Of all my son’s unique habits, his penchant for trying to save money on our electricity bill is the most frustrating one. He’ll walk around the house flicking off all the light switches so that our house is entirely shrouded in darkness. From the outside, it would look abandoned. On the inside, it’s a frigging black hole.
“Ari!” I’ll yell. “Stop turning off the lights!” I’ll step in food on the kitchen floor and trip over their shoes while feeling my way toward the light switch. As I fumble around the house in search of light I’ll turn around only to find that another has been switched off.
“Ari!” I bellow.
The other day my mom pulled up to my dark house as I was yelling, “Ari! Stop with the lights!” I looked at her, embarrassed, for losing my cool. She often reminds me to be patient and calm. “Boys will be boys,” she’ll say.
But by the end of her visit, I felt a bit mollified.
“Ari!” she yelled, as we once again found ourselves cloaked in darkness. I found my way toward the light, feeling for the switch along the wall, blind as a mouse. I turned on the switch and gave my mom a “see-what-I-was-saying” look.
“Ari,” I explained. “We have enough money to pay our electricity bill,” I explained. “I turn off all the lights when we go to bed, but when we are awake we need to see.”
“I’m just trying to save money,” he sniffed.
I can think of lots of ways kids can save money. Stop spitting out my food and leaving cheese strings and Babybel’s in their lunch so I have to toss them by the end of the day. How about not playing video games so often so we can unplug electronics? How about not expecting the tooth fairy to show up when I know they don’t believe in her? Either way, electricity is a wonderful invention and I need it in my house.
But as bewildering as kids can sometimes be, they more than make-up for it in other ways. At night, Josh insisted he wouldn’t be able to go to sleep.
“I saw a shadow! I heard footsteps! Somebody is in the house!” he whimpered.
“Josh, there is nobody but us in the house. I will protect you and keep you safe. You have nothing to worry about.” He continued to whimper and I bent over to give him a long tight hug as he lay in bed.
That’s when I heard Ari from the top bunk. “What am I, chopped liver?” I had to laugh. How did he know to say that? “Why are you giving him negative attention? I need some love, too.”
I climbed up to hug him for an equally long time (he was timing it). “I love you so much. You’re such a good boy, and funny and kind. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Now go to bed,” I said.
Then I turned out the lights. Finally, I was happy to shut them off. It signalled the end of a very long, dark day.