It was a Lion day on Saturday, with strong winds and aggressive rainfall. It was a day for staying inside. And we all know the best way to pass a day in the house: organizing. In the late afternoon, as a chicken slowly roasted in the oven, I went through a batch of hand-me-downs to figure out what is going to fit Lilah as the weather gets warmer.
I have a frequently-stated policy that my kids can have dresses when they are old enough to ask for them, so Lilah – the proud possessor of a grand total of nine words – has never worn a dress. As I went through the clothes, I pulled out a little short-sleeved, purple dress with giant white spots and two red butterflies on the pocket.
“Yeah, we tried that one on earlier today,” my husband said. “She really likes it.” Not that he had to tell me, as my eighteen-month-old was laughing, squealing, and pointing to her chest as she tried to tear off the cozy little overalls I had dressed her in.
She may not talk much, but I guess she’s old enough to ask for a dress.
I pulled out some other, slightly more weather-appropriate, items. “Lilah, can you just try on these leggings?”
“Uh-uh,” she replied, shaking her head rather emphatically.
“Let’s see if this shirt fits.”
“Nah,” with a little dismissive wave of her hand.
Red corduroys, a pair of jeans, even long-sleeved dresses. She was having none of it. The only thing she let me put on was a pair of purple-with-white-polka-dots bloomers that match the dress. Whatever – we were inside, she wouldn’t freeze. I could eyeball the rest of the clothes.
“What about this?” I asked her, holding up a pink onesie with rhinestones spelling “girly girl” across the front.
“Yay!” she yelled, both hands up in the air. Much to the amusement of my husband.
Clearly we need to get this child a subscription to Ms.
Lilah preened around the living room, stopping every time anyone said the word “dress” to pull at her chest and giggle. The boys jumped on the couch and the smell of roasting chicken filled the house.
Then I saw several large cables falling down in my front yard just as the house went dark.
“Everyone to the back door!” I yelled, and bless their little hearts if they didn’t actually obey. Immediately. J ran to pack the diaper bag, while I started putting Lilah in some warmer clothes.
Whereupon she screamed at me and began flailing her arms as though under attack.
So, let’s recap. We had three children in a house with no power and live wires down in the front yard. We had a toddler in what basically amounted to lingerie. And we had a half-cooked chicken in the electric oven. Needless to say, we left the chicken, let Lilah stay in her summer get-up, and high-tailed it out the door to the car.
Our neighbor was standing on the street, cell phone in hand, hollering something to me through the winds. Not that I could hear him until I got to the end of the driveway.
“You’re not going to be able to get out!” he shouted, which was pretty evident from that vantage point. The downed lines blocked the road just to the left of the driveway, while a large tree blocked the road a few houses down to the right.
We buckled Tweedledum, Tweedledee, and Tweedledette into the car anyway. If we had to, we’d drive out over the back yard. We were not keeping these kids in the house with downed power lines. To be fair, I wasn’t entirely sure what kinds of lines they were, but when there are four giant black cables spread out across your yard, you leave first and ask questions later.
Our neighbor directed us as we backed out and drove over a small part of his yard. Just then, the police arrived to set up barriers, and we left the problem to the nice folks at the power company. We went out to dinner.
If only we had remembered it was Saturday night before St. Patrick’s day.
There we sat, eating dinner and surrounded by drunken revelers wearing green facepaint. Lilah was dressed for weather a full thirty degrees warmer. Benjamin huddled in his new pirate rain gear, hoping for the nine hundred and seventy-second time that all this rain and snow would turn out to be some sort of horrible dream and he would wake to find himself back in the SoCal sunshine. Zachary did the Word Find on his placemat, carefully highlighting each word in yellow after he had circled it. Back at home, a chicken began rotting in the oven and our cellar – deprived of the benefit of a sump pump – started oozing water over all our stored belongings.
Every now and then, Lilah would throw back her shoulders, smile proudly, and point to her dress. I think she was trying to reassure us all that spring is on its way.
And maybe she was right, because today, after four days of miserable weather, three days of no power, four inches of water in the cellar, and forty-eight degrees of temperature in our house, the sun is shining.