Navy Wise: That old 1-2-3 punch of Old Man Winter returns

This time two weeks ago, Old Man Winter made an unexpected arrival and pummeled much of Maine with a foot of snow. In his wake: downed power lines, crippled trees and heaters that came to an abrupt stop.

This time two weeks ago, Old Man Winter made an unexpected arrival and pummeled much of Maine with a foot of snow. In his wake: downed power lines, crippled trees and heaters that came to an abrupt stop.

I must say, the Old Man has terrible timing. His tantrum came on the heels of Halloween and setting back the clocks. It was a one-two-three punch of circumstances.

First was Halloween. I actually offered my neighbor cash to take the kids to run laps the morning after Halloween.

Second, the time-switcharoo made those same kids get up at 4 a.m.

With all this nonsense, no one even saw the Old Man’s approach. We parents were so glad our kids were going back to school on Monday, nothing else mattered. Just get to Monday morning, we told ourselves. It will all be OK on Monday morning.

And then, out of nowhere, number three happened: a foot of snow fell.

Our lights flickered most of that Sunday morning while the wind beat against the screens. The kids played in the snow drifts, because snow is still fun before February. They pulled out their sleds, and after getting a start on shoveling the sidewalk, they did what they always do: they left the shovels in the yard so that two hours later they were buried under 6 inches of snow.

At 2 p.m., the lights flickered one last time, and then they went out. The hum of the heater in the basement abruptly stopped. And in the winter, everyone knows two things: (1) precipitation that makes noise is bad, and (2) a heater that goes silent is worse.

The kids didn’t care about the lack of heat or lights until 4 p.m. That’s when, thanks to the time change, it started to get dark outside. Now we were all inside, looking at each other as the darkness set in.

By 6 p.m., the kids were frantic, mostly because they realized I couldn’t make the hot spaghetti I had promised them. In the dark, I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and (brace yourself) accidentally grabbed the crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth. This mattered much more than the fact that I couldn’t see well enough to know if there was mold on the bread. The house was now 50-degrees and we had wet clothes in the washing machine, but the bloodcurdling scream from our kitchen was, “Nooooooooo, I refuse to eat this crunchy peanut butter!”

The kids ate Halloween candy instead. Except no one touched the Almond Joys. We weren’t that desperate. Yet.

Back in the living room, we tried to entertain ourselves. I gave each of the kids a flashlight in case they needed to venture away from the candles to use the restroom.

“Stop turning on the flashlights,” I said. “You’re wasting the battery.”

“Look at this cool Bat signal I can make on the ceiling,” Owen said to Ford.

“Not with the flashlight,” I said. “What are we going to do if those batteries run out?”

“Look at my face when I put the light under my chin,” Lindell said to his brothers.

Owen, apparently not listening to me, flicked on the light again. “Look, it’s a giant rabbit on the ceiling.”

That’s when I lost it.

“Why can’t I trust you with a flashlight? Do you have to push the button? Why does a 12-year-old have to push the button?”

The boys looked scared. Then Ford said, “Seriously guys, why have we resorted to anarchy so quickly?”

It happens so fast. I mean, I wasn’t thinking about work, laundry, or even personal hygiene anymore. In just one day, I had gone into survival mode. We all slept huddled together in one bed for warmth. Lindell cried when his brothers explained what armageddon means, and then he panicked when he thought his eyelashes froze.

Eventually, we decided we’d had enough of the barbarism of no TV or Nintendo, so I made a reservation at a hotel. The temperature inside the house was 40 degrees.

Normally, I don’t let the kids pack for themselves. Now I remember why. While I ran around gathering snacks, they threw swim trunks, sunglasses, favorite board games and 14 pairs of underwear into their suitcase.

There was a slight struggle getting the car out of the garage, and our gas tank was nearly on empty, but we soldiered on toward the hotel. And just as we turned into the parking lot, our neighbor sent a text: “Power is back on!”

All at once, our everyday reality hit us. Lindell had homework. I needed to get to work. Our laundry was still in the basement. And when we got home, three little flashlights lay on the couch, pointed at the wall, and switched on.