“This big guy not scared.
Just a little”
The lack of white noise from my fan wakes me up. It’s pitch dark in the room, but I can see the beam of a flashlight outside my door. It’s quiet, too quiet. Then I hear his voice:
“Sam, you okay?”
“Boys, you okay?”
The storm outside tells me why the power is out. I’m glad we kept that flashlight beside Josh’s chair. It’s there for just this reason. Ever since he was a toddler he’s HATED storms. I used to think it was because when he was young we got trapped in the car and had to wait several minutes before the storm calmed down enough for us to make a run for the house. Now I”m not so sure it isn’t a sensitivity to noise that upsets him. Either way, he gets very frightened at even the mention of a storm on the weather report.
When I was in college he could stay home alone while I went to class for a couple hours. Unless it rained. Then I had to leave so that I could get back to him. The worst part for him is if the power goes out. Not only does he loose whatever entertainment he’s using at the time (music, television, DVDs, or video games) he also goes into near panic mode. If I’m not there, it’s worse. He has to be able to see me. Even if I’m in the house but in another room he doesn’t feel comfortable.
Tonight is no different. As soon as I manage to get my eyes open, I stumble towards the door so he knows I’m “okay.”
“Thank goodness!” he says. “Power’s out Mom.”
He manages to stay put for a few minutes before I hear him whisper “Boys, I’m goin’ in my Mom’s room. Stay right here.”
As he creeps from his chair he flashes the light behind him. Every step forward is followed by a glance back at the room he’s leaving. Once he makes it to the chair at my desk he’s fine. “Get the candles” he orders.
The next fifteen minutes are filled with chatter. His mind is dumping all the thoughts that race through it as fast as he can get the words out. The conversation is very one-sided, not much more than a few “uh huh”s or “yes, that’s right”s are required from my side. All that matters is that he can see and hear me.
As a mother, I wonder if there is something more I should be doing to help him with his fears. I’m not sure that therapy would help. His reactions are certainly less violent now that he’s older, but at 27 I doubt that it’s a phase he’s going to grow out of. For now, the best I can do is be here and reassure him, keep the flashlights handy and batteries full, and share in his dislike of “no power.” Sometimes all he needs is for someone to acknowledge that they understand how he feels and even feel the same way.
A gentle reminder of mistakes I’ve made – like leaving the pizza in the oven too long – can go a long way towards making him feel better about burning the popcorn in the microwave.
My biggest fear isn’t the storm itself – it’s thinking about a day when I won’t be here to help him weather the storm.