• Bear

    I DO have OCD, and when I was younger, one of my obsessions was about things blowing away and/or falling off. Every time my mom or dad would lean over the bridge at the petting zoo, I’d freak out and bark, “Hold onto your glasses! HOLD ONTO YOUR HAT!” Of course, they never listened. And they never lost their hats or glasses, either.

    My little brother, however, was going through the fun house at the fair and had not heeded my warning to hold onto his hat. Sure enough, the air blaster blasted it right off his head and over the fun house wall. He recovered it soon, tearily, but I was even more convinced that there was reason behind my obsession.

    It faded away about fifteen years ago. I think Leta will be just fine. Just give her awhile! (And maybe don’t lean FARTHER over the bridge like my dad did, just to prove how secure his glasses were!)

  • http://brooksstreet.blogspot.com Hillary

    I grew up in Wisconsin and now I teach in Wisconsin. Of course, we have tornado drills every spring. There’s not enough doorways for 1,200+ students and staff. But I usually end up in a stinky locker room just waiting for the drill to be over.

    I also remember a student from California that transferred into our high school when I was a student. We had a real tornado warning one spring day. She was incredibly panicked and to the rest of us…it was no big deal.

  • Stephanie

    Heather, I know, this sounds hokey, but it had to have been a past life. There you go. I said it. All, so very un-pc. She had a wind problem in a past life… and maybe you had a tornado problem. :) I spent my life worried that someone would assault me. I have NO reason to think this… that’s all i can come up with. my husband just thinks i am a wierdo…but seriously… past life.

  • http://www.kimbanelson.com Kimba

    So in a completely opposite but related story, I recently had a discussion like this with my mother. I grew up in Utah (Bountiful, actually…) but my mom moved all over as a kid and spent a large part in Mississippi, so she knows tornados. My husband and I currently live in San Jose, and our previous rental home was an old one, built in 1920. I was joking that during an earthquake the entire house would probably disintegrate and blow away, and she, very seriously, said, “Well, at least you have that cellar underneath the house to go to if it happens.”

    Yes, mother. At least we have that…

  • http://prettylittlepenny.blogspot.com Be Like The Squirrel, Girl

    We had tornadoes and drills in Wisconsin and they scared me to death. The siren! I can hear it in my mind. I still have dreams sometimes that a tornado is heading in my direction.

    But there must be something to the phobia – like what does she think will happen if something does blow away? That she will never see it again? That idea can be kind scary for a kid.

  • nancy

    Doorways are NOT the safest in the event of an earthquake. I have been told that getting under a table is best…if the roof collapses, the table would be somewhat of a barrier to being crushed.

  • http://aol.com Al

    My brother and I are accomplished sailors ( sailboats on Lake Michigan). He gets unhinged with thunderstorms, but only when he is on dry land. On the water he knows just what to do and how to do it, but on land he totally gorks.

  • http://www.duxfordgirl.ca Chantelle

    I can totally understand this. I grew up in Alberta, Canada. Tornados aren’t unknown but certainly not common. However, long before the 1987 Edmonton Tornado or the 2000 Pine Lake Tornado I had it ingrained in my small head that one of these storms was coming to get me.

    I used to collect all of my treasured possessions and rush them to the basement whenever the wind picked up over 15kts. Every tag on a dark cloud spelled certain death to me. As I grew up I started to read as much as I could about the subject.

    In 2000, our family had a 5th wheel at Pine Lake and the tornado took out the trailer (my Grandmother survived, in spite of being right in the path. She wouldn’t like this description, but she’s one tough broad). When my Dad went out to see if he could find anything left of our property for insurance purposes, etc. I gave him a briefing of how to follow the path for his best change of finding anything. He looked at me like I was insane. All I could tell him was “hey, remember how obsessed I was with this when I was a kid? All that reading finally paid off.”

    Glad to see from all these comments that I’m not the only one who spent a childhood worrying about such things.

    Great book and blog, by the way. I’m expecting my first in a few weeks and your honestly and humour are such a help.

  • Anonymous

    Just wondering – ever drink and blog?

  • http://humanbeingblog.com Lynn @ human, being

    I think all kids obsess about something sometime. For me, it was getting struck by lightning. My mom taught me to count 1-1,000-2-1,000 between the flash and the thunder to gauge how far away the lightning had struck. One second = one mile, right? I didn’t feel safe unless I was counting out loud. Twice in my life lightning struck very close–once about 15 feet away from me when I was at cheerleading practice in middle school, and I was thrown a few feet, and another time it hit our chimney and blew out every electronic gadget in the house. I was sitting across from the fireplace reading. So I guess those experiences left me freaked out.

    I still count between flash and crash. Now, more under my breath so people don’t think I’m nuts.

    My daughter worries about hurricanes and we live in Colorado. My stepson worries about everything, but then he’s weird.

  • Anonymous

    We always had to line up in front of the lockers and sit on our knees bent over and put an open book over the back of our head and neck.

  • http://www.lisaschaffer.blogspot.com/ Lisa

    Another Memphian here.
    I remember those tornado drills-everybody out in the hall with their booties in the air. Except for the one lucky kid who was chosen to open the windows. There was a window opener in every classroom. I think that was to keep the building from floating away. Wouldn’t Leta be happy?

  • http://pogmothoinblog.blogspot.com/ Jen

    Poor Leta! She’s not the only one with weird fears. My dog (yes, I’m comparing your child to a dog) is afraid of INDOOR WIND.
    Fans? Fine.
    Wind outside? Fine, no problem.

    Wind that gently blows indoor through the open windows on a nice day?
    It’s ARMAGEDDON, as far as he’s concerned. He paces, he looks at me as if to plead, “Foodlady, stop it!” And I just tell him to suck it.


  • http://www.whittlescanwobble.blogspot.com Brittles

    No really…what do they teach you? I’m a fifth generation Arizonan. I haven’t the slightest idea why it’s funny :( Doorway sounds reasonable…hide under a desk perhaps? Why a bathtub? Can’t the roof fall in on you just as easily while sitting in your tub? ..and attract lightening at that? I do understand the Care Bears though…I may have brought those and some Choose Your Own Adventure books; get me hyped up for action…

  • Erin

    I read your site daily and am a huge Metric fan, yet somehow I did not see the Emily Haines resemblance until it was pointed out in the comments today. So true – you totally look alike!

    (It’s a compliment – you’re both lovely.)

  • http://www.thehoopesfam.blogspot.com Ashley

    Oh, my daughter who is almost five does the same thing. I wonder what it is? She FREAKED out whenever the wind would blow our 4th of July flag…like isn’t that what it’s supposed to do…flap in the wind?? But it freaked her out so badly that we had to take it down. She thought that it was going to blow away forever??…injure someone?? Good to know it’s not just my kid with the OCD behavior, which I had my fair share of as a child too. :)

  • Phoebe

    There’s an evil little part of me that wants you to take Leta out kite flying.

  • http://vocabularyvixen.wordpress.com/ Rachel

    I, for one, LOVE storms. I always have. Even when there was tornado in Rockford that blew down our backyard tree, I thought it was fascinating as hell. I still like storms and wind.

    I had several weird phobias and tics when I was a kid. I had a horrendous fear of swallowing things-toys, batteries, etc. I imagined it, and I was terrified that I would swallow something like that and choke on it. I was also flat-out terrified that my little brother would do something like that. That might have come from the penny he’d swallowed once… Or the purple crayon… Either way, I was absolutely terrified of swallowing a toy, a marble, etc.

    I was also terrified that my bike would get stolen. I always locked it up, and I sometimes had to check a few times, or I would lay awake at night, paranoid that somebody would come in and steal my bike. Now, my brother DID have a few bikes stolen out of our garage. It ALWAYS pissed me off that he wouldn’t lock his bike up. And it ALWAYS pissed me off that he always got a new one!

    We had our lawnmower stolen once. O.o That did wonders for this stealing fear.

    I was also scared of the noises, etc. in my house. I spent a lot of time convincing myself: “There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s no such thing as ghosts!” …Though I know better these days! :-)

    And yes, I did develop OCD later on in life. I spent a good while BEYOND TERRIFIED of head lice, and my new one is cockroaches. Meh.

  • http://mommy-is-rock-n-roll.blogspot.com Lauren

    I am chock-full of irrational fears. I also live in Texas and if there is a tornado warning I grab a bunch of pillows and my laptop of course and hang out in the bathtub until the warning is gone.

  • Laura S

    When I was about 5 or 6, a tornado hit our warehouse in town. “They said a door flew into the neighbor’s yard and is standing straight up,” Dad said. My only thought was if the stupid neighbors were going to keep the door. We need that door back!

    My irrational fears as a kid have somewhat still stuck. I was in morning kindergarten and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Every once in a great while, she would be 15 or 30 minutes late coming home from errands and I would be by myself. I would get so scared to sit on the couch because it was in front of a window. I was afraid of someone breaking through the window behind me and cutting my neck…in broad daylight. I would get a blanket, cover myself from the head down, and sit in front of the tv to watch Sesame Street until someone came home. I still don’t like my husband to touch my neck. I get gribblies.

    I was also scared of the kitchen door. We didn’t have a curtain on that window for a while. We also had to pass in front of it to go to the bathroom. Boy, that was a treat at night. I was always scared there was a guy in one of those old timey brass diving helmet standing on the other side of the door. I think I got that one from Scooby Doo. Although, all of us were creeped out by that door at night. It was soooo nice when Mom finally put up a curtain. Dad was even happy about it, and he doesn’t like anything to change.

  • http://oneurbanmom,blogspot.com Anonymous

    Ok, I’m sure that if I were to read all 219 comments above I might find clarity, but we people who didn’t grow up in tornado land don’t know anything about tornado drills. In California, we have fire drills, earthquake drills (to which Jon was referring), and intruder drills (a relatively contemporary development). Despite all of the drilling I have been subjected to, I still don’t know what people do in a tornado drill? Do they run to the bath tub? or the underground shelter that didn’t protect Helen Hunt’s dad in Twister?


  • Laura S

    Oh yeah…I have some friends that own a (tornado) siren company. I can’t listen to anything on their site because the sound just freaks me out. I think about nuclear attacks and tornadoes all at one time.

  • Dorothy

    You know, even in Northern Virginia we had tornado drills, which blew my mind because in all 16 years of living here we’d only had one in Maryland that was totally random. They had us go out to the hallways, tuck ourselves into a ball and cover our heads whilst facing an inside wall. Because being slammed into the wall in the fetal position by a tornado is how I want to go.

  • http://www.lovemaegan.com loveMaegan

    hil-larious. he must have grown up here.

    I was afraid freddy krueger was going to suck me through my bed.

  • http://www.lovemaegan.com loveMaegan

    …also, am I supposed to know what “number 26″ means? now I feel dumb.

  • http://www.utahj.com Jared

    Give her a bottle of canned air to play with and see how she reacts.

  • http://smartestgirlintheworld.com Tara

    One of my friends has a daughter who is afraid of Odd Numbers. Or so she claims at bedtime.

  • Verity

    Irrational childhood fears?

    I had a rug on the floor of my bedroom, cream with Thomas the Tank engine pattern on, but when it was dark in my room, all logic flew out the window, and I was convinced Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (you know the bad fairy with the same voice as the Evil Stepmum in Cinderella) was about to appear from the rug a la the christening scene in the Disney Film. Hey ho.

  • http://maialarasaid.blogspot.com/ Julia

    I know it sounds awful to Leta but because the way you put it, I couldn’t stop laughing.
    You’re so funny, go and do a stand up please.


  • Audrey

    I lived in the Midwest as a kid and was scared enough of tornadoes as it was, but luckily we moved to Germany before Mom read us the Little House on the Prairie series, with all the descriptions of How People Die in tornadoes. Seriously, at certain points it becomes, “They found his body with the boots off, but and the boots, still laced, two miles away! How’d the boots get off his body with his legs still intact?”

    Then we moved back to Virginia, where not only did we have fire drills and tornado drills, we also had hurricane drills (exactly the same as tornado drills, with that odd tucked-up position), and after Columbine, intruder drills. Jon may be interested to know that we don’t do earthquake drills in Virginia, but that’s about it.

  • Keren

    I can associate with Leta. It is more the nausiating fear that something very important is going to be lost and you are the only one to save it because no one else is around/saw it. She must be a very responsible child

  • http://mrsaurieng.info mrsaurieng

    Would Mary Poppins help? Mary gently drifts up and down on her umbrella, the kids fly kites with their dad, and everyone gets sucked up the chimneys to dance on the roofs.

    Or would that make her scared of fireplaces?

    Good luck.

  • Alicia

    I can one-up you there. I went to school on a military base. Overseas. We had fire drills AND Bomb Threat Drills. Yes. Bomb. Threat. Drills.

  • http://chickbassknitknacks.blogspot.com/ CindyCB

    Oh yes, the blowing away fear. Mine started when I let go of a balloon and watched it disappear into the sky. I then realised the sky goes on forver. And ever. AND EVER. So what would happen if I fell off of the Earth? I’d be floating in space for ever and ever and my parents would never find me.

    Closely followed after this was fear of spontaneous combustion, nothing left of me but scraps of my pjs… and ‘planes falling on the roof of the house and crushing my in my sleep (I mean I could HEAR the ‘planes up there!).

    And then of course hearing that members of the government
    around the World had their fingers on the button to start wars… what if they slipped and pressed the button by accident? Or Margaret Thatcher put her handbag down on it?

    It’s a wonder I made it to adulthood in one piece. x

  • http://arsdesign.org/ arsDesign

    I question how much a child’s fear affects the remainder of ones life.

  • http://www.ohthatissogay.com LifesBeenGood

    I have an all consuming fear of spiders so me and Leta… we’re soul mates. I’m sure that my scream over a spider the size of the head of a pin and Leta’s scream over the blowing receipt were on the same pitch.

    By the way… I think your last Chuck photo is my all time favorite in the whole history of Chuck photos. He does look very natural in that setting… majestic even…

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in Ohio where tornado drills at school came about every spring. I was never afraid of the wind or a tornado until we had to sit through those drills–all rolled into a ball in the hallways. Tell me that’s not terrifying.

    My mom had a wind chime in the kitchen window. If the breeze blew that thing AT ALL, I would panic and pace.

  • Carly

    I have to come out of lurk-dom to say that I, as a former Memphian (born and raised), am quite baffled when I realize that not everyone grew up having tornados, you know, like, ONCE A WEEK in the summer.

    In fact, I got a running commentary in text messages from my father about two weeks ago when FIVE tornados touched down in one night in Memphis.

    And then, earlier this summer, my friends and I were driving in Nebraska, pumping gas, when all of a sudden the sirens went off. I immediately went INSIDE the gas station while my friends stood IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET TO SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING. I was like, HELLO!? It’s a tornado!! Turns out not everyone grows up with a tornado siren on top of their school. Who knew?!

  • Michelle

    The word TORNADO has to be whispered around my son. He FREAKS out. I had to take his kindergarten teacher aside, and let her know, she must tell him that the drill is just a test. If the weatherman on TV mentions anything about a tornado, we must assure him that all is ok. The poor kid is going to be really tested as there is a tornado siren test every 1st Tuesday of the month here in the suburbs of Chicago.

  • http://confuseddildo.blogspot.com Katy

    At my school, the tornado drill was the same drill for Nuclear Fallout, I shit you not. I was skeptical that these positions would work in a tornado drill, but I am totally not convinced that crouching in the hallway will save me from a nuclear bomb.

    @Wichita, I live in Cincinnati OH, where they test the sirens every Wednesday at noon.

  • Sandra

    We moved from NJ to the Pittsburgh area when my son was 5 – in the middle of kindergarten. And he came home from his very first day in his new school to tell me that they had a TORNADO DRILL. And I said to my husband, “Where in the hell did you move us to?!?” Shocked my little suburban Philadelphia system, I’ll tell you.

  • http://blog.sailorscorpio.com/ Meredith

    Aww, that’s too cute and hilarious at the same time. I’m also terribly amused that your husband had no idea about tornado drills. I’m assuming he probably doesn’t know the extensive to-do list for hurricane season, either — lucky guy.

  • http://tallredamanda.wordpress.com Amanda

    It’s interesting you wrote about tornadoes because I had a dream about them last night! No idea why.

    I grew up in Indiana where tornado drills/warnings are also the norm. When I first moved to Massachusetts I was working in the library at my grad school and as I was training they handed me the list of safety issues for me to look over. As I was reading it, I absentmindedly turned to my coworker and asked where they go for tornado drills.

    Yeah, he laughed at me and asked what the hell I was talking about. Actually he said, “We don’t have tornadoes here. We have buildings and trees.” And that was the first time it occurred to me that hiding in the bathtub wasn’t something I needed to worry about anymore. ;-)

  • Ruthie

    I can totally relate to the phobia thing. When my daughter was 4 or 5, she would get terribly upset when a toy, raft, etc. was left in our pool. She would shake and cry and generally freak out until someone would get out. Don’t ask me where this came from but she grew out of it. Now she’s 17 and she’s the one who leaves the raft in the pool and couldn’t care less. Go figure.

  • http://www.communityhomesupply.com/pages/bathroom_remodeling/82.php Bathroom Remodeling Chicago

    great story. i remember all the school preparedness stuff we had and for a tornado we had to go into a boiler room where if it was damaged would probably make certain that we all died.

  • http://gproids.com steroids

    My mother would have a heart attack yelling for me to get into the basement but my father and I would just stand there and smile, straining our eyes for a glimpse of that destructive funnel.

  • Linda

    Thanks Heather. I now know my daughter – aged 5 and going through a serious phobia of things blowing away ever since my husbands cap blew off his head on a windy day (I kid you not lol) – is not alone. Gotta love them five year olds LOL!!

  • ma2one

    Not to sound all crunchy…
    Have considered homoeopathy to calm Leta’s anxiety, some things are heredity.

  • M.R.

    I am 35 years old and to THIS DAY, I am scared to death of pool lights. They look like eyes to me. I think this began when my parents took me on the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at Disney World. Obviously, it’s an under water ride where your in what is supposed to be a submersible research vessel of some sort. Then, you come upon Captain Nemo’s ship, which is supposed to look like a sea monster. The “eyes” are round windows…that look just like a pool light. Now, I won’t even get into an Olympic sized swimming pool…there are “eyes” every 12 feet around the edge!

  • http://www.magpieandmuttonfly.com AmyJo

    I lived in Dallas for two years – and I’m not sure which was more unnerving, the tornado watches or roaches the size of a sewer rat. I had to run out of a public restroom once -with my pants down at my ankles, I might add – and I didn’t even care. Did. Not. Care. What’s a little dignity when there’s a man-eating-cockroach lurking in the shadows of your stall? EXACTLY!