Sometimes Moms make mistakes.
Sometimes Moms have inadvertently terrible timing.
These things could both be said of me on Wednesday, but I’m going to choose to blame Noah instead.
You see, we had to do an errand. And he decided to wear his extraordinarily dapper hat that Chris and I bought him last year when we went to Isla Mujeres.
The kid looked amazing.
And I hadn’t taken any pictures of him lately.
On top of that, we had no plans for the rest of the day, and we were very near Aldridge Gardens – the perfect place to photograph a child when they’re looking ridonkulously fabulous.
So it would be dual purposed: we’d get outside and take a small hike, and I’d get some pictures of the kid.
Of course he didn’t make this easy on me. He in fact drove a very hard bargain.
“I’ll let you take pictures of me in my hat if you give me 100 pieces of candy.”
“I don’t have 100 pieces of candy.”
Ali: “Just get him a box of Nerds, Mom.”
(She’s so smart.)
Before I answered, he counter-offered, seemingly not wanting Nerds.
“I’ll let you take my picture if you let me pick out one piece of candy on our way home. Whatever I want.”
“Fair enough. I can do that.”
So he grabbed his hat out of the car and we headed toward the entrance of the gardens.
He wanted to get the picture taking out of the way as soon as possible (because he wanted to put his hat back in the car because difficult), so he posed for me two inches past the entrance.
Yes, I’d made a good deal.
I told him I needed a close-up, so he became wiggly and found all his silly faces.
He found great pleasure in the fact that he was being difficult to photograph, and laughed a mirthful, evil cackle.
The irony was not lost on me.
I finally got the shot I was looking for,
And he went back to the car to drop off the hat.
After all the bargaining, silly faces, and hat putting-up, some rumbling thunder could be heard off in the distance. As we walked back in, I mentioned it to the gentleman that works at the garden gates.
“It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to stay very long…”
“Oh, I think you’ll be fine. It looked like that earlier, too, then just sprinkled for a minute and was gone.”
I checked my radar. Off to the west was the usual summer pop-up storm that lasted 5 minutes and was entirely unpredictable in the direction it would choose to travel.
So we strolled back into the garden, reveling in the lovely day.
It started sprinkling as we were headed toward the lake, so I said “let’s go in the boathouse for a minute until it dries up again.”
The kids happily ran toward the little open-air house that sat out over the lake. It’s the best place to observe and feed turtles and fish and in general enjoy the view out of the sun or rain.
Ali dug some crackers out of her Mary-Poppins-like bag and they happily threw crumbs on the turtles, cooing at the tiny babies. I took pictures of the calm sprinkles on the lake. It was a perfect summer shower.
Until very suddenly it wasn’t.
The rain cranked up to a level that was so heavy that you couldn’t see the fountain, and the lightning definitively reached our location. Soon, the wind was blowing in the open sides, the thunder reverberating all around us, and my children were no longer enjoying their stay in the boathouse.
But we were trapped.
The rain was way too heavy to make a run for the car, a quarter of a mile away, and even too heavy to make a run for the house on the hill (home of the public bathrooms and gift shop) and OHMYGOODNESS DID THAT LIGHTNING JUST STRIKE THE HOUSE UP THERE??
It didn’t, I don’t think, but it was seriously close to it.
The lightning and thunder were now nearly on top of each other, and it seemed like we were surely next on its hit list. I listened nervously to the rain pounding on the metal roof above our head. I texted Chris electrical engineering questions.
Chris and I both kept assuming that this thing would pass over any minute. ANY MINUTE. Summer storms do not stick around to attack unsuspecting families in boathouses.
The minutes ticked by, except instead of ticking, they thundered by. See my little blue dot below? Just barely under all that lightning? Yeah. I didn’t even know my radar had that purplish color in the middle of the storm.
The thunder got closer and louder to the point that each peal of thunder was followed by my son’s impressive high-pitched scream. Have I ever told you how very much noise rips my soul to pieces?
Chris kept watching the radar for us and willed that storm to move on.
I couldn’t look at the apparently lying radar myself because…Noah’s arms had gotten tired.
After fifty minutes filled with a “pop-up storm” and my son’s screams and stomps and declaring it “your WORST ADVENTURE EVER, Mom!”, the rain finally let up a tiny bit. I measured it as “light enough to make it to the house but not to the car without my camera getting ruined” (it was safely put away in its carrying case but still. This was some seriously submersion-determined rain.)
We ran up the hill and splashed into the nice, dry house. The kids immediately began emptying the paper towel rolls to dry themselves, then plopped onto the floor and began playing cards.
One of the garden’s administrative staff walked through and was a bit surprised to see us on the floor of her bathrooms. We explained. She gasped.
“Oh! I thought I heard screams from my office and I was wondering where they were coming from…”
She disappeared around the corner and came back bearing a bouquet of lollipops.
“Each of you take one. I hear it can help with the trauma.”
She was the garden’s Professor Lupin, giving out chocolate after a dementor attack.
About a half hour later, we were able to make a run for the car, splashing through giant puddles on the way.
We found out later that our storm had seriously flooded the lower lying areas surrounding us – to the point of cars getting pulled into the (usually tiny) creek and carried downstream, turning flips as they went. The bowling alley, a couple car dealerships, some offices, and Chuck E Cheese were all completely flooded.
(Although Chris and I agreed that The Chuck was probably now cleaner than it had been in years. Maybe decades.)
I made a bad decision that day.
But I got this picture.
So there’s that.
Epilogue: Noah chose Bubble Tape for his candy bribe. Ali also got candy for surviving the incident with a bit more grace than her brother. For my prize, I chose spending the rest of the day reading in bed.