I feel the earth move

            Zachary is getting some educational testing done for various reasons I don’t want to go into.  Since he is so young, the psychologist has suggested I remain in her waiting area for the three hours so that I am there on his breaks.  This is fine with me; I can work as well there as anywhere.  I sit and edit while he gets to play games in her office, which, like many doctor’s offices, is separated from the waiting area by a receptionist’s area behind a locked door.

            That’s where I was yesterday a little before noon when the room began to rumble.  I looked up at the receptionist through her little window, wondering whether she gets a lot of that kind of annoyance from the upstairs neighbors.  She looked up, too, perhaps also wondering who was moving furniture so aggressively.  But, then it didn’t stop.  And I think it dawned on us at the same time, because she got out of her seat and I got out of my seat.

            I ran to the door to get my son, but it was locked.  I banged on it for what felt like 20 seconds, although I am sure it was much shorter than that.  It opened.  “Here he is,” the psychologist told me, handing over my little man.  “I don’t think he noticed.”  He didn’t notice?  We were four stories up.

            We figured we should evacuate, so I grabbed my computer and purse.  It only took 3 or 4 seconds, so don’t think I am a lunatic.  The manuscript is on that computer.  And then we were out the door.

            At the stairs, though, I was stuck.  “Can someone please carry him?” I asked.  We’d never get down if he had to walk on his own, and if I tried to carry him four flights, I’d go into labor.

            Outside, I tried to call my nanny who was home with Benjamin, but the call kept getting dropped.

            “We can call it a day,” the psychologist said.  “We only have about 15 minutes left for today.”

            “Let’s finish,” I decided.  “I don’t even think he knows what happened.”  I turned to my son.  “Do you know why we left, honey?”


            Looking back at the psychologist, I said, “let’s just finish up.”

            “Why did we leave the building, Mommy?”

            “Well, honey, in an emergency you are supposed to leave the building and use the stairs instead of the elevator.  We were practicing for an emergency.  Does that make sense?”

            As he nodded, I heard our psychologist say to her office staff, “Good answer.”  I guess you know you’re doing something right when a child psychologist likes your answers.

            Back inside, I still could not reach my nanny.  I tried the office landline.  I tried calling my home.  Lines were busy or calls were dropped.  I got an incoming email from my husband on my iphone, but my outgoing emails just sat in my outbox, unable to find a free line.

            It was the feeling of September 11 all over again.  I didn’t really know what had happened; I knew I was OK but had no idea if others were; and I could not get a phone call through to find out.

            The difference is, seven years ago I was a newlywed with no children.  I was worried about friends, but that was it.  Yesterday, I had no idea if my house had fallen down on my two-year-old’s head.

            Fifteen minutes later, I reached my nanny.  “He didn’t even notice,” she told me.  What the hell is wrong with my kids?  They notice a dog four blocks away, they can sniff out a cupcake from across a football field, and they comment every time I get new flip flops, but they don’t notice a 5.4 earthquake?  The fucking ground was moving, boys.  Were you really completely unaware?

            Finished with his testing, Zachary came out, pleased with his treasure from her treasure box, but hungry and wanting lunch.  “Those games took too long,” he told me.  “And she didn’t let me take the pictures I drew.”  Maybe THAT’S what he was so focused on.

            When we got home, I realized it was time to get my ass in gear and order an emergency kit for the house and another for the car.  I also sat back and wondered: how much does it typically affect a four-year-old’s IQ score to get evacuated for an earthquake somewhere near the end of the test?

26 responses to “I feel the earth move

  1. do you think the psychologist planned the whole thing? a stress test, as it were? 😉

  2. Pretty amazing they didn’t notice! The cupcake sniffing ability made me laugh out loud. 🙂

  3. I once slept through a fairly significant rumble while we visited my great aunt when I was about 9.

    My working theory is that kids are lower to the ground so they don’t feel the quakes as much as adults do.

    I know it’s probably a load of poo. It’s all I got. 😉

  4. We were busy trying to buy a new laptop at Frys. The first thing I was concerned with was getting my husband and Jack Jack to move away from any high shelves stacked with stuff (luckily we were at a Frys far away from Chino Hills and just a few things fell). Jack Jack didn’t even notice a thing. But, if you ask him, he will tell you the whole story like he actually felt it. He must have heard us tell it a few times yesterday 🙂 And then, I had to call my mom to make sure they were ok, that is were my other two kids were. It actually woke Violet up. Must have been some shaking to get a 13 year old out of bed before noon in the summer…

  5. That is WHY I don’t live in California. Ok there are other reasons, but I have a fear of that state.

  6. We had a very brief earthquake here not too long ago, and The Poo didn’t even stir.

    SO glad you are all OK!

  7. I forgot to add the most important thing – I am so very glad you’re all OK.

  8. laughing at Slouching Mom’s suggestion of a stress test…and very glad you’re okay.

    as someone who used to do educational testing and IQ scores, let me suggest that all results should be taken with a serious grain of salt – which i’m sure you know anyway – so, earthquake schmerthcake. hopefully you’ll get results that shed some light on whatever you’re looking into. 🙂

  9. WOW…glad everyone was ok…

  10. I’m so glad you guys are okay – it must have been scary…(for you anyway)

  11. You’re a Californian now?

    I’m very glad you’re all okay.

  12. Your boys make me laugh. I’m glad you’re all ok. The emergency kits are a great idea no matter where you live but especially if you live in a natural disaster prone area. If nothing else it will probably give you a little peace of mind.

  13. Let’s hear it for denial – the earth must be and stay solid, despite evidence to contrary. Plus cupcakes are much more important.

  14. i think your doctor will know to take the EQ into account. 😉

    glad you all are OK. i remember my first EQ my hubby was out of town, it was the middle of the night, and i could not figure out what on earth the cats were doing to make the bed shake like that…

  15. we lived in Los Angeles when I was younger and I never felt the earthquakes either. My parents would jump up and act nervous as I cursed myself for missing it….yet again!
    In fact, out of all the years I’ve lived in CA I’ve only felt one earthquake (though there have been many) and that was a few months ago….and I think the only reason I felt it is b/c our foundation is a joke and our house is raised up off the ground.
    and, btw, I’m very curious about Zach’s testing. Genius testing??

  16. Well, I’ve never seen a shooting star. But I can hear a student mutter “m-f teacher” all the way from the back of a noisy and crowded classrooms. We all have our special gifts, you see.


    Glad, again, that you are all okay.

  17. Sometimes I think that kids that young completely miss that kind of thing because they have no concept of normal. Sure they haven’t felt it before, but they don’t know that it can cause complete chaos. Still, you’d think they would wonder why all the furniture was moving. hehe

    I’m convinced my boys wouldn’t notice either.
    Glad you are all fine. 🙂

  18. I actually find it a good sign that he was comfortable enough in the testing environment that he was just focused on playing those ‘long games.’ Glad he was freaked out by the evacuation and that you are all well.

  19. I was thinking of you yesterday. Glad you guys are ok.

    I can’t imagine…

  20. Oh, and one more thought:

    Perhaps he is enveloped in the details: drawings, treasure, games with rules and pieces and turns…broader things like the earth moving of its own volition don’t necessarily register.

  21. Kids are so weird like that.

  22. so relieved to hear your family is alright.

  23. Woah, scary stuff. We had an earthquake here in the UK a few months back and I had never felt one before. It was very disconcerting. I think children have a very focused form of attention – it doesn’t float much outside a metre radius. And if it makes you feel better, when my brother was a child, he managed to sleep through a (small) fire in the house that had fireman walking through his bedroom. Now that’s not paying attention.

  24. Oh and I pressed submit too soon before adding, I am VERY glad to know you are all fine and that it wasn’t any worse.

  25. I will have a glass of wine in honor of you tonight. Don’t stress too hard about the testing. Freddy went through EXTENSIVE testing for Asperger’s/Autism when he was 3/4/5….I beat myself up on an almost daily basis, certain I had done something to cause him these problems. Everything came back fine on paper, and he’s getting ready to start 1st grade. He marches to his own drum. He is stubborn, argumentative, and awesome. Don’t buy into the idea that we must put a label on our children’s individual quirks. It makes them who they are…. 🙂

  26. Sorry to hear you got so shook up by the earthquake! I suppose having your kid on the other side of a locked door exasperated the situation.

    But, just to be dutiful, I think I should point out that running out of the building is not really the recommended course of action in an earthquake unless the building you’re in is all full of stuff toppling off of shelving. From FEMA’s “What to do During an Earthquake” info sheet: “Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.”


    That quake, of course, wasn’t quite strong enough to cause any major damage, at least not in a place with as strong building codes as we do here. Remember, that an equally-strong quake would have done a lot more damage not just in a third-world country, but even places like the Midwest or England, where they have a lot more unreinforced masonry buildings. Notice that you hardly see any brick here?

    So the good thing about a quake like the one we had this week is that it didn’t really hurt anybody but at least shook us up to remind us that we do have quakes, and that we need to be aware of earthquake safety.