“Turn off the lights,” I said the other morning, for the millionth time since my kids were old enough to reach the switch.
Sadly, that’s not even a world’s record. I inquired with the Guinness Book of World Record folks, and they confirmed that it’s not even close.
Apparently, some guy from Paducah has uttered that phrase well over two million times.
Apparently, this is a global affliction impacting every child.
I’ve tried everything to get my own kids to turn off the lights. I’ve been stern, threatening to take away their prized possessions. I’ve begged them to please consider the environment – and my sanity. I even took them to the pediatrician, thinking there was a genetic component to this, since it impacted both of my children.
“They are perfectly fine children, from a health perspective,” said my doctor.
“Check again,” I implored.
I even got desperate one afternoon and cut the power before they got home from school. A shadowy figure in the darkened corner of the living room, I waited. They entered and immediately turned on the light switch.
They were clearly puzzled as to why the lights weren’t turning on. My voice appeared out of the darkness to startle them.
“Why can you turn the lights on, but not off?” I said.
They asked me to turn the power back on and help fix them a snack.
I did both.
It was time to delve deeper into this insidious problem. In order to understand the breadth of the issue, I had to go back in time, to the 80s. For that, I would need the wisdom of my father.
“Son,” he said, sagely. “Kids haven’t been turning off the lights since lights were installed in homes.”“Even me?” I asked him, unprepared to hear his answer.
“You were the worst,” he said. “In fact, it got so bad that I took a dollar out of your college savings each time you forgot to shut the lights when you left a room.”
His information helped to explain why it took me so long to finish college, but it didn’t explain why kids are incapable of shutting the lights.
My neighbor, who is perhaps clinically insane, does also provide a wealth of information and experience. So, I asked him.
“It’s the Russians,” he said. “Way back when electricity was invented, the Kremlin implanted a device in every child across the world that prevented them from turning off the lights.”
He was nonplussed when I mentioned that Russian kids also don’t shut the lights, according to an exposé by the Russian equivalent of TMZ.
“That’s all part of the plot to make it look like they aren’t involved,” he said, confidently. I was out of answers. It was time to call a family meeting. So, my wife and I gathered in the dining room with the kids and the cat. We felt it was important for the cat to hear the discussion. Also, her food bowl was nearby and she was eating.
It was a beneficial discussion, and my wife and I were rather articulate. We really challenged them to be cognizant of the issues at hand. They seemed to understand. My wife and I left the kids in the dining room to contemplate their light-switching futures. After pondering the conversation for a few moments, they dispersed, eventually returning to their own rooms. I returned to the dining room moments later to find the light still on and the cat eating.
I shook my head and decided to turn my attention to something more pressing: wondering why kids would rather leave their unfolded clothes on the floor instead of putting them into their drawers.