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003
Reaching back into the archives, for the second part of the twenty year old trilogy of pre-wedwand stories of toddler days gone by. Interesting for the camel to re-read the perspective of 1993. Here it is, unedited from the original version:

TODDLER TREPIDATIONS – Thunder and Lightening

June of 1993 was the wettest June on records for 101 years in the Chicagoland area, missing the all-time record by just ½ inch of rain according to the local weatherman.

Much of the rain that fell was accompanied by lightening bolts and thunder booms that rumbled across the heavens, crackling through the sky and more or less scaring the poop out of our two year old daughter.

This proves an interesting parental dilemma. You may tell your child there is nothing to fear and to show how this is just one of nature’s many moods, you look out the window, child by your side, to watch the storm.

As bolts of lightening flash through the sky accompanied by thunder crashes as loud as cannons, the rain pours out of the sky so heavily that you cannot see across the street.

You calmly tell her that this is what they call a storm as the lights flicker on and off and tree branches begin to scatter across the lawn. There is nothing to fear, you tell her with assurance, wondering to yourself whether it is about time to build an ark.

I tried that very approach one evening and thought it worked. The storm calmed eventually and our daughter went to bed. Confident, I assumed all was well.

It was about ten o’clock when from out of nowhere, a lightening bolt went rippling through the sky followed closely by a loud crack of thunder.

I thought I heard my daughter cry, but I wasn’t certain. I went to check on her in her room and found her huddled up at the head of the bed totally under the covers making little whimpering sounds.

Guess she saw through the “nothing to worry about” bit. After holding her and trying to give her a little comfort, she agreed to go back to bed but only if I agreed to lie on a pillow on the floor next to her in her room, “right dere daddy.”

After seeing her in her previous crisis state, I saw too no other option. I woke up with a sore back about two in the morning and she hasn’t been particularly fond of storms since that time.

The aftermath came weeks later. She has some anxieties which is not unnatural for a two year old, but one day, she looked up at some big old pure white cumulus clouds that looked like cotton candy floating lazily across another wise blue shy and announced, “I don’t like a da couds.”

Thunder or bugs I understand. I myself am not too fond of a bee in my ear or a fly nipping at my ankles, but clouds?! Menacing dark rain clouds maybe, but after questioning her further, she reaffirmed, “Daddy, don’t like a doze big puffy things.”

She apparently identified them as similar to the source of storms. I hope soon she will learn that not all clouds are bad.

EPILOGE: An interesting sequence of events ensued as I finished this entry.

I followed up with my daughter today, nearly 21 years later, with the random question, “What do you think about clouds?”

She shook her head slowly from side to side at this bizarre question and simply said, “What about them? Those big puffy things?”

No fear lingered, thankfully, but the very SAME description remained, almost 21 years later, “those big puffy things.” “Cross my eyes and hope to spit,” to quote the TV legend of the 60’s, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, that’s what she said.

Had I had the foresight, I could have made millions on a study on whether a child would describe a phenomenon of nature the very same way 21 years later.

Oh well, keeping with the month related jingles, remember, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

But I was wondering, if April showers bring a May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Wait for it …

It’s on the tee, ready to take a swing?

Of course, the answer is Pilgrims.

The Mayflower brought Pilgrims to America in 1620.

And with them, disease and pestilence and the annihilation of a tribe of people. But that’s a topic for another day.

Here’s some Pieces Of April for you as we move on to May tomorrow.

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006
While rummaging thought some old crates, doing some spring cleaning, I happened across some “Pre-Wedwand” essays I had penned some twenty years ago. Like a camel using the hump to store food, I thought it would be fun to share what was saved.

Back then, my oldest daughter was a toddler and I found a series of stories themed “Toddler Trepidations.” (I have kept them intact, but will footnote changes when appropriate.) Here’s the first installment:

TODDLER TREPIDATIONS — INSECTS

April marks the coming of spring and with it warmer weather. Ah, spring, robins chirping, flowers blooming, and, I almost forgot, bugs. Insects or the relative lack of them outdoors is one of the good things about winter.

I, like many men across America, am the “Official Bug Killer” of the household. I am not particularly fond of the title nor do I especially relish the duties that come with it.

This honor was more or less bestowed on me by my spouse and my continued status as OBK is periodically reaffirmed when I hear my wife call my name in a firm but somewhat unsteady voice. One word. Simply my first name. Loud enough so that I can here it where ever I am at that time.

This is immediately followed by a frantic, “Come here” (pronounce the HERE with a slightly higher inflection.) I have deduced that another spider sighting has been made and the OBK is being called to the rescue.

We cannot officially announce that a bug or spider has actually been spotted or our three year old daughter will simply freak out. At the given “come here” signal in that frantic voice, I grab a handy weapon (usually a rolled up newspaper) and tell our girl I have some reading to catch up on in the other room.

Sometimes that works. Sometimes she follows and having spotted the spider will frantically cry out herself and shriek as she points to the spot where the soon to be squashed bug lurks. After the carnage, I am often asked to show the poor insect’s remains to my daughter as proof that it has passed into that great spider web in the sky.

It was in the spring of 1994. My eldest daughter was nearly three when we found she had a slight apprehension when it came to bugs. OK, more accurately, it verged on downright paranoia.

As a rule, you try and quell most of your child’s fears, but it is tough to tell your daughter, “Bugs are OK honey. Oh look, there’s a mosquito about to suck the blood out of your arm. Isn’t he cute? But dear, it could be worse. In some countries, this bug could be spreading a disease he picked up in a swamp somewhere but as far as we know that doesn’t happen here.” (1)

One day, we were bike riding. Well, she was riding her tricycle and I was walking beside her. We had gone about a block on this lovely Spring Sunday when she suddenly stopped, trembled mildly and pointed.

When I asked the source of her fear, she simply continued to point in front of her saying, “There daddy.”

She quickly dismounted her trike, and ran to me, arms extended as if to save her from the pit o bugs.

Cautiously, I looked to where she pointed expecting to see a swirling mass of insects, but instead, a good ten feet in front of her was a single solitary ant crawling along the concrete. TEN FEET AWAY.

I quickly squashed him hoping it would alleviate her fears, but nothing doing. Bike riding for the day was over and done as was any further outdoor activity. Teary eyed, I carried the tricycle and her home for the afternoon.

Now if she stops bike riding, you know this is a serious fear for her but one day this will pass, I am sure. (2) But then again, as I think of my wife’s shaky voice, maybe not.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) At the time I wrote this twenty years ago, the West Nile Virus was not a concern in the Chicagoland area. Indeed research reveals the first case in the Western Hemisphere was in 1999.

(2) It has not passed. I just questioned my daughter, now 22 and found out just the other day, she made her friend eradicate a spider in their room, with a rolled up newspaper no less. Yep, she asked to see the remains as proof.

Let me start this by saying, I mean no disrespect for the passengers of the Malaysian Flight 370 and applaud the continuing search and rescue efforts for this missing flight. I cannot imagine the trials and tribulations the families are going through.

But, I had this odd thought.

Who was on board this missing flight?

Was there a Professor? Perhaps a movie star too? A millionaire and his wife? A beauty and a plain Jane?

Who was the pilot or skipper if you will? Who was the co-pilot?

Was it Gilligan??

The TV series Gilligan’s Island lasted only 3 years. The CNN coverage of flight 370 seems to last 3 years EVERY day.

As far as I can tell NOBODY even went to search for The Minnow, despite the fact that there was a dreadful storm, rich people and a movie star missing.

But those were the 60’s. A time when we only had 5 channels and apparently, nobody cared that a freaking tour boat had randomly disappeared into the Pacific Ocean with influential people on board and NO explanation on why it was gone.

This, folks is why Amelia Earhart remains missing. Some of those “pings” they hear to this day could be Amelia or Gilligan. You decide.

Thankfully, The Minnow safely crashed on a random island that nobody knew about just 3 hours, a 3 hours cruise from Honolulu we are told. We could navigate a path to the moon, but there were still uncharted islands 3 hours from Oahu back then.

And, NOBODY could find them for THREE years.

We were busy putting space ships in the air and trying to find the moon but we could not even find a tour boat 3 hours from Oahu on an uncharted isle and NOBODY even cared?

I can imagine if the Minnow would have been lost today instead of in the 60’s?

“Ladies and gentlemen, word just in, The Minnow has been lost. The Minnow has been lost. The SS Minnow was on a three hour cruise, a three hour cruise.

The skipper was a little odd, but all focus is on the first mate, a man named Gilligan.

Gilligan was once a former beatnik going under the stage name of Maynard G Krebs. We are trying to locate Dobie Gillis, his best friend, but his phone just says, “You rang?”

Krebs was unstable and we are searching for his computer records. They do not exist. Gilligan apparently owned no computer. In fact, nobody owns a computer. This is 1965. We are lucky to own a TV so you can watch this dribble.

We’ll be back every 15 minutes with updates of nothing new on this story. Again and again. And again and again and again.

As for the rest of the passengers, apparently the movie star known only as “Ginger” had recently been passed over for a part and was despondent. She is not considered a threat.

A professor on board had just developed a formula for something absurd. His concept was to bottle water and sell it. His backer on this project was Thurston Howell III.

However, this theory is being dismissed since NOBODY would ever bottle water and be able to sell it for a profit. Howell’s wife Lovey is too ditsy to be a threat to anything, yet
Lovey loves water from a bottle.

Marianne remains an enigma. We don’t know who she is or why she was on board She is a person of interest. As is Ginger. Ginger or Marianne. Who is your favorite suspect?

We’ll be back. with more and more and more on this story.”

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