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Teacher: What's the difference between electricity and lightning?
Student: Lightning is free.

The power went out over half our county yesterday. An accident somewhere in the wilderness of wires that took them 14 hours to find and fix. School let out at noon. Tish and I took the brood to McDesperates where electricity was still flowing. They could eat, play, use working toilets and we had coffee. Perfect. We got out all the candles, bought subs for supper, ate half melted ice cream and played monopoly until dark. I told "everyone with a penis has to pee out in the bushes".

The only one who had a hard time with it all was Doc. The concept of power down represents a lack of control even to his little brain and he worried the day away wondering where the power went, when it would come back, and who had it in the first place. We read our bedtime stories upstairs by candlelight and I stayed by his bed until he fell asleep. Unfortunately, the juice wasn't back on by the time he had to get up for his midnight pee and his anxiety kicked in afresh.

The combo of an anxious Doc and his dad trying to calm him down is like trying to mop up water with a slice of cheese. I don't know why Doc has such a problem with Buddy this way. They adore each other but there's some hair trigger issue that sits near the surface of Doc's mind that makes him whine and complain and get furious over things that he wouldn't complain about with Grammo and me. So they fought over going back to bed, taking a pee, and whatever else Doc could think up.

An hour later he curled up on the sofa still wailing with Buddy nowhere to be seen. I went in to see what was up. He wouldn't talk but he was willing to nod. "Are you in pain?" I asked. No. "Are you scared?" No. "Wanna tell me what's bugging you?" No. "Are you mad because you want to yell at Daddy and he won't come out of his room?" Nod. There we go.

Yeah, well I wouldn't come out of my room for that, either, thinks I. So I sat there for the better part of an hour with one hand laid for comfort on his little belly, telling him stories in a low even voice about my own childhood. Halloween, life with my brothers, daydreams, whatever popped up. He was quiet the whole time. But he hadn't gone to sleep. Finally, his face emerged from the blankets, we shared a couple of cookies and he was ready to sleep.

I like being able to do that for the boys. I like being a calming influence when their nerves are jambly. But I wish Buddy could do it, too. I fear it's a level of trust, even for Doc, that they don't have. He'd fall under a bus for them but they aren't feeling it. I don't know how to help that. You feel what you feel and that is non-negotiable until you feel differently. I wonder if they know that I love him as much as I love them.

I wonder if that would make a difference to them.