My older son Silas and I had just returned home from my Zumba class on Tuesday evenings. Since my husband and younger son were off at hockey practice, he had the choice to hang around the rink for two hours, or hang out with his good friend Payton while her mother taught class and I desperately tried to keep up with her. Pulling into our driveway just before 8:00pm, Payton and her mom dropped us off and headed back to their house right next door.
As we headed toward the house, the wind was so strong I had to re-gain my balance. It was also completely dark outside, being almost 8:00 at night. The trees along the small woods that surrounded our house on three sides were swaying back and forth and I had to yell in order to be heard.
“Si! We have to let the chickens in!”. We had let the chickens out earlier that afternoon and needed to make sure they were all back in their coop for the night. I motioned for Silas to follow me to the backyard and down to the edge of our woods where our coop sat, but he stood at the corner of our garage, still on the black top.
“But mom, it’s so windy! Is it a hurricane? Is it a tornado?”.
Silas has always been more afraid than my younger son, Sam. I can remember nursing Silas when he was just weeks old, looking down at him peacefully eating. Almost sleeping. I sneezed once and the poor kid practically jumped out of his skin. His arms flailed way out to the side and he screamed for several minutes until my rocking him and kissing him and cooing him had calmed him down enough. He was also my first-born. I had no idea what I was doing and so was cautious and over-protective myself. His already-amped-up nervous system combined with my Newbie mom skills has supplied him with a good dose of anxiety. He is terrified of thunder and storm clouds and is obsessed with the scene in The Wizard of Oz when the twister comes.
Pushing myself against the wind as I made my way to the chicken coop, I yelled back, my voice probably lost in the wind, “No honey, it’s not a tornado! It’s just windy!!”.
But he wasn’t moving. “But mom…..”. I saw his silhouette against the kitchen light of the house, just standing there.
Down by the coop, I took my phone flashlight and shone it near the hen-house my husband had built and noticed that all of our chickens were huddled on top of the mesh fencing, bracing themselves against the wind and trying to stay warm. Their door to the coop was shut for some reason, so they couldn’t get in. I hollered back to Si that the chickens were locked out and that we were going to need to pick them up and carry them back in to the coop. But, he wasn’t behind me and I couldn’t hear him or see him. I’d guessed he retreated to the house, which is what Dorothy’s whole family did when the tornado hit Kansas.
The thing was, Silas was “The Chicken Whisperer”. He had a way with animals and was able to coral them back to the coop whenever. I’d often find him sitting out back of our house, in the grass, just hanging with the chickens, talking to them, always holding at least one in his arms.
I stood there trying to figure out what to do. I didn’t want to have to pick them up. They squawked and made a fuss and their wings felt gross to me and I was nervous around them. How was I going to get them in there??
But, before I even had to decide, Silas came up from behind me and I heard him yelling so as to be heard over the wind:
“Mom! In the movie The Good Dinosaur, Arlo’s father says, ‘Face your Fears!!'”
And with that, he marched over to the chickens, his jacket flapping wildly in the wind, leaves and small twigs blowing haphazardly all around us, and he picked them up one by one, talking to them gently and putting them back in their coop.
Arlo reminds me very much of my son Silas, and I am so proud of him for already working hard to push through his fears and see the beauty on the other side. He’s an inspiration to me. God, I love that kid.