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Kid Disappointed By Thunderstorm
Stares into distance at cumulonimbus clouds, cries because she keeps missing the lightning strikes
The thing about this family: We are weather nerds. I don’t leave the house without a thorough analysis of precipitation, temperature, and air quality for the day, and I take my probabilities seriously. We are also beach nerds, which means that we have a high hit rate for great, sunny beach days. Tuesday was meant to be that kind of beach day.
Yesterday, though, as we confronted a hot July 4th with a (broad, useless, emergent, nonspecific) “50% chance of rain”, we began to question our plan to spend the day at the beach, for fear of… getting wet? Rain and beach, no good—and if we flip a coin and it comes up rain half the time, those aren’t the kinds of odds we like.
However, faced with the alternatives—stay home, drive to New Jersey, watch three movies—we threw caution to the wind and rolled out to the beach. What if life isn’t black and white? What if you can spend two hours at the beach in the blazing sun before it starts sprinkling? That’s two hours of beach time I get to snatch from fate.
So we did. It was great. Kina dunked, swam on her own, laid in the sand. All the stuff I’ve written about here countless times.
And in the distance, behind the beach, dark clouds.
Friends came! Trenches were dug! Dark clouds grew closer!
We romped in the ocean, staring back at the bright blond sand, the field of towels and beach umbrellas, set against a backdrop of slate gray. The weather, we said, was heading east.
But east it did not head, and the clouds grew ever nearer, and the thunder clapped, and the entire beach began to mutter in unison about how long they would stay and if the rain would pass and just how bad traffic would be going over the bridge—all of which is a sign that New Yorkers are ready to bounce.
I caught a glimpse of lightning in the distance—a thin needle of white against the black clouds—and told Kina about it. “Where?” she asked.
“Over there. It was over there, but now it’s gone,” I replied.
“I don’t see it. Where is it?”
“It’s not there. There will be more.”
“Where? When? It’s not fair!”
Kina stood next to our beach tent and stared at the wall of clouds for minutes on end, a look of desperation on her face as she waited for a flash of light. She’d give up and turn to me, and I’d see a bolt of lightning tumble out of a cloud—the whole beach at once screaming, “Oooo!” which only made Kina more upset for having missed it.
When you are looking for lightning, there is often surprisingly little to be found.
Eventually, she got overwhelmed and started weeping, there in the middle of the beach, unstruck. The lifeguards ushered everybody towards shelter. I picked her up and placed her cheek against mine—where I looked, she would look, and if I got lucky, she’d get lucky. We walked across the sand with thousands of other city beach nerds, looking out over the horizon at the passing clouds and hearing peals of thunder from bolts of lightning obscured by rain.
We got to our car just as the storm rushed across the parking lot. Kina, still dusted with sand, sat and looked out the window through a wall of water. We had a good day at the beach. It rained. Somewhere, where we couldn’t see it, there was lightning. Kina jumped in the waves with me and laughed and laughed and laughed.