Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow & Irrational Panic

This was yesterday. Beautiful, freshly-fallen snow.
There was a two-hour snow delay from school, but I decided to keep the kids home all day since I didn't want to get stuck on the hill in my minivan like last year.

Gabe was the first to get bundled up to go out in it. The cousins-down-the-hill had invited them over to sled in their yard, and so I sent him out bravely alone, down the back path to their house, telling him to stay off the roads as much as possible (due to skidding vehicles).

(Their house is down in that valley just beyond the line of arborvitae trees.)

After Gabe left, I started thinking: "I hope he gets there okay. I'd better call down there and make sure he made it. Make sure he's not lying in a crevice somewhere with a broken leg." (There are not many crevices in between our house and theirs, but you have to leave room for a mama's overactive imagination.)

Well, I didn't call down there. Instead, I busied myself in the kitchen. My older girls woke up and wanted to eat. Then they also wanted to head down to go sledding.

I bundled them up and sent them out, adding as an afterthought: "Olivia, help your little sister down the hill and if for some reason Gabe is not at the cousins' house, please call me so I can search the crevices for him."

Ten minutes later, Olivia came home to put on more clothes. About five minutes into this endeavor she mentioned, "Oh, and Anna's waiting down in the Taylor's yard so she didn't have to come up the hill."

"Where's Gabe?"

"I don't know. I didn't see him. The cousins were leaving when we got there."

"And you didn't see Gabe?"

"No, I didn't see him at all."

"He's not down playing in the cousins' yard?"


Now, usually, I'm not a freak-out-first-think-later type of person. Usually I would have used my brain instead of my emotions to make a rational decision about what to do next. However, due to recent sleep deprivation and I'm sure the added hormonal imbalance of being eight months pregnant, I totally flipped out.

"Quick! Get your clothes on! Sophie! We need to get dressed! We need to go out and find your brother who's lost in the snow!"

Several minutes later, Sophie, Olivia and I are slipping and sliding down the back path towards the cousins' house, checking the crevices. The path was very steep and covered in at least a foot of snow. After our first joint fall, Sophie was screaming. After our second joint fall, I was wailing like a banshee: "Olivia, please heeeelp me!" Olivia came to our rescue several times, saving me once from falling into a crevice.

We got down to the Taylor's yard, met up with Anna. I asked our neighbor if she'd seen Gabe, but she hadn't. We traipsed down the road toward the cousins' house. Sophie slipped on the icy road, and after that couldn't stop crying.

We arrived to find the cousins' car still in the driveway and most of the cousin population out in the front yard.

My first hollered question was: "Have you seen Gabe?"

Abby, the oldest, responded: "Aunt Amy, we can't play right now. We're leaving, but we'll be back in a few minutes to--"

"We are not here to play," I cried. "I want to know - have you seen Gabe?"

"Oh yeah, he's playing inside."


"My mom just told him he has to leave, so he's getting his shoes on."

This is where the extent of my idiocy sunk in. I saw Gabe wrestling with his mittens in the doorway. My heart did that flip-flop of relief and ... the kind of frustration that comes after suffering through something completely unnecessary.

Morals to this story:
(1) Never rely completely on a nine-year-old's version of a story. They are usually a little confused.
(2) If there is snow on the ground, whenever possible use a phone to confirm said nine-year-old's story. (In this case, "the cousins are leaving" meant, "the cousins are leaving in the next half hour." For some reason, I heard it as: "the cousins are in the car, pulling out of the driveway.")
(3) Maybe it's better not to send a seven-year-old alone down a snowy slope when there are crevices involved.

We all survived. We limped back up the hill, but by road this time (because I realized everyone in our small town was staying home so there weren't a whole lot of skidding vehicles about). Sophie cried all the way. I looked like a bag-lady in my off-center beanie, my gaping coat, and yoga pants tucked into my boots. But we made it home alive. No one fell into a crevice. No bones were broken. No babies were prematurely born.

And for that, in this week when we focus on gratefulness, I am thankful.


  1. My heart was thudding in my chest until I got to the "Oh, he's playing inside." I think most mothers, pregnant or not, would have had exactly the same reaction.

    Glad all five children - and you - are safe and well:)

  2. Oh goodness. Isn't it insane how garbled stories can get when they come from a kid's mouth?

    Glad everything went okay, and you all made it home. (Sounds like you all must have been frozen popsicles by then!)

    Those are the times when I would think about giving my kid a cell phone - just for my own peace of mind! (Not that I would, I think that's too young - but I'm sure you get my point!)

  3. Oh you make me wish I were there to help. You needed a few more hands - or a phone, like you said. ;)

  4. I've been there, too. Not in the snow, but the running around in a panic thing. I'm so glad everyone is okay!

    And how nice to have cousins that close!

  5. Krista, I'm so glad you weren't thinking WHAT WAS HER PROBLEM. It's nice to know other people would've panicked too. That makes me feel a whole lot better!

    Jessica, Yeah, that's true. A mobile phone would've been ideal, but you're right, he's a bit young. :) He probably would've dropped the mobile phone down the crevice before it could've been useful to him. ha ha!

    MT, thank you! That's so sweet. I wish I could grow a few more pairs of hands. Or maybe I should clone myself for occasions like this. :)

    Kelly, Yes, it is really nice to have them so close. The way the valley is positioned, their voices even carry up to our yard when they're outside playing. Great accoustics. :)


  6. Oh Amy, I sympathise because I would have done exactly what you did!

  7. How funny, though I'm sure it didn't seem that way at the time. Poor you. And yes, I would have panicked too. I so would of freaked out!

  8. And oops, forgot to add, lucky you guys get snow! No snow for us here in Ontario!

  9. I was highly entertained reading your story because I am the worst mother in the world. I'd have gotten a cup of tea, put my feet up and said, "Gabe would show up."

    What a beautiful family you have! Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. Mimi, Oh good! I don't feel quite so silly. :)

    Esther, No snow yet, huh? Do you usually get a lot during the winter?

    Vijaya, That is what I would usually have done! I don't know what came over me yesterday. :) And that does not make you a terrible mom, just a laid-back one. LOL!


  11. amy, first of all... so glad to hear the ending of that story - that gabe was fine.

    second... 8 months pregnant and walkingg in the snow anywhere... falling down!? you're amazing. Im 28 weeks pregnancy and feel incapacitated!would never attempt to walk up and down any snowy hills!! you're amazing. love your adventurousness.

  12. Oh, man! I've been there before. I'm the type of mom who panics if the bus is five minutes late. Not very rational at all when it comes to my kids. ("They've stolen my baby!" or "They've wrecked!") So I hear ya.

    I'm glad you all survived and that the baby is still baking. :o)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Amy!!

  13. If you hadn't had "Irrational Panic" in your title, I'd have been panicking with you. I'm glad no one was seriously injured, though it sounds like it was traumatic for everyone but Gabe.

  14. Even though I knew the ending, my mind was racing, "Where is that kid?"

    So, glad that you all made it back home safely!

  15. Oh yeah! We get a lot of snow!!!!

  16. What a story! Oh my gosh. I'm glad ALL of you were just fine. Yes, our mommy brains (and pregnant brains) can get a little hazy.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  17. At least your kids got to go out and enjoy the snow. It was -37 C yesterday (with windchill). We made it to the second coldest place on the planet. Oh joy!

    Now it's warming up! Yay!!!