The story about my son and the light bulbs…

I grab my purse off the counter and hurry toward the door.

“Wait,” my ten-year-old says, coming down the stairs, a flashlight in his hands. “I’ve gotta show you something.”

His eyes are bright and he’s smiling. Even though we’re running late for church, he’s barefoot and his hair isn’t brushed yet.

“I’ll meet you guys in the car,” my daughter calls from the other side of the house, the garage door slamming behind her.

“Look, Mom.” My son holds the flashlight up to my face. “See the light bulb in there?” He pushes it closer.

I nod.

“Did you know that regular light bulbs lose about 90% of their light in that little wire they’re made with?” he asks.

Right away, I want to stop him. I want to tell him that we’re running late and we’ve got to get in the car (because I know him, and I know this is going to take more than a minute). I want to hurry him out the door and promise him that we can talk about light bulbs on the way to church.

But when I see the enthusiasm in his face, it’s almost like God puts a clamp on my mouth and whispers to my heart,

This matters, Genny.

This matters.

So instead, I say, “That’s interesting.”

My son nods and smiles. “And florescent light bulbs only lose about 60% of their light because they’re made with a special gas instead of a wire.” (He’d just gone on a field trip the week before and evidently learned a lot.)

“Wow.” I act as excited as I can. Mike sets his coffee cup in the sink and gives me a knowing look.

“And guess what else?” my son continues.

“What?” I answer, trying my hardest to be patient.

“An LED light bulb only loses about 2% of its energy. It’s the best one of all.” He beams. It’s as if he’s just discovered gold.

“That’s great,” I tell him. “Thanks for sharing that.” I give him a big hug.

“Yeah,” he says proudly.

Then he sets his flashlight on the table and runs to get his socks and shoes.

Mike grabs the car keys and comes over to me. “Thanks,” he whispers. “I know that was hard for you because we’re late, but that was important to him.”

And he was right; it was important.

Even though we definitely try to be environmentally aware, and we have plenty of energy efficient light bulbs in our house, the details about them aren’t particularly interesting to me. (I’m happy to simply know they save energy.)

But the details are interesting to our son.

And how would he feel if someday he wants to be an electrical engineer or work in the field of energy conservation, and he thinks back and remembers that one morning he was tyring to explain something to his mom,

and she didn’t have time to listen?

She didn’t care. 

Would he decide it’s a stupid interest?

Not important?

Not worthwhile?…

That’s the last thing I’d want.

And so the morning was a huge lesson for me. Because it reminded me that, even when we don’t feel like we have time to listen,

we should make the time.

And that tiny sacrifice

could be the very thing

that gives our kids the motivation or confidence

to pursue the career or interest later in life that makes them the happiest,

and the most fulfilled.

And that’s what we want for them,

isn’t it? :)

What about you? Have you had any of these types of “light bulb” moments as a mom?

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  1. SF

    I hope the most efficient bulbs are in his room. Kids can adapt easily. Old people like my wife and I have trouble adjusting to different light. You might even get him a new ceiling light fixture designed for LED. LED can't be used in a totally enclosed fixture.

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