Whenever my husband leaves town on business — thankfully not too often — all hell breaks loose. This isn’t an exaggeration. It didn’t always start like a scene from Armageddon, but over time it has morphed into predictable feats of strength and a well-deserved Mommy’s Sippy cup of Merlot.
We rarely had spiders in the house, but when the husband boarded the plane and his seatbelt was clicked, eight-legged creatures would emerge. I eventually got brave and didn’t have to call neighbors for help; unless the smashing of the bug will produce an audible crunch then expect my text.
During his summer trips, the wasps became friendly and anthropomorphic. “Boy, wouldn’t it be fun to scare that screaming human by entering her chimney for a game of chicken?”
Wasps made me run from buildings in my 20s, but after birthing children and having to pretend I’m brave enough to keep children safe during a crisis, I developed a foolproof secret method of extermination. It involves a squirt bottle of 409 Kitchen cleaner and a ski-helmet, but I won’t tell more.
Another challenge that rarely happens when my husband deserts me under the guise of a work trip is animals of various sizes appear dead in or around my house. It’s my husband’s duty to remove all carcasses. I think it was in our wedding vows; but as you can imagine, he’s not in town when the bodies need to be removed. Mice, rabbits, birds, and squirrels turn my yard into their cemetery. Just because my husband prides himself on his beautiful lawn, it’s not an invite for the fowl and rodents in our subdivision to deposit loved ones on our property.
Finally, in the six years we have lived in our home, never has my husband joined us in our tornado shelter. Why? Because he’s left town to be where the weather is pleasant!
Thanking God our family was once again spared from the destruction of Monday night, I asked my quaking girls underlit by the flashlight, “Do you ever remember being in this shelter with Dad?” My daughters agreed the only time we’d taken cover was when it was just the gals. Now what are the odds that would happen?
As anyone who has grown up in the Midwest knows, tornados come fast and furious and you should be in your home’s safe spot at the first sight of green skies and hail. Most of the time, that will get you safe before the sirens start, allowing ample time to enjoy a 2-year-old aged case of water bottles and some Altoids from the bottom of mom’s purse.
Normally, I’m able to hustle important items under our steel reinforced basement stairs during the Tornado Watch: shoes for all, jackets, a few family heirlooms, my purse, cellphone, keys to minivan, flashlight and my most prized possession…my laptop. Wait switch that and put the girls before the laptop.
Monday, however, didn’t go that smoothly.
During the pre-tornado watch, I was preoccupied about everyone finishing homework and getting showers before the storm hit, so my bunker was sparse. We had one pair of shoes for the three of us and my purse. No cellphone, no keys, nor Altoids were accessible.
I knew the cats would do what they wanted roaming the basement. After all…they are cats. But there was no way to guess our crazy 50-pound, 10-month old Goldendoodle would refuse to put one paw on the basement stairs.
After screaming at her, and bribing her with treats in the future, I was forced to pick her up and drag her down the stairwell. Her long, gangly legs (which all four were splayed in front of her) grabbed the walls to slow my procession to safety. The wind was really howling as I finally got her to the basement. I begged her to join the screaming noises of my scared children from the dark hidey-hole. Surprisingly, the dog wanted nothing to do with that.
I entered our safe spot without our dog, and realizing I had no control, I cracked open a stale bottle of water and prayed. I feared our new puppy would escape the basement, run into a bedroom, and hit her head on the windowsill and my house would fill with small, brightly dressed sopranos who’d force us to go on a walk.
Instead, I learned something that night. Other than preparation is crucial and I should have brought our 2016 taxes, we have a dog that’s petrified to go up or down our basement stairs. I had no clue!
Does anyone have tips how to change her behavior before the next Kansas siren blares?
Stacey Hatton prays for homeowners who lost their homes, and can be reached at LaughingWithKids@yahoo.com for curing her puppy of stair fright.