “gale, “ it damaged property) briefly touched down not too far from my house.
The situation reminded me of a column I wrote in 2000 which featured some storm safety tips by Lisa Hamlin, a 4-H Youth at Risk educator and family and consumer sciences specialist with the Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension Center, a part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Sciences at Oklahoma State University.
In 2003 she updated those tips to specifically address youths home alone during storms.
Well, things are somewhat different for Hamblin since we last talked years ago. She told me she now has a 6-year-old daughter named Caroline.
She’s still an advocate for young people, maybe even more so.
Tornados are scary to think about but parents must talk about them with their children, especially youths who are home alone after school and during the summer break, she said.
Tornadoes and severe storms always will be part of life in Oklahoma. Parents who prepare children for what to expect and how to stay safe will have children who exhibit fewer symptoms of anxiety, fear and stress, Hamblin said.
Here are some of Hamblin’s storm safety tips for parents:
1. Make sure your child knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning? Can they find their county on a state map? Children who are watching TV weather reports won’t understand them without this information.
2. Parents must be honest and not give false reassurances. Explain that tornadoes are unpredictable, but having and practicing a family emergency plan will help them stay safe.3. Older children can help put together an emergency kit that includes flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit and other necessities.
4. Discuss with your children what they should do if a tornado is heading toward your community. Is there a community shelter or close neighbors or relations? Is there a designated place in your home?
5. Children will be worried about their pets during a storm. Add a leash to the emergency kit or have a pet carrier nearby.
6. Parents of teenagers need to prepare them for what to do if they are caught by a storm in a car, at a mall or in other places teens tend to congregate. Adolescents may downplay their concerns, but it is still important to talk about their safety.
7. Parents of young children who attend a child-care center or an after-care program when school has ended need to be aware of their emergency procedures.
QUESTION: How do you help your children cope with Oklahoma’s severe weather?