How do your little ones react to summer thunderstorms? We've had some pretty noisy ones over the last couple of weeks, and talking my two daughters through them has been a little testing.
You see, on one hand, Ava finds they make her increasingly nervy. She can't quite comprehend why this enormous bloody great noise is just, well, happening all by itself outside. Even when she was little, and I used to make up stuff for her about the crashes, she'd eye me a bit warily, and cower in my armpit.
Ruby, on the other hand loves it if there is even the briefest flash of lightning and the noise makes her positively vibrate with excitement. So, this can be a bit tricky when there is a thunderstorm at night time, and when they sleep in the same room.
The other week, their normal mid-summer bed time was unusually dark as the storm clouds came in. The coolness was welcome, actually, as we'd had a solid fortnight of sweltering evening temperatures.
But as I read Ava and Ru their bedtime story, the rumbles started.
Ava whimpered. Ruby cackled. "Ooh!" I said brightly, thinking cheeriness might allay Ava's impending panic. "Sounds like a little storm is coming this way!"
"ISSA BIIIIIG ONE!" said Ruby dramatically, her arms splayed out wide.
"Mummy, I don't like storms," Ava said, looking genuinely worried.
"Yes, I know, darling," I said. "I don't expect it is a big one really, it sounds quite far away. Shall we carry on with the story..."
BIG clap of thunder.
Ava whimpered, slightly teary. Ruby shrieked and cackled.
"ISSSA GIIIIAAAANT ONE, MUMMY!" Ru's eyes were madly wide.
I looked at Ava, wrinkled my nose and shook my head. Then I winked at her, before saying: "You know what it is, Ru? It's big silly GIANT! He's running and jumping all over the place when people are trying to sleep, honestly..."
"Coming here, Mummy?!" I could see the hope in her eyes.
I squeezed Ava's hand. "Oh, nooo! It sounds to me like he's running around Epping Forest... which is MILES away from here, Ru."
I winked at Ava again, who gave me a little smile. She was beginning to enjoy Ruby's enthusiasm for the tall tale, and she liked that she and I were in cahoots.
"He lost his Mummy?" Ru asked, which is her standard question about all creatures, whether a woodlouse, a goose or, apparently, a giant.
Outside the rain was spilling from the gutters. "What he has lost, Ru" I said, "is his wellies. Can't you hear the splashing of his squelchy feet?"
"Oh, yeeeaaah...!" said Ruby, her hand to her ear.
There was another big clap of thunder that even made Ru wince.
"HE FELL ON HIS BUM!" Ava interjected and burst into fits of giggles.
"He broke a tree!" Ruby squealed.
"He's all wet!"
"He's ripped his trousers!"
We all looked out of the window at the pouring rain and talked about how that poor clumsy giant would get home and how naughty he was for making all that racket. I squeezed them both tight, knowing that all too soon, bad weather will be nothing more than bad weather.
You can read Pip's previous columns here.