Quality Tornado Time
Our house doesn't have a basement. So, when the Willow Springs' tornado siren goes off, the Madden family seeks shelter in a downstairs bathroom.
The other morning around 1 a.m. we were afforded that opportunity and all seven of us, including our big, black Labrador with the dangerous tail, headed to the bathroom.
I was the last one to escape to our 15-foot by 12-foot safe haven complete with a toilet, sink, several pieces of furniture and a humongous claw foot tub. All the children were quietly sitting on the floor in various positions of repose, with the exception of child number four who had happily climbed into the big bathtub.
When the siren finally stopped, I made a mad dash for blankets and pillows and then we all hunkered down on the floor snuggling in the best we could, praying for safety and hoping to return to the comfort of our own beds sometime soon. Dad left the confines of our quarters to find a radio to listen to a weather report. He instructed us to stay put.
"Well, I feel loved," said child number two.
"What do you mean?" asked mama.
"You brought pillows and blankets for everyone but me," child number two answered.
"Sweetie, I just grabbed what I could. Now, get over here and snuggle up," comforted mama.
"Susie Belle, quit wagging your tail," complained child number one.
"Be still," whined child number two who had made a headrest out of the lower half of mama.
"Mama, you need a tic tac," said child number four, who had abandoned the bathtub for a place beside her mama.
"Well, so do you," replied mama, "Remind me to put some in our emergency kit for next time."
"Good idea," said child number four.
"Please, be quiet," implored child number one, "I'm trying to sleep."
"I can't get comfortable," whined child number three who then moved beside mama, as well.
"I need to go to the bathroom," announced child number four.
"Gracious," said mama.
"Quit wiggling," demanded child number two to no one in particular.
"Susie, quit wagging your dadburn tail," said child number one just before he exited the room in disgust.
"When are we going back upstairs?" asked child number three.
"In a few minutes, I'm sure," answered mama, "but you can stay downstairs and sleep in our bedroom if you like."
"No thanks, your windows are too big," responded children two, three and four in unison.
"I wonder how many windows our house has?" I thought aloud.
"Twenty-five, I think," said child number two as she snuggled in closer.
"Are you counting the big windows as one or two?" someone asked.
"Well, I would count the big windows as two since they really are two windows just side by side," said mama.
"No, I think there are only 23," countered child number three.
"At least that many," agreed child number two. "Every time you turn your head there's a window."
"What's that noise?" I asked just before I realized child number four was no longer beside me.
"I feel much better," announced child number four.
"Ewwww," said her sister.
"Well, that's one good thing about being trapped in a bathroom," said their ever-optimistic mama.
"Susie, get off of us," said child number three to our huge Labrador, who was trying to find a more comfortable place to rest.
"Mama, would you please be still?" child number two said once again.
Tornado or not, I'd had enough.
I got up, peeked out and asked my husband, who was listening to the radio in our bedroom, if it was safe to come out now. "Yes," he said, "It's all clear."
After everyone had returned to bed, I asked my husband, "How long do you think the kids and I were in the bathroom?"
"Oh, five, maybe six, minutes," he answered.
"Good grief," I thought.
Barbara Madden is a freelance writer who lives in Willow Springs with her family and their big, black Labrador, Susie Belle. Her Web site is at www.barbaramadden.com.