• Anonymous

    Duck and cover. Just had a tornado drill today at the middle school where I work.

  • Angela N

    I grew up in suburban new jersey. Fortunately for us, we don’t have tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes to worry about and there zero sirens that go off EVER.

    So, you can imagine my anxiety when the siren went off on the first tuesday of the first month of my my freshman year of college at 10:30 am. I am walking from one building to another and there it was, the piercing shrill of the tornado siren off the top of the building next to me. I look around wildly and all the other kids are just walking calmly AS IF THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT TO END!!!!! This is the second week of school, before you have friends to speak of or really know anyone. I try to keep it cool and make it to my next class where I sit and listen to the siren going off while all the other kids (who somehow seem to know each other, not sure where I missed the ice breakers) are COMPLETELY IGNORING THE NOISE!!!

    Being a person of some intelligence, I decided there was probably nothing wrong and I would do some subtle inquiries later and figured out that they test the sirens every month on the first tuesday morning. However, the first few minutes were the most terrifying of my life!

    But, you are talking about the same city girl who had an exit strategy to save her entire family in case the house went up in flames in the middle of the night at age 8. At a younger age, I had a phobia where I had to get out of the bathroom between the time I hit the flusher and before the toilet finished flushing or a monster would come out and get me. And I remember actually feeling afraid about this!!

    Why are children so afraid of the world!!

  • http://winecat.typepad.com Cathy Carey

    Clearly a California raised boy. Of course you go stand in the doorway it’s the strongest part of the building.

  • Alicia

    Oh, Maegan- you reminded me of my childhood fear of taking a bath, because I saw the movie where Freddy Krueger pulls that woman through the bottom of her bath tub.

    Also, have you noticed that when you are in the shallow end of a pool, and you go underwater and open your eyes, the deep end is all dark and scary? I was convinced for the longest time that a random-ass shark was going to attack me from the dark depths of the pool’s deep end.

  • Emily

    I grew up in Iowa, and tornado drills were a regular occurence in school. We still have them at work, requiring everyone to go down to the basement and stare at each other for ten minutes.

    In all honestly, the schools really should have taught us to go stand outside and watch the sky and/or take pictures. “Let’s go out and watch it!” is normally everyone’s standard response for a tornado warning being issued. And if the tornado path is expected to be ten miles from me? Psssht, I’m not even going to look up from my book.

  • Kelly

    I live in Memphis, and in the last month or so, we have had 4 tornados touch down. One touched down about half a mile from my house while I was at work. I drove home, avoiding all the fallen trees and power lines, just praying that the large tree in front of my house was still in front of my house, and not in my house. It was, but we had lost a lot of branches and others in my neighborhood had lost a lot more than that. I grew up outside of Corinth, MS, and remember the tornado drills very well. I also remember that the first time I ever saw a tornado, I was outside the first grade building at my school, watching a tornado form just a mile or so away. My teacher had to come out and drag me inside. I was so scared, but could not stop watching. Thirty-one years later, I still have occasional nightmares of being surrounded by tornados. However, I love to watch Stormchasers and shows like that. I am complicated.

  • Rebecca

    This is hilarious and totally familiar. I also grew up in KS and am now in MO and they test tornado sirens once a week here, too.

    True story (because phobias must run rampant in little girls): I used to keep just enough stuffed animals in my toy cabinet to cover me, so that if anyone broke into our house at night I could climb in and hide behind said stuffed animals (which definitely included a Care Bear or two) and be totally safe and undetected. I think I was about 6, and I guess I figured my parents and 3-1/2 year old brother would figure out how to fend for themselves. (No room for you guys in here! Sorry!)

    Also a handy excuse for not cleaning my room. It could be fatal to put all those toys in there at once, you know. (No room for me.)

  • tina

    You had tornado drills in Memphis? I’ve lived in TN all my life and never had a tornado drill. I’m in East TN.

    Poor Leta. Kids come up with the strangest things to be scared of, but they REALLY ARE SCARED.

    Oh yea, we did have an umbrella caught up in a storm – and it pulled the table over the deck and broke the glass. So maybe Leta’s got something there.

    You must not get much wind there. LOL


  • http://memyselfandmommy.com/ Renee

    Maybe Leta is trying to save the planet from pollution?

    My two year old went through a phase recently when she was literally afraid of her own shadow. Her own shadow! She is also afraid of snakes in her bed. How??? Does a two year old know what fear is and what to associate it with? I didn’t think nightmares about snakes came until you were older.

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  • Krista

    My soon to be four year old has the same irrational fear. It started about two years ago – I’m not sure what sparked it.

    He’s terrified of my hair blowing when the car air conditioner is on. He would rather bake away like a roast chicken in his uber-padded car seat than have my hair lift an inch off my head. The bone-chilling guttural screaming is enough to send me into the throws of adrenaline madness.

    I also have the added bonus of another fear of things disappearing down drains. If I start running the water in the bath tub to warm it up before I plug up the drain, he starts shrieking like I was taking his most prized possessions for ransom. This fear encompasses tooth brushing and toilet flushing as well. Joy.

    So rest assured that you are not alone. Hopefully Leta will let this one go soon – and that my little one will follow.

  • Sara

    Too funny – I remember those drills of course, being from the midwest, but the best was when our whole family went to Georgia for my cousin’s graduation. We kids were staying at the house with my grandma while the other adults were out, and Grandma made us do a tornado drill in the hallway. Our parents came back to us squatting in the hallway with our arms over our heads. We all thought Grandma was a little weird for that – truth is we were probably getting on her nerves and she probably was laughing the whole time.

  • http://swedishpankakes.blogspot.com Swedish Pankakes

    A tornado touched down when I was really young. For the longest time, I had visions of a giant TOMATO roaming the streets, throwing angry tomato seeds at houses and causing it to rain.

  • joy

    hmmmm. I do remember pooping in a plastic baseball hat and then emptying it into the toilet for probably a good year as a child. I’d heard that a rat came through the sewer into the pipes and bit a man on the ass. In New York or someplace like that. I lived in rural North Carolina. Was I surprised when I was diagnosed with general anxiety and panic disorder as an adult? I’d been waiting my whole life . . .

  • Ariel

    In Michigan we went into the halls of the school for the tornado drill. Then we had to get on the floor & tuck our heads onto our knees & cover head with our arms….. not a fun way to sit for ten minutes! The worst was when there was a warning (tornado sighted) we had to stay that way for two hours, until it lifted… not that it would have mattered…. I was on the third floor of the school, duck & cover doesn’t do much good up there! :)

    as far as weird kid fears, I was sure our house would burn down… I spent YEARS with all my favorite toys wrapped in a blanket at the foot of my bed & had an escape out the window plan all worked out! :) so silly!

  • Shannon

    you should’ve ended this post with a “You should have been there” because I imagine it seemed funny to you at the time, in the moment…this is not the funniest story you’ve written, in fact for the website it’s rather “eh”

    but maybe that’s just because the preceding posts were AMAZING (in every aspect, whit, humor, intelligence, composure)

    I’m glad you’re back to writing more frequently again but hope you’re not just writing to write. if that makes ANY sense.

  • http://www.iambossy.com/ BOSSY

    Yep, that just makes Bossy want to marry Jon all over again! Oh wait, Bossy isn’t married to Jon.

  • Alyssa

    Oh boy, do I remember tornado drills. Having grown up in Georgia, right at the end of tornado alley, it seems like at least 6 times a year we were huddled along the hallway without windows in school, kneeling with our hands over our heads to protect ourselves from falling debris, i guess.

    And so many times the real tornado warnings would sound and we’d be out there, freaking out that we would get blown away and die AT SCHOOL. Awful.

    My house growing up was less than a mile from the fire station with the tornado siren, and they would test it (and still do) every Wednesday at noon. The sound still gives me goosebumps.

  • Sherri

    RE: #4 & #5 because that’s as far as I got….

    I live in Canada. My brother moved to Seattle maybe 10 years ago. He said when he experienced his first earthquake, he was doing what he was told and ran to stand in an open doorway. Also said he was almost trampled to death as the rest of the building ran outside. I say: do what you do. If you’re meant to fall into the earth or blow away, so be it.

    Glad I’m not a receipt…but if I was, I’d be grateful to have Leta around to save me. Seriously – she’s so funny :)

  • Brad

    Wow… What’s a parent to do? So do you comfort her, then let her out of her seat and let her go rescue the receipt so she can see a fix or what? I would think positive action might be better than any words of comfort but I dunnoh.

    One of my neices was scared to death of getting sucked down the toilet, down the bathtub drain, sliding through a crack in a foot bridge, you name it – if “going away” down a hole of any sort was involved it frightened her silly.

    Good luck, but Leta will be fine no doubt – she is well loved and cared for and for most of us that does the trick!

  • Faithstwin

    I have said the same prayer before I go to bed every night that I ‘created’ when I was about 8 or 9- because I hated throwing up.

    Every now and then, even though I am 35, I still have one of those fleeting thoughts while in a bathroom in public: what happens if some disaster strikes while I am sitting here doing my thing? Freaks me out.

  • Toni Clark

    OMG!! It’s crazy to me that people DON’T know what tornado drills are. I live in a town near Birmingham, AL. Tornados hit here so often that we would have drills atleast one time every two weeks at school. We would all line up against the cinder block walls in the school halls. We then had to put our heads between our knees and I swear that was one of the worst things that I ever had to do while in school. We would all gasp for air once we got up.

  • http://acautionaryblog.wordpress.com/ Cautionary Girl

    Maybe she’s excessively afraid of litter that cannot be easily retrieved?

    I grew up in Oklahoma. When the sirens would go off, my little brother would run through the house screaming. It was awesome.

  • Brad

    And oh yeah… I grew up in Tornado Alley in the Panhandle of Texas and was a part of the school days duck and cover tornado drill ritual, town alarm was tested every Saturday at noon, etc. I actually stood on the steps of the concessions stand at the local ball park and watched a couple of tornados twist away out southwest of town. Someone said, “Shouldn’t we get to a cellar or something?” and one of the old timers standing there said, “Nah, them are at least ten miles from here, best to wait and see.” Funny now, but then not so much.

  • Marie

    I had so many little fears growing up. Shoot, I still do..hence the weekly therapy. It is great though that she has you two as her parents. You accept her for who she is..fears and all. Luckily I grew out of all of my fears except one major one…get ready…..it is crazy…..throwing up. HA! It is called emetephobia I suppose. Growing up I was constantly afraid I would throw up or someone around me would. I am 32 and I still get thrown into a panic when my hubby says his stomach hurts. haha. We are strange creatures. :)

  • Amanda

    I’ve lived in Kansas all my life and I STILL get scared every spring when I know I’m going to hear that tornado siren about once a week!

    The worst is when they are just testing the sirens (as they do the first wednesday of every month) and it happens to be dark and stormy outside. You’re not sure WHAT to believe then! =)

  • Megan

    Tornado drills!!!! I completely forgot about those! And what is with all of these people that were taught to hide under their desks??? In all of the classrooms I had there were WINDOWS (you know, things that pieces of paper can blow out of…or trees can blow into…) so we were taught to go in the hallway, head against lockers. Gotta love the South. Thanks for bringing back the memory! PS Leta’s neuroses are adorable…I’m sure they will only multiply with time =)

  • paper_phoenix

    Oh, to have Jon’s naivete about tornado drills! Growing up in the northern Indiana, tornadoes were serious business. Maybe that had to do with way too many of the adults being able to remember the Palm Sunday tornadoes intimately, but the fact remains that every kid in that area knew what to do if a tornado hit before they made it through kindergarten. It might have even had a section on the ISTEP, I can’t remember now.

    There are only two that I remember being close to home: The first was when I was very young, and I remember the sky being an unnaturally green, and that the yard was covered in hailstones afterward. The second was when I was in high school, and I was at work for the duration, so I missed the show. When I got home, I discovered that the tree out in front of my house had fallen on a car that had been driving down the road, crushing it. The driver and passenger survived, but the car didn’t.

  • Suzanne

    I also have a 10 year old daughter who is terrified of the wind. We don’t know what to do with her. I know that if we lived in a tornado state, she would be a raving lunatic!
    A few days ago, she saw the Salt Lake City tornado on the news and cried, thinking it would happen again. Let’s hope it doesn’t. I’m not sure she would survive!

  • Catherine

    I had a number of neuroses as a kid – some of the same ones as your other readers… heart stopping at night, stopping breathing, sharks in the pool (who knew they could survive chlorine…) but the most bizarre was due to reading a kid’s horror story where a hand-made doll came to life and killed people (this was before Chucky…). I was terrified of china dolls and would also have to say goodnight and kiss all my dolls and stuffed animals before going to sleep. I thought that if I missed one, it would attack me in my sleep…

    In spite of this, I am leading a reasonable normal existence!!

  • Kate

    For our elementary school tornado drills we’d all file into the bathroom and go into “child’s pose” on the floor. Seriously. They taught us to stick our foreheads on the bathroom floor. I hadn’t thought of it until this moment, but living through a tornado probably would have been safer than coming nose-to-nose with whatever germs were on that tile.

    Also: Toilet prayer and Bathtub bedtime? AMAZING.

  • http://www.thelocalsloveit.com Erin@TheLocalsLoveIt

    Growing up in Michigan I was terrified of storms. I’ve been known to sleep in the tub too. With my tennis shoes on. You know, in case you got struck by lightning.

  • http://thismommysjourney.blogspot.com Jessica

    Ahhh isn’t that cute.. A door way.. Nope huddled masses.. Grew up in Alabama and we did these.. There was always kids that hadn’t showered or some boy who thought it was funny to fart. I remember riding out a storm in the hall way.. Geez that was awful. After that we got sent home for incoming storms.

  • Meghann

    I wonder how many kids raised in the south spent their childhood terrified of pending death-by-tornado. I was raised in Texas, and my sister and I (on more than one occasion) wrecked our mother’s bathroom dragging her full-sized mattress to the bathtub after seeing tornado warnings on TV. (Because, as you know, only a bathtub and magic mattress will save you from a tornado!)

  • http://elephantsoap.com Cindy

    We live on the west side of the main path of the May 3rd tornado in Oklahoma City. Every thing to the east of us was demolished. My husband and I still tend to go outside when the sirens go off (very much like like Cletus, the slack-jawed-yokel). We’ve lived in various crap-shacks over the last few years and none of them had any real safe place to go to during a tornado. Chris has all of these pictures of me and the dog wearing helmets and sitting…in a closet…in a bathtub. I’m sure if we had children we would take the sirens very, very seriously.

  • Schmoo

    We live NE of Detroit and my 7 year old daughter freaks when the tornado sirens go off! And they go off for testing at 1:00 PM every first Sat. of the month… and everytime we go over the same drill… it’s only a test. It goes off for severe t-storms too and that’s been twice this summer of her flipping out on us.
    At our schools they not only have fire and tornado drills, but they now have stranger drills too… everyone under the desks, don’t say a word and do not let anyone into the room. SCARY!!! I was shocked, but I did go to school before school shootings were even thought about!

  • Lorna

    I lived in Texas from 6th-11th grade, and our schools were just 1 giant building with many hallways. The middle hallways had no windows, so for our tornado drills, we all had to go to the bottom level, middle hallway, and crouch in ‘crash’ position – on our knees, forehead touching your knees, hands clasped behind your necks to protect it from being crushed by falling building. But the best part is that we were 4-5 students deep so that if you weren’t lucky enough to already be downstairs, your nose was ass-deep in someone’s, well, ass! And being kids, how often do you think the boys took the opportunity to fart on whomever was behind them? Very. F-ing. Often. For the love of God, Texas.

  • http://merrilymarylee.wordpress.com Mary Lee

    Anyone else who slept with the covers up to her nose lest Jesus’ robe or guardian angel’s wings brush up against you? I had feather pillows on my bed and every now a then, a little feather would work its way out and scare the hell out of me. I might have gotten a lot more sleep had I been raised by agnostics.

  • Carmen

    Leta has such a big heart :D
    Totally unrelated now: How many people have told you that you look like Metric’s Emily Haines (or she looks like you)? Could it be that my favorite blog and one of my favorite bands are run by the same awesome person?

    Huh, Emily, I mean Heather?


  • Jill K

    Wow, this took me back. My daughter had a similiar phobia (right around the same age, I think), and I still get teary-eyed thinking of her on our deck, crying and saying “Noooo!” over and over, trying futilely to scoop all the pretty Fall leaves into her arms because the wind was blowing them away. It killed me. It still kills me to think about it. I just want to fix it for her.

    The “wind” phobia was much better than the phobia where she refused to walk on the floor because she wasn’t exactly sure what was underneath the carpet. Could be a black hole, you know. ;)

  • Kim

    I teach at a school in Seattle, where we have monthly earthquake drills. During every drill, without fail, one of my first graders says in a quivering voice, “is it a real earthquake?”

  • Anonymous

    Did you, by chance, take her to see that movie “Up”?
    Just wondering.

  • http://www.laughinginthewind.blogspot.com Alayna

    That is too funny! It is definitely a good thing that y’all don’t livein West Texas where not only wind, but also tornadoes are a regular part of life. It reminded me of my cousin’s neurosis that her earrings were going to blow out of her ears, which is not unreasonable in west Texas. Also, we left Texas and I was teaching school in Kentucky, and I said something to my students about a dust storm, and they didn’t know what I was talking about! Shock! It just never ocurred to me that this wasn’t normal for everyone. They wondered if dust fell from the sky like rain. Cute. Like Jon. Here in the south, we just say, bless their hearts.

  • http://leftherwits.blogspot.com/ Aly

    Hahaha! I totally prayed on the toilet, too! What are the odds?

  • susanvl

    When my daughter was 4 she hit a stage where every time we got in the car after preschool she was quizzing me on what would or would not blow away in a tornado. After a week or so of this very consistent line of questioning, I called my husband (usually at the root of such obsessions) and asked “Dude, why is your daughter so obsessed with tornados?” After a few seconds he responds with “Ohhhh, maybe it was when she watched Twister with me a couple weeks ago…” Beat head against steering wheel…….

  • Sarah

    My two year old acknowledges only three kinds of bugs: ants, caterpillars and spiders. However many insects we run across in our average day, he labels one of the three.

    Any bug that scares him automatically earns the title: Spider. We have at least 100 false spider alerts a day during the summer when we’re outside most of the day.

    One evening last week, he started screaming and flailing around: “Spider in ear! Spider in ear!” I told him there weren’t any spiders in his ears, but he kept screaming and flailing so I finally checked him out.

    Inside of his ear lobe, a large mosquito was having a snack. I hurried the bug away and explained that it was a mosquito, not a spider. But this was little comfort to a child who knows a spider when he sees / hears one.

    Since then, every day he comes sqauwking about spiders in ear! And a few nights ago, I myself had a terrible nightmare about spiders in my ears.

    I finally could share in his terror.

    As a side note, my bizarre childhood phobia was Santa Claus. My mother used to hate the Christmas season when I was small because my older brother once told me: “He’s watching you while you poop!” Oh, I hated that creepy Santa Claus.

  • Jennifer W.

    Wow! I had a great time reading all the comments–and the post. No alarms where I grew up–just the testing of the fire whistle at noon every day. That’s about three miles from the house, so it was fairly faint.

  • http://winginiteveryday.blogspot.com/ Jocelyn Stott

    hahahaha – so cute. I grew up in Oregon and we have about 5,000 earthquake drills by the time are 5. And – their special life-saving tip? Get under our desks. That’s right – the same desks they told us not to sit on because they will break are the same desks that are meant to save our lives as the world around us comes crashing down. Gotta love it.

  • Lizzie

    I know you love Jon, but I gotta worry for you— two words: natural selection… ;-)

  • Cordova

    whoa, my daughter has the same exact phobia. i think it all started when she saw our tent in the backyard sort of floating around in the wind. she completely lost her sh*t. ever since then, she becomes unhinged when things rustle in the slightest breeze. it took me forever to figure out why she refused to draw pictures outside. (the paper might fly away, you see). she even refused to have anything to do with helium-filled balloons for a while, because the idea that they would float away if you let go of them was too terrifying to even comprehend.