My daughter noticed the hurricane. At almost two, she doesn’t quite have the words to explain what she perceives to be going on, but she kept saying “wind” and “sound” and pointing out the window. The wind sounded scary. Forget about Adi for a minute, I was scared. With flickering lights and brief but dramatic brownouts everyone was on edge. How can I expect a toddler to relax if I can’t?
Thankfully, our neighborhood got off easy during hurricane Sandy. Downed trees on cars and some broken windows seem to be the worst of it. I’m lucky to still have power and a place to live so I can’t complain. I’m thankful for my inconveniences.
Keeping a toddler inside an apartment for any stretch of time is hard. Keeping her away from the window she likes to sit next to and look out of is harder. Hulu was a life saver. When we finally ventured outside two days later, Adi (quite stir crazy) was visibly bothered by all of the downed trees. She became very upset when she saw that the entrance to our park was blocked off by caution tape and guarded by two police officers. I told her we couldn’t go into the park because it was dangerous. The only “danger” Adi has known is as it’s shown on Sesame Street and other kid shows. Her own park being dangerous freaked her out. Looking back, I probably should have made up some other excuse as to why it was closed but I myself was too tired and stir crazy to think to lie. Ever since we ventured outside, Adi has been…anxious. She’s waking up every couple of hours for a hug, or her bottle, which we were -thisclose- to ditching forever. She keeps talking about the wind even though its long gone. Her classes have been canceled and her routine has been severely disrupted. The only upside is that my husband has been home, but he’s struggling to work from home in an apartment with a toddler that can’t go to the park.
My parents live on Staten Island, and that was hit really really hard. My grandmother lives in Brooklyn, in a part that was flooded really badly. I still haven’t been able to reach her. I’m sure we’ll be visiting there before recovery (which will take a long time) is complete. Adi is going to see a lot of damage, and will no longer see familiar landscapes. I’m not sure how I’m going to explain things to her. I hope I can do it in a way that doesn’t upset her too much.
Since this is the second major hurricane in as many years, I’m going to operate under the assumption that this is going to happen again next year. I’ll definitely be doing a few things differently to help things go a bit more smoothly.
First, I’ll have Adi pack her own go bag. I packed one for the family in a rush, but Adi enjoys copying me, so I think that having her pack some snacks and books for herself would give her a sense of participation. Second, even though she’ll probably be potty trained by next year, I’ll stock up on pull-ups. We came three diapers away from completely running out. When kids can’t play outside they sit inside and drink a lot of juice. And then they pee a lot. Third, I will have juice alternatives next year. Juice has sugar in it (even “no sugar added” stuff) and when a toddler drinks it constantly for days on end like an alcoholic with a cardboard flask, she’ll (like a drunk rock star) jump up and down screaming like a maniac, try to lock the cat in the closet, and trash the apartment.
For right now though, I give her a hug whenever she asks for one.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.