How do You Explain Disasters to Children? Here is our story…

 

The last week has been an emotional roller coaster for me as I watched my friends and family suffer through the Superstorm #Sandy. I am in no way comparing my own anxieties to those, who actually weathered this catastrophic cyclonic event.

 

There were many news stories and blog posts that moved me to tears and prayers as I felt so helpless watching and reading the raw accounts of Sandy battering away at the canyons of New York, the beach communities of both New York and New Jersey leaving damage, debris and death in its wake.

Many of the areas pounded were places where I or my family have a history. It makes me so sad to know that the young children affected by Sandy will never know the beach communities of their parents and their grandparents. Some are forever changed!

Seaside Heights, New Jersey

The ravages of Sandy have changed the face of the East Coast forever….although it will never be the same…I know it will still be good!

One of the saddest things, for me, is to think how much this storm of storms has effected the children of the East coast.

How do you explain the anger of Mother Nature to young children?

As unrealistic as this sounds, I would like to hear from families affected by Sandy to learn how their children are doing….especially the young ones 3 – 6 year olds.

I have a young preschool age granddaughter, who has been through power failures due to snow storms and summer storms…none fortunately have been the magnitude of “Superstorm” Sandy. As a family, we have had to retreat to our basement for tornado warnings but thankfully, that has always been short-lived and without a touchdown.

For the most part, we have made light of these weather events and explained the noise and power failures away, as a result of the thunder and lightening, which is when the dark rain clouds are fighting with each other and when they are so full of water the clouds explode pouring down rain.

Once, while in coastal Rhode Island during a rainy, windy, Nor’easter, I purchased a book about a mouse named Maisy…dear Maisy deals with different weather conditions.

My Friend Maisy

It is a very simple yet effective piece of children’s literature. It did just what I intended it to do…it made weather unpredictably fun…jumping in puddles in rain, flying kites in wind, and going to the beach in the sun.

Maisy the Mouse’s Weather

Change in weather in Maisy’s world merely means changes in the way we all decide what activities we will have fun doing that day.

The events of the past week and the fact that my granddaughter is now 4years old makes explaining Sandy and what has happened to those in her path somewhat more complicated than Maisy’s weather reports.

Since fortunately we, are not directly effected by Sandy, I am using this catastrophic storm and her aftermath as a learning experience within the framework of what a 4year old needs to know when they ask complicated questions that require only simple answers.

Because our family has been worried about family members and friends on the East Coast, we have chosen to tell a story about Sandy, the storm with the wind and rain that caused the lights to go out at some of our friends New York homes

One of my blogger friend’s in particular has chronicled her family’s evacuation experience. It has been a life changing event for her but an adventure for her kids. I am grateful to her for her frequent updates and her ability to express what was going on in her head while she was busy protecting her family of three children with the help of her husband from the fears and anxieties associated with evacuating from your own home where you are supposed to always be safe from harm.

I used her story to tell a version of it to my granddaughter…it has helped her understand somewhat, the storm known as Sandy.

Now if you are wondering …our story borrowed from Mommas Gone City, was about three children, who happen to be close in age to my little granddaughter…Joey 5, Chloe 4 and Zack 1…

Joey, Choe and Zack had to move to a hotel from their apartment located in a flood zone along NYC’s East River …from high up above the street in the hotel, they were able to see the rain and wind outside, remaining dry, warm  and cozy inside.

While they were safely sleeping, the East River was busy overflowing its banks turning the FDR drive into a rushing river…trapping some people in cars and SUVs.

" target="_blank">

As the three siblings cuddled together hoping for the sun to come out tomorrow, little did they realize, the angry East River was encroaching upon their apartment building which would cause the power to eventually fail.  The water would invade their building to make them homeless for almost a week.

As expected, the sun did come out in the morning and the children and their parents were able to return home…but when they got there the lights were off and the elevators were not running…there were also sandbags at the door to their lobby which had some water inside…they knew they were okay because mommy and daddy had candles and flashlights… they were able to find their toys and even their Halloween costumes, when then finally climbed all the stairs and reached their apartment.

So all was well in the children’s eyes and they “trick or treated” safely around their own apartment, when they got to their parents room they got candy along with lots of hugs.

But because the power was still off their home was no longer warm and cozy and the food was not either so mom and dad told, Joey, Chloe and Zack that they were going on vacation… they packed up the SUV and headed out of Manhattan over the George Washington Bridge and through New Jersey to Philadelphia…another big city where the power was working and things were pretty much normal.

This time mom and dad decided to stay at a special hotel…it was different from other hotels that they had visited, because it had a kitchen like home and it also had a washing machines down the hall…Joey and Chloe were so happy…they had their own bed and Zack had his port-a-crib. They told stories and made plans to visit special places in a new city, Philadelphia.

One of the stops on the agenda was the Children’s Museum where they could touch almost everything, afterwards they enjoyed a fun lunch…Philly has some good food! Mom and Dad loved the Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches while Joey and Chloe wolfed down hot dogs and well, baby Zack ate fries from everyone’s plate.

Just like always, Mom took lots of pictures, and at night they all told stories about the day’s adventures. The older kids agreed, this was the best vacation ever…mission accomplished by two very tired, emotionally drained parents, who, although very grateful that their home was spared the utter devastation that some New Yorkers experienced, were both very worried about when it would be safe to return home and just what they would find upon their arrival.

The adult side of the story is much more complicated. You see the medical centers near their home had both been evacuated, Bellevue and New York University Langone Medical Center were now essentially closed with no date projected for reopening. The news both national and local was not good…what was it going to be like going “home” and when would they be able to return there…the power was still off and it was almost a week since the storm struck.

After a almost a week in Philly…the restlessness was palpable to return to their beloved NYC…and then the news came….POWER IS BACK ON…. Lets get going!

Packed up they were all ready to return to Manhattan…the parents filled with trepidation…but full of determination to get back to a new “normal” if that is what it meant…and to help those who were not as fortunate when it came to weathering Sandy.

Joey and Chloe and Zak were ecstatic to see their home…high up over the East River and the FDR…it looked mostly the same to them…after all they had just come home from vacation…right… and mom and dad were with them along with their cat…who had never actually gone on vacation with them before!

That night they all went to bed in mom and dad’s room and looked out at the night sky and the lights…the Empire State building was RED WHITE and BLUE on top…it looked like a big Flag. WOW… it was good to be home!

I have to say that telling my little one this Sandy adventure with adult worries left out…helped me, a native New Yorker deal with yet another tragedy to befall my beloved City, one more time that I was only going to be able to help from afar.

New York was home to four generations of my family…they were among those, who helped to build NYC into the city that it is today.

I want to keep New York’s history alive and vibrant for my grandchild, so that she knows that her roots are solidly placed and even storms like Sandy can never change that for her.

 

Disclosure:

  • This blog post was inspired my MommasGoneCity, the story I told my granddaughter was driven by Jessica’s story surrounding the events of Hurricane Sandy and how they directly affected her family…I have used “child story teller license” to change around the actual facts and names.

 

  • I want to personally thank Jessica and her blog on Mommas Gone City for sharing the her family’s travails related to “Superstorm” Sandy.  Just as she kept her family in focus the entire time, I was able to teach my little grandchild about ”storms” and make them childhood events that, although scary when they are occurring, can be a source of adventure in their childlike perspective.

 

  • As a young nurse, I worked at NYU Langone Hospital… it holds a special place in my personal and professional life as I met my husband there and my beloved grandmother passed away there after receiving the best care that was available at the time.
  • As a graduate of NYU College of Nursing I am proud of the Dean’s statement of the College’s response to Sandy!

 

“I am very pleased with the important role NYUCN played in those efforts. On Thursday and Friday of last week, NYUCN student, administrator, and faculty volunteers joined forces with NYU leadership and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York to conduct door-to-door visits to older adults (200) who live in NYU apartments or in nearby high rises. Dean Amy Knowles lead this outstanding effort that helped identify health issues and bring essential services to those who needed them in the high rises. Throughout the two-day effort, our NYUCN graduate and undergraduate students were amazing! To witness their compassion, professionalism, and quick-thinking in difficult conditions was an inspiration to me, and a shining example of an NYUCN education in action!”

via Home | NYU College of Nursing.

  • I will be following certain mom bloggers and their stories as they try to get back to life as it is and will be in the shadow of Sandy. From time to time, I will post my thoughts to ease my own angst for these moms by sharing with all of you.

 

 

After Sandy…NYC

Photo borrowed from MommasGoneCity…

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth of July…and the Kid in Me!

July 2, 2012 by lorettelavine | Edit

Macy’s Fourth of July NYC

Hi…Happy Summer!

I have been looking around for activities to celebrate the Fourth of July, preschool style.

My search has yielded many neat things you can do with your child or in my case grandchild in preparation for the Fourth of July.

My favorite find, so far, is from Toddler Approved. It is beckoning the child in me to the arts and crafts store.

In the spirit of George Washington…I cannot tell a lie. This week, along with the many recollections of past Fourth of July celebrations, is one of my favorite weeks of the summer

Celebrating July 4th always brings with it a flood of memories …and thankfully creates many new ones as well.

Some of my past reminiscences include…

sparklers (back in the day) when fireworks were sold fairly freely,

Macy’s spectacular fireworks on the Hudson River,

1976 the year of the Bicentennial Tall Ships in the New York harbor.

Lower Manhattan-Fourth of July 1976,

The Fourth, Chicago style with a village parade followed by an evening picnic and Lakefront fireworks with a group of close friends.

 

Chicago Fireworks

This year will again be a celebration with friends culminating in a beautiful fireworks display in our own neighborhood

As Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever plays and the “bombs” burst in the air over head, I will be smiling and remembering  past celebrations while enjoying the sparkle in the eyes of my granddaughter as she watches her first fireworks.

Memories in the making…

What are some of your favorite Fourth of July memories?

How are you celebrating this year…any fun kids activities?

 

Town Mouse and Country Mouse…Which one are you?

NOTEWORTHY WEDNESDAY!

Recently, one of my tweets, was from a mom of three  who announced that NYC where she lives was in a way calmer than visiting her hometown in Northern California with her three young kids.

Now there were probably more reasons for this statement than I realized but I tried to understand what she meant through my own eyes and my own life experience as a mom and now a grandmother.

I grew up in a city of 300,000 just outside of NYC…sometimes it felt like just an extension of Manhattan and the Bronx… trains, buses, trolleys, subways, we walked to the grocery store or had groceries delivered…we walked to school and church…we walked and played in parks, visited a museum within walking distance of our apartment which also, to our delight, had a planetarium.  Although we had a car…we only had to use it to actually leave the city to visit relatives in the country.

We were apartment dwellers…2 bedrooms with a view of the Hudson River and the Palisade Mountains…we shared bedrooms and had a postage stamp of a kitchen out of which came all our meals…never take-out… there was one tiny bathroom, a living room and dinette.

Life was simple…clutter was a minimum…saving stuff was impossible…closets were shared so we had what we needed but not too much more. Food was bought every day…storage was limited.

After 30 years in New York with a four year college stay in Washington, D.C.…I moved with husband and my own family to the “country”. I had never ever lived in a house…what was a washing machine that was not coin-operated…where was the garbage chute? More importantly, where or where was the handyman when I needed one if not on the other end of the phone or an elevator ride away? Life was SO different…

Life in the suburbs or country with kids entails a myriad of stuff, more than a stroller…which in the city sometimes doubled as a laundry and grocery cart. Now we had cars…with car seats and loads of trunk space to fill with groceries and loads of kitchen space to store all the extras bought at the bountiful super giant food store….we had Walmart and now Costco…oh… but now after many years in the burbs our house now resembles Costco as we have filled every crevice, closet and corner with large sizes of everything.

Yes, I mean everything we could possibly need… only not to be able to find it when we do finally need it.

When our kids were young they slept in our bedroom many nights…I guess it was kind of like co-sleeping, back in the day. They usually made their way to the floor of our room with their pillows and blankets due to bad dreams or thunder storms. We could have saved a lot of money if we had only known that a two bedroom apartment was all we really needed back then.

Of course in the burbs it was impossible to walk anywhere…we drove our girls to school and everywhere else…no public transportation for them even if it was available…not even a school bus. After all no one else walked anywhere.

I think you can get the picture…country mice with a home filled with stuff, who forgot how to walk anywhere, bikes, scooters, and their own cars to drive to school when they got old enough. Suburban spoiled…

Often, I longed for a more simple life…less space to lose stuff … windows that had a cityscape view…people walking, horns honking, public transportation, cabs, little restaurants around the corner, small grocers where I would not be tempted to buy things I did not need and where nothing was so huge I could not carry it home.

For my kids…I longed for them to be able to walk to places like museums, stores, even to school if possible. As young children I would have enjoyed the city parks with them… I longed for Central Park… which was my idea of country in the middle of one of the best cities in the world.

Now, I long for a much smaller park like the one off of Lake Shore Drive a short walk from Water Tower in Chicago and the Oak St. Beach. I long to share my city life love with my granddaughter.

In my own way, I understand what my Twitter mom was tweeting…when she essentially said her NY city life was more calm than her week in the suburbs with her kids.

This City Mouse will hopefully return to city dwelling sooner than later…a little  lot older and wiser than she was when she was last an urbanite with much less stuff than she had as a suburbanite.

In the meantime…these stories come to mind.

via The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In the original tale, a proud town mouse visits a friend or relation in the country. The country mouse offers the city mouse a meal of simple country foods, at which the visitor scoffs and invites the country mouse back to the city for a taste of the “fine life”. But their rich city meal is interrupted by a couple of dogs which force the mice to abandon their feast and scurry to safety. After this, the country mouse decides to return home, preferring security to plenty or, as the 13th-century preacher Odo of Cheriton phrased it, “Id rather gnaw a bean than be gnawed by continual fear”.[2]

Beatrix Potter retold the story in The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918). In this she inverted the order of the visits, with the country mouse going to the city first, being frightened by a cat and disliking the food. Returning the visit later, the town mouse is frightened of the rain, the lawnmower and the danger of being stepped on by cows. The story concludes with the reflection that tastes differ. A segment from the tale was incorporated into the children’s ballet film The Tales of Beatrix Potter, danced by the Royal Ballet with choreography by Frederick Ashton (1971). The ballet was subsequently performed onstage in 1992 and 2007.

Are you a country or city mouse?

If you have children, where do you want to live and raise them?  Why?

Week in Review…Parenting in the Loop

Highlights of the week…sharing some of the videos and reads of the last few days.

Please enjoy this beautiful time-lapse video!

Exclusive breast-feeding may just be too hard, study says:

Progesterone…questionsl and answers.

It was a great week here in Chicago with weather that was over the top….I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

9/11…10 Years Later…Lessons Learned

NOTEWORTHY WEDNESDAY  THURSDAY!

This past Sunday was the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The horror of 9/11 will remain.

This year the surviving  families, children and spouses showed us all how life goes on and how they have managed to remember and honor their loved ones who perished on 9/11.

The surviving children that honored their parents at the memorial were inspirational…some knew their parent others did not  as they had not even born yet.

Children are remarkable and in their own way resilient.

Resilience is a word that is used often, but in my opinion it is a characteristic that is not well understood.

Each of us has the capacity for resilient behavior but it has to be nurtured in us.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity. An increasing body of research from the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and sociology is showing that most people–including young people–can bounce back from risks, stress, crises, and trauma and experience life success.

via Resiliency In Action.

It seems that some children function well after traumatic events and this is related to the way their parents’ have reacted to such events and the way they have been brought up to use adaptive coping responses.

It has been found:

When families and mothers ‘did well,’ so did their children. Conversely, families and mothers who showed negative posttraumatic reactions had children who showed similar negative outcomes.

An array of protective characteristics or factors has been identified in resilient children. They are present at the individual, family, and community level and contribute, together, to adaptation following trauma during childhood:

(1) trauma characteristics;

(2) the child’s own resources;

(3) the child’s family characteristics;

(4) the community support (i.e. from teachers, peers, friends, mentors); and

(5) developmental path.

via Children’s Resilience in the Face of Trauma | Education.com.

So the remarkable children and spouses, we witnessed on the anniversary of 9/11 speaking of their lives now, are reflections of their surviving parents and those who perished in the attacks that day in 2001.

Let us all try to foster resilience in our children in this age of uncertainty so that they can call upon it when and if they need to do so.

References

1. Masten, AS (1994) Resilience in individual development: Successful adaptation despite risk and adversity. In MC Wang & EW Gordon (Eds.) Inner City Educational Resilience

2. Masten, AS, Best, KM & Garmezy,N. (1991) Resilience and development: contributions from the study of children who overcome adversity. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 425-444

3. Scheering, MS & Zeanah, CH (2001) A relational perspective on PTSD in early childhood. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 14 (4) 799-815

4. Hoven, CW, Duarte, CS, Lucas, CP et al (2002) Effects of the World Trade Center attack on NYC Public School Students: Initial Report of the New York City Board of Education. New York: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Applied Research and Consulting, LLC

5. Ibid, p. 24

6. Terr, LC, Block, DA, Beat, MA et al (1997) Children’s thinking in the wake of Challenger. The American Journal of

Psychiatry, 154 (6)744-751

via Children’s Resilience in the Face of Trauma | Education.com.