the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Smarter than a second grader

I posted earlier that a thunderstorm passed over the valley this morning, and at lunch I was telling Tyrant about Leta’s reaction to the menacing sounds. Some kids will never see snow in their lives, or when they do it will be such an extraordinary experience that they will exhibit the look that Leta had on her face this morning when she heard thunder, the one a college kid has when he buys bad weed from his roommate and suddenly his goldfish starts talking to him in Spanish.

HOLA, AMIGO. ¿Dónde está la biblioteca?

Thunderstorms just don’t happen with any frequency here in the valley, meaning hardly ever. At first Leta expressed horror, and I was busy getting the car ready to back out of the driveway. So I explained thunder in an absentminded, stream of consciousness kind of way: “It’s like, when two air masses of different temperatures come together—”

“THAT’S HOW A TORNADO HAPPENS!” she yelled from the backseat. Why, yes. That is exactly how I explained tornados to her. Nice save, Sherlock.

“Wait!” I said as I stopped the car halfway out of the garage. “Lightning! Thunder is the sound lightning makes.” And then I thought maybe I should tell her that lightning is made out of milk chocolate to soften the blow, but she’s old enough to understand basic science. SHIT.

“Lightning doesn’t make a sound,” she said as if I didn’t graduate college with honors.

“Yes, it does,” I began to explain. “But light travels faster than sound, so you see lightning before you hear it.” Unless, of course, it’s striking the top of your head, but I didn’t say that out loud! PHEW! Brain cells to spare! DRINKS ARE ON ME TONIGHT!

She sat with that for a second, and it’s when I pulled onto the street that she said, “That really needs to happen more often.”

She decided lightning and thunder are cool. And I didn’t even have to build a bomb shelter stocked with root beer floats and episodes of iCarly.

I told this story at lunch when suddenly Tyrant finished chewing a bite of salad and shook his head. “So you lied to her?”

“What do you mean I lied to her?” I asked.

“Thunder is when two clouds run into each other. You know, BOOM.” And he clapped his hands together loudly not two inches from my face as if BOOM is not an onomatopoeia.

I looked directly at him and then pulled the collar of my shirt over my face to emphasize the fact that I was laughing so hard.

“Whatever.” He waved his hand, yanked out his phone and immediately googled something that pulled up a Yahoo! answers page. “Let me read you some of these… wait… ‘It comes from the sky.’ WELL, NO SHIT. Wait, give me a second… wait… here… ‘The sound that happens when two clouds crash into each other.’ See? Someone agrees with me.”

“Let me guess. His username is SHITFORBRAINZ?”

“Well, it took you a few attempts to explain it correctly to her.”

He’s right. It did. And I have no excuse other than sometimes the science I learned 25 years ago is lodged in the part of my brain that is now getting pinched by the lobe that is full of the names of Angelina Jolie’s children and the latitude and longitude of where each of them was born.

  • tokenblogger

    2012/03/26 at 2:57 pm

    That was the first time I’ve LOL’d while reading this blog in long time.

    Thanks, Tyrant!

  • 1greenblogger

    2012/03/26 at 3:29 pm

    My mother told me it’s two clouds banging back together, after they split apart and let the lightning through. When I was twelve, and found out she wasn’t telling the truth, I was really, really mad at her.

  • ChickWhitt

    2012/03/26 at 3:31 pm

    Duh, it’s really the angels in heaven bowling, and the thunder is when they get a strike.

    What kind of former Mormon are you anyway???


  • Gemmyner

    2012/03/26 at 4:01 pm

    I’m with ChickWhitt. And I’m not Mormon nor was I ever Mormon.

    According to Wikipedia:”Thunder is the sound made by lightning.”

  • luv and kiwi

    2012/03/26 at 4:41 pm

    @1greenblogger I swear it’s like you’re describing a fart 🙂

  • specialkrispy

    2012/03/26 at 5:01 pm

    With ChickWhitt, I’m surprised that God or people in heaven bowling didn’t make it into this discussion. Wait, well, maybe not.

  • jan001

    2012/03/26 at 5:43 pm

    When I got spooked about thunder and lightning when I was maybe 5, my mom – without missing a beat – said, “The thunder is just warning all the bunnies and squirrels and birds that it’s going to rain and then the lightning comes so they can see their way home in time.”

    Totally satisfied me. I was too little to extrapolate and do “what if”. I just stopped being scared.

    Many many years later I mentioned that story to her and told her how well it had done to stop me being afraid, and asked her if that’s what her mother had told her.

    “Hell, no. You caught me totally off-guard and I had to come up with something fast.”

    Well, nice save, Mom!

  • SparkleP

    2012/03/26 at 6:59 pm

    I’m so glad you got custody of Tyrant. :*) Great story!

  • LadyJules

    2012/03/26 at 7:18 pm

    Want to freak the kid out totally? Let her experience thundersnow! That’s some freaky shit!!

  • JenS

    2012/03/26 at 8:15 pm

    I’m with everyone who said “angels bowling.” I believed my Mom for a long ass time on that one. Man, I was a stupid kid.

  • AimeeInSpain

    2012/03/27 at 5:22 am

    Heather, the first thing that came to mind when I read your first post was, “wow! she remembers her Earth Science lessons!!?” — gotta to say it’s a relief to know that you didn’t explain it correctly at all. Aren’t you lucky to have Tyrant?

  • Poele

    2012/03/27 at 5:48 am

    Good article, i like ^^

  • Janie1224

    2012/03/27 at 7:30 am

    I read a great thunder analogy for kids. That thunder is like when you get a small electric static shock sometimes from shuffling across the carpet and you hear a little snap. Only lightning is much bigger so it’s much louder.

  • geelizzie

    2012/03/27 at 11:22 am

    Yes, it is indeed the angels bowling, at least that’s what my dad always told us.

    We don’t get much thunder where I live either, and when we do every cat in the house is like WTF! Then they hide under the bed where it is safe.

  • LegosnEggos

    2012/03/27 at 12:22 pm

    I can so relate to this post! I’ve got so many gaps in my knowledge — some that were always there and some that have eroded and split over the years since school ended. Thank God for kids to keep our synapses firing and friends to admonish us when we’re sincerely but lovably stupid, huh. 🙂

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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