By John Jericiau
We just left the theater after seeing the new movie “The Impossible”. Yes, date night has resumed, thanks to the willingness of our friend/surrogate to return to her post as Saturday night babysitter for our 5-year-old, our 4-year-old (turning 5 in nine days), and our 2-month-old infant, for whom she did an excellent job of babysitting for 9 months while he was growing in her uterus. As daunting as three kids might sound for a babysitter, the timing is right for a late movie. We get the two older boys bathed and fed and in their pajamas. They curl up with our friend on the sofa and enjoy their own movie night (tonight was “Madagascar 3”). Our newest son, on the other hand, is already snoozing in the swing as we sneak out the back door, enjoying some REM sleep like he has most evenings. I think he is just resting up for his middle of the night partying with us after we get home. He usually gets up around 10:30pm or 11:00pm for another feeding before going right back to sleep, so our friend only has to deal with him once, and that’s after the older boys have long gone to sleep.
The movie we saw tonight was about a lion, zebra, hippo, and giraffe trying to find their way to New York. Wait, that was the boys’ movie. The one we saw, “The Impossible”, was a true story about one family’s harrowing experience during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that hit the coast of Thailand (where they were enjoying Christmas vacation), in which a total of 230,000 people were killed in 14 different countries. While some of the scenes in this movie made fighting off the tears impossible, this was quite possibly the most boring disaster movie I’ve ever seen. But just as the family portrayed in the film has three young sons just like we do, it did make me quickly cross off Thailand in my mind as a possible destination for a beach vacation for us.
Disasters happen, many times in an instant, and there’s no way to avoid harm or predict where one will occur, so maybe I’m being to quick to rule Thailand out. Still, it’s important to consider that a family member could possibly need some serious attention by health personnel after a disaster such as a tsunami, and it’s just a fact that developed countries would be able to provide the needed care much easier and also have more resources available than some third world location. While they are extremely beautiful beach towns, they may not be the best choice for a family with young kids.
Disasters do happen closer to home as well. This week will mark the 19th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, a jolt with a magnitude 6.7 that killed 57 and injured over 8700 people here in Los Angeles. I was in escrow on my current home while living in a condo about a mile away. When the earthquake hit at 4:31 am the building shook so hard that my bed moved three feet to the right. Although I was of course without my three sons at the time, I did have three beautiful Dalmatian puppies, all of whom were sleeping with me in my bed. I remember feeling so helpless as the shaking got more and more intense, since I was unable to scoop up all three at the same time and sprint to safety under the bedroom doorframe. I was forced to choose only two of them, one for each of my arms, and I shudder to think what I would do if that situation were to arise with my current family. After the shaking and tremors subsided, I did throw on my running shoes and sprint over to my future home. Although some neighboring homes sustained damage, as did quite a large section of Santa Monica residences, my new abode was completely upright, intact, and unbroken.
The recent Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was also a type of disaster, albeit man made. The details of that shooting continue to haunt me. School is a place where Daddy cannot be present to protect and save his kids. I can’t be there to throw myself in front of a bullet or scoop up the boys and lead them to safety, and that scares me.
Who knows what crazy disaster is next? A hurricane in Santa Monica? A giant sinkhole that engulfs my house? A terrorist attack?
It’s not likely, but it’s possible.