Hurricane Irene: The WORST day of his life

When we lost power Friday night, my son had just finished an exciting round of Just Dance on the Wii. I naively thought we were going to have until midday on Saturday before we lost power. My plan was to get up early, exercise, cook us a big breakfast and then ride out the storm. Here’s the thing...you can’t plan when you want the lights to go out.

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Things went a little differently

Thankfully I had the foresight to go ahead and blow up the air-mattress. When the winds started picking up Friday night, I wanted our son to sleep in our room so that I would be able to sleep without worrying about him being across the hall alone.

When my husband asked, “Why is he sleeping in here?” I growled and glared at him. I thought to myself, Mama Bear wanted to evacuate, Papa Bear said it wasn’t necessary - no compromising. So Mama Bear is going to set up Baby Bear to camp out in Mama and Papa Bear’s bedroom for the night - no compromising!

We all woke up early enough Saturday to still need flashlights. I felt like I had never fallen asleep. Within a few hours my son had exhausted the power in his portable DVD player and then my laptop. He was thoroughly annoyed that he didn’t get to finish watching a movie that he’d seen a thousand times. I wouldn’t let him have the iPad so he had "NOTHING" to do.

By 10:30 a.m., he and I were coloring in a dinosaur coloring book. He acted like he was helping me out by giving me something to do. I had a good book on my Kindle that I was itching to get back to. My husband was asleep - enjoying his boredom. No one seemed to be hungry since I couldn’t cook. I was sleepy. I heard someone’s generator and wished someone would generate me a cup of coffee.

By noon the storm had become so much worse. I was thinking if the power went out last night and it wasn’t that bad then, there has certainly been further damage to the lines where the electricity is not going to just pop back on after the wind stops blowing. My frame of reference was a Category 1 hurricane we had here in 2004. The storm started and ended in the same day. We lost power in the morning and it was restored the same evening. Lack of power wasn't so critical. I barely used my cellphone back then. I had a hard wired phone that I could still use. I was pregnant with my son at the time and had the foresight to bake brownies before the power went out. I was good.

By 12:30 I let my son have some ice cream to cheer him up. He hadn’t had anything substantial to eat yet but the ice cream was melting and I was preparing to throw it out anyway.

By 2:00 we could see well enough out of the window to see that a few trees had fallen and broken an area of our fence. His voice was a little wobbly with emotion when he said, “This storm is ruining EVERYTHING. This is the WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!” I just looked at him and said, “Really?”

I tried to put myself in his shoes. The first “worst” I could remember was walking home from school in a winter rain in my fake fur coat. I was wet all the way down to my underwear and freezing by the time I got home - now THAT’S suffering. What followed was a sickness that didn’t come from anybody else’s germs. I think my coat finally dried by the time I was well enough to wear it.

In preparation for the power outage, I bought the $14.99 one month data plan for my iPad. The iPad would be my backup for keeping in touch once my cellphone battery died.  When my son whined, “How come you get to use the iPad?” I tried to explain that I was checking “the news” (facebook feeds) and that was more important than him playing games. He finally left me alone and went to rediscover his real toys, things that make noise and don’t have headphones attached.

That evening my son learned what a generator was. Our neighbor had one - well a lot of neighbors had one. My son found out that we could plug stuff in if we had a generator. He started working on my husband, “Dad can you go buy a generator so I can use the iPad?”

The day after the storm everyone was outside. My son got to run back and forth with his neighbor friend. I enjoyed watching them play away from ‘all things electronic’, rediscovering tossing a ball, shooting water guns, and blowing bubbles. By Sunday evening and a day that had reached 91 degrees, I had thrown away almost all of our perishables.

We went for a ride in the A/C and got some fast food to eat. Returning home, I had given in and let my son have the iPad. It was a follow through on a bribe for him having to take a cold bath. The power HAD to be coming on soon. I let him use it until the battery level reached 50% and then I said to save the rest for tomorrow - there would be no school. We all went to bed before we needed to light candles to see.

There are three things that I learned from this storm in preparation for the next:

#1 - Get a generator
#2 - GET a generator
#3 - GET A GENERATOR!!!

Written with power.

Sporadically Yours,

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