Lights Out…Play On!

In the middle of dinner last night, we lost power.

We weren’t expecting this until summer, but with the unseasonably warm weather in Chicago, we were not completely surprised.

What did surprise us was the WHOOOP of joy that both our 5-year-old son, Nick, and two-year-old son, Gabe, let out. (Olivia, at 7 months, reacted with a simple widening of her already enormous eyes.) But this WHOOP soon turned to BOO when we announced that it was time to head upstairs for story time and bed.

“How will we read in the dark,” asked Nick. “Only bats can see in the dark.”

I opened my mouth to yes-and-but-and him – “Yes, it’s true that bats see in the dark, and I’m really proud of you for making that connection, but bats aren’t the only creatures with night vision, and they don’t read” – but Lori’s not-so-subtle glare meant her instinct for simplicity trumped my need for specificity.

“No worries, buddy,” I self-corrected. “We’re going on a reading adventure!”

Up the stairs we went, flashlights in tow for an impromptu indoor camping trip. Out came the blankets, sleeping bags, sleepy friends and whatever else our two boys could throw onto the floor in 2 minutes. Nick chose Stellaluna (of course) and The Lorax; Gabe opted for The Foot Book (again) and My Numbers.

Olivia opted for a pacifier.

Huddled on the floor of their shared bedroom, we read by flashlight, alternating between stories on the page and stories from our minds as we acted out shadow puppets on the wall. Even after the lights returned, interrupting our reenactment of the DOOM OF THE DINOSAURS – Olivia’s head was the comet – we took a brief intermission to flip the switch before plunging back into darkness.

It would have been easy, I suppose, to let the house lights signal the end of our play. Instead we chose to stay in the moment, making magic with our children, until the last puppet took his final bow.

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