Yesterday, I spent a chunk of the afternoon trying to convince my four-year-old that wolves don’t come out when it thunders outside. I discovered last night that I was wrong.
Foreshadowing the Storm
For days now, Jude has been warning us of the coming storm. With wide eyes, he has reminded us of what he had seen in a weather forecast,
“Thunder and lightening is coming!”
With open eyes and a serious tone, he had warned Daddy the day before,
“You have to stay home tomorrow. You can’t go to work. The thunder is coming.”
Then yesterday, as we all were reading books, Jude confided in me the reason the thunder would be such a great problem. When the thunder came, the wolves came out.
I looked at him a bit perplexed. I wondered why he believed that.
“Where did you find out about that, Jude? Did you see it in a book or on TV?”
“TV,” he answered with squinting, perhaps questioning-himself eyes.
“Well, that’s not real,” I assured. “Wolves don’t actually come out in our neighborhood when the thunder comes out.”
“But they do,” piped in his older brother.
I looked at both, perplexed to the core.
“There aren’t wolves here,” I assured. “It was just on TV. It wasn’t real. Where wolves do live, they often hide during a storm to stay safe, just like we do.”
The Power of Unbelief
I searched his unbelieving eyes. I tried again.
“You don’t have to be afraid of wolves coming out when you see lightening and hear thunder.” They don’t come out during a storm. Don’t worry.”
I had a feeling that he still wasn’t convinced, but I’d said all I felt could be said, so we went on reading.
Off To Bed
That night, as Adam and I pulled the covers up and began to settle in to rest, the rain began to pound heavy and turn to the ping, then thunk of hail. Adam commented that the boys would be scared tonight.
I laughed a bit as I assured him he was right. Even more so because of the situation with Jude today. I explained it briefly, still wondering at how Jude did not believe me when I assured him wolves wouldn’t come.
11:56 PM. Wolves. With the Thunder.
I was awakened by the pitter-patter of little feet coming in our room, and raised my head to try to make out the height of the little shadow making its way across our room to my side of the bed. Jude.
“Mommy, It’s scary.”
“Come here, it’s okay.” Noticing he needed a new pull-up, I asked him to go get a new one from his closet.
“Will you please come with me? I’m scared,” was the reply.
“Of course.” As we entered his room, I was shocked at the abrupt, jarring sounds of the storm. The wind was pelting hail and rain at his window, making a tumultuous noise. No wonder he was scared! I wondered at how Elijah slept through it, being on the same side of the house. In the background of the thunder and rain and all the loud, I randomly heard sounds of an emergency vehicle, but I couldn’t quite place it and went on with the process of getting a new pull-up.
We moved our way to take a quick bathroom break before heading back to bed. In my bathroom,, we heard the howling, slowly rising, wailing sound more distinctly as it rose amid the thunder and tumultuous rain.
“See Mommy?,” he said with conviction. “The wolves!”
Of course! Wolves. The tornado alarm sounded just like them.
Our Hero and Protector.
He had come to me for safekeeping, but our little four-year-old was the one doing the safe-keeping- insisting on thunderwolves that I’d spent daylight attempting to convince him did not exist- the ones that made a thunder storm oh so much more terrifying. His persistence to cling to the reality he knew to be true (even though he was too young to have a complete idea of what was happening) enabled us to be sure we were safe during a tornado warning.
My eyes shone in the dark as I turned to him with an admiring tone,
“Jude, you were our protector tonight. You told me about the scary sound, and you were right, even when I didn’t believe you. I didn’t know what you meant. But you were right, there is a sound that sounds like wolves that sometimes comes with the thunder. It isn’t wolves, but it is scary, and it warns us of great danger. You were right to tell me and to keep believing what you knew. Thank you for coming and telling me tonight that you’d heard them. You were right, and you protected us greatly tonight.”
I could make out his little shoulders raising and straightening a bit, but it was too dark to see clearly see his smile as its shadow broadened across his face. Little Jude had persisted. He was our hero last night.
Believing, Even When We Don’t Understand
I remember not being believed as a kid- at a few different junctures. I still remember them quite clearly, even though for some I was quite young. It’s something you don’t forget. For one, I had tried to explain an experience I’d had, but I was told it must have been a dream. It had felt too real to have been a dream. No amount of assuring could convince. And it wasn’t appropriate to keep trying, anyway. Years later, my brother attested to the experience unwittingly, and I felt assurance rising in my little soul. I had been right. Even though I wasn’t believed.
I had unwittingly created a similar experience for my son. I hope to never do it again. It is damaging to a little soul when they are not believed just because an adult doesn’t understand or they don’t have the words or schema yet to make it clear. Even more damaging are the times when adults call them liars. How sad when a child begins to question their reality just because an adult does not take the time or have the capacity to discover what the child is trying to convey. My heart aches when I consider all the times this has happened when children who were trying to communicate sexual assault or other damaging situations only to walk away without the protection they’d come for- simply because someone didn’t take the time to understand or refused to believe.
Trust The Little Soul
God can give us wisdom to discern if our children are making something up or lying to protect themselves. Even in those situations, it is wise to create an environment where they are not accused of being liars but rather admit to their lie on their own.
He can also give us discernment to take more time when our children are afraid or hurting but we can’t completely comprehend why. It has been my experience that more often than not, we should trust the little soul. Our children can be our heroes. And we can be theirs.
Jude was certainly ours last night.
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- 5 Ways to Engage With your Kids