Lightning (real, legitimate lightning) struck as the kids were waiting in the car pool line the first day back to school.
I, one car-row away from my Kindergartners when the ear splitting crack hit the ground, watched as the children began to scream and run.
It sounded like a shot from a gun.
Oh, God, I thought. Not here. Please not here, God.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Sitting in my car, watching the children scatter, knowing that my two were somewhere in the mayhem immediately brought up the horrors of Columbine and Sandy Hook. I looked for the gunman, before I recognized the rain.
The skies opened up, and poured thick, wet drops.
The line inched forward, and as I got closer, I rounded the corner to the spot where the soaked-through Teacher's Assistant with the walkie-talkie would call my girls' names. I turned off the fast-blasting wipers so not to get her more wet.
By the time I got around to my children I was so grateful to see them that I jumped out of the car and into the rain, around to open their door. I smiled widely and clapped my hands in applause.
“YAY! You guys! You made it through your first day!”
My instinct upon seeing their hysterical, crying five-year-old faces was the exact opposite of somber.
The traumatic event had passed, but the mass of scared children created a domino effect. My girls cried all the way home, even at the table for snack, and most of the way until dinner.
Intermittently they'd calm, and explain things.
They thought I should know about how kids in both of their classes said the word that I dislike most, out of the whole entire dictionary.
They explained that even though they weren’t supposed to, one of the boys had talked the gaggle of girls into going down the hill at recess to see the honeysuckle trees. They were thankful they didn’t get caught.
Between tears and quiet, a calmed Sophie mentioned that she didn't have a dress up center in her classroom. When Grace said that her classroom did, though it was, “small,” her sister's mouth turned down, eyes filling up… again.
It was exhausting, and by 6:30 we were all tired, and climbed into bed.
They fell asleep talking about the lunch line and their friends and their Tuesday folders and their Principal.They didn’t mention the storm.
For as much as I was ready for them to go back to school after a summer of no real exercise for mom, no silent writing time, and kids, kids all day long kids, I needed reminding that being their mom is a gift.
I eventually fell asleep, each one of my arms holding onto a sleeping girl, my fingers crossed that Thursday’s weather report would promise no more rain.