Parenting through the Hurricane

Family Matters on 11.02.12
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Photo: Trey Ellis

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast, it's been hard to think of much else. Wondering when the kids will ever go back to school. It's been five days already! Wondering when power will return to our Connecticut town. We started with 88% without power and today 55% percent of households are still without power. Wondering how I will travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn to teach my classes on Monday. Hoping to avoid a panic attack waiting in hours long bus lines

But we are safe, and our property damage minimal. In other words, we are very lucky. And since my parents in Boston never lost power, we've been able to travel for a few days instead of staying stranded in the dark. Just this morning, the kids chanted this was the "best week ever." Of course they are not thinking about school extending into July. To them, we're all marooned together, shooting hoops, playing with the dog, going to the movies, staying up late and sleeping in. Usually Trey and I alternate teaching days, so one of us is home for the kids, but this week, they got both of us. The kids' attitude combined with my incessant viewing of news coverage about Sandy's destruction imparted some valuable lessons.         

1. Our needs our basic. Hunkering down for a storm makes you really think about what essentials your family needs to survive: non-rotten food, shelter and water. Of course Wii games do not make the list. At the end of October, before the deep chill of winter sets in, you might not even need a heater, especially if you can build a fire, which could lead to smores... 

2. Technology consumes too much of my time. When my computer use is restricted, I find other ways to get things done. Keeping my eye on battery use forces me to use my computer intentionally: to write a story or send an email, instead of getting sucked into facebook or amazon, mindlessly clicking and shopping instead of interacting with family and friends. 

 3. We really like hanging out with each other. It's such a nice reminder that I love sitting and working next to my husband, grabbing lunch with my mom and running around the soccer field with our wonderful kids. Sometimes during the grind of the workweek, it feels like our six-year-old and eleven-year-old argue and wrestle incessantly, but these days they've been joined at the hip, building stick houses, drawing portraits of each other and playing Gogo's.     

4. Whatever issues you have are just magnified under pressure. This reminds me of troubled couples hoping that having a baby will strengthen their marriage. Really, as my therapist would say, when you add stresses, existing problems don't go away. So the hurricane did not make Trey and I stop arguing about bills, and Chet remains stuck in a pattern of calling his sisters ugly. That said, watching destruction all around you does offer some perspective on your problems. 

5. I am (a little) afraid of the dark. My camping headlamp has become a constant fixture. See the picture above. 

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