Monday, October 3, 2011

The lights go off, the imaginations go on

Last week we had a power outage. It caught me by surprise because at the time it went out, there was no storm. Within seconds, though, the wind kicked up and it started raining. It was around 6:00 p.m., so it wasn't dark yet. Even so, we gathered the flashlights and candles in case it stayed out for a while. And it did stay dark for a couple hours. The wind continued to howl and it got darker outside.

A couple of the boys had been in the middle of a video game, one was on the computer and the other two were watching television when it happened. Every time we have a storm and the power fails the kids have this initial reaction of "What in the world am I going to do now?" Luckily the pizza I had put in the oven has just finished cooking, so we had dinner by candlelight.

This storm turned out to be a good thing. The kids decided to pull out some toys that they don't use much anymore. Next thing I knew they were playing together and building things with Lincoln logs. They played until the lights came back on.

Even though we now had light, the kids continued to build. I got on my computer to try and get some work done. Soon the power was flickering. It happened twice. It was out less than 10 seconds, but it was long enough that I lost what I'd been working on and all the clocks had to be reset again. Just when we thought we were in the clear, it went out again. And it stayed out. By now everyone was in their pajamas, but no one wanted to venture to their room with the electricity out. I got comfortable on the sofa and the boys gathered around on the floor and the love seat and were soon snoring.

My only worry was that I had a freezer full of meat from Market Day and ice cream from Schwan's that I hoped would survive. Luckily, I was awaken around midnight by bright lights and a loud television. I turned everything off and went back to sleep. None of the kids moved an inch.

In the morning, I was able to get a good glimpse at what had kept them busy all evening. The Lincoln log tower was about 6 stories and each had a balcony occupied by plastic green army men. A road stretched out the entrance to a play mat of streets that had bumper to bumper cars on the road. I then got the explanation from my 8-year-old that the scene represented a zombie invasion. "That's why the army guys are there," he said. "And this is a traffic jam because everyone is trying to get out of town to escape from the zombies," he said as he pointed to the road.

I've become accustomed to such explanations from boys. From a girl viewpoint, it would have been just a nice cabin in the woods or perhaps a castle occupied by royalty, but with boys it's got to be a scene from a Will Smith-type action movie.

Anyway, even with the apocalyptic setting it was a great evening. Without the distractions of television, computers and video games, it creates an atmosphere for creativity and allows them to work together on something instead of competing against them on a screen. Sometimes the electronics need to shut down to allow the imaginations to turn on.

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