How My 4-Year-Old Processed the Idea of a Tornado
Here in Tuscaloosa, the possibility of a tornado with any strong storm is not exactly surprising. However, it wasn't until recently that I even considered the fact that the idea of a tornado might not be a concern to a child.
Last Thursday, I dropped off my daughter and two of my nieces with another of our nieces so I could attend the program at the Alberta School of Performing Arts. Over the weekend, my daughter came to me out of the blue, as she often does, and asked, "Mommy, why did you have to go to work the other night?"
I told her the whole story of April 27, 2011. She listened intently as I described how she was a tiny baby, and she was at home with "Grand" (my mom) while I was at work. I told her (in my talking to a little kid voice) that I was home before the tornado came and that I was praying for God to protect us and all of our family while I made sure we were in a safe place. I explained that when it was all over, we came out to see the destruction and trees were everywhere! I told her that some people's homes were blown away. I didn't, however, go into detail about how many lives were lost.
After I said how many homes were destroyed, she looked at me with the sweetest eyes and said with purest innocence, "Mommy, were their houses made of grass or sticks?"
"Huh?" I was completely caught off guard.
"Were their houses made of grass or sticks?"
"Uhhh... I'm sure some could be considered made of sticks because they were made of wood (with other materials, of course; but hey, I'm talking to a 4-year-old), but others were brick."
"But the wind isn't supposed to blow away brick houses because when the big, bad wolf came, he couldn't blow it down."
I laughed at her innocence but at the same time, I was proud that she remembered a story she'd been told and was able to correlate it to something I was telling her. "You know, Jireh, there isn't really a big, bad wolf that can blow down houses. That was just a story, but tornadoes.... I guess they're kinda like the big, bad wolf in the story, except they CAN blow away brick houses."
I'm sure she still didn't understand, but I'm so glad she didn't press the issue. She just ran off to play. Thank goodness because I have no idea how I would have explained anything in a way her tiny mind could comprehend. For now, I'm grateful for her innocence. It makes each day a little sweeter.