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The 10-Year-Old and the Tsunami

Tilly Smith and her family relaxed on the beach. Their first family vacation had taken them to Thailand. That morning, ten-year-old Tilly, her parents, and sister Holly, went for a walk along Mai Khao beach. They enjoyed the warm breeze in their faces and felt the sand squish in between their toes.

Two weeks prior to their holiday, Tilly had learned about tsunamis in her geography class. She did not find geography tantalizing, but the video her teacher showed had caught her attention. So, as Tilly and her family walked the beach, she noticed the waves going out but not coming in.

Tilly alerted her parents that they were surrounded by signs that something unusual and cataclysmic would occur. At first they were dismissive, but Tilly's passion and persistence paid off. She began shouting, "There is going to be a tsunami!"

Now, what would you do if you were on vacation with your family and your ten-year-old daughter started screaming on the beach that a tsunami was about to strike? Tilly shouted louder and louder, and her panic frightened her younger sister, who began to sob hysterically.

I imagine the volume increasing with her parents saying something like, "Tilly, calm down! It will be okay. You're scaring your sister! Get yourself under control, now!" Tilly's dad took Holly back to the hotel to calm her down. But Tilly looked around and saw the people in the ocean, on the sand, and just knew in her heart that everyone was in danger. Tilly ran back to the hotel to find her dad talking with a security guard. He said, "I know this sounds completely mad, but my daughter says there's going to be a tsunami.”

The security guard listened not to a PhD candidate, brain surgeon, or NASA scientist but to a passionate plea coming from a ten-year-old British schoolgirl. The guard listened and then shouted for people to get off the beach. People scattered all over the place as pandemonium set in. The hotel lobby, on a higher floor, became a gathering place

A tsunami, triggered by an earthquake at the floor of the Indian Ocean, struck. This tsunami killed an estimated 230,000 people. But not one person from Tilly's beach died that we know of. Tilly's dad, in shock after learning of the horrific devastation and suffering, said to Tilly, "What if we hadn't listened to you?"

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