Monday, March 9, 2015

Please, kids, just turn off the lights

Back in April 2013, I wrote a blog post titled "If my children want to make me happy, here's what they'll do..." Item #1 on that list  placed there because it was very important to me  was the following:

(1) Stop leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms: If you leave a room and there's no other person left in that room, and if the light is on, turn the light off. Off. Turn the light off. Just turn the light off. Don't leave the light on. Turn it off. On = bad. Off = good. Is this clear? You're shooting for the light being in the "off" position here. That's what I'm trying to get across. If you leave the room, and you're the last person in the room, the light should be off when you leave. Not on. Off.

Pretty clear, no? I know that at least 60% of my children read that post, and I felt confident that they would not only understand and apply these instructions themselves, but also disseminate the message to the remaining 40% of children and thus ensure universal compliance in the house when it comes to the very sore subject of turning off lights when they leave rooms.

Sadly, nearly two years later, I have the regrettable duty to inform you that we have made virtually no progress within the family in this particular area. Other things have gotten better as the kids have aged, but light extinguishment, I must say, is not among them.

Several times a week, I will notice a light on in the basement. Hearing no noise in the basement, I will immediately suspect that it's unoccupied and therefore being unnecessarily illuminated.

So I will walk down there to assess the situation, and 9 times out of 10, my suspicions will be confirmed: Empty basement, blazing lights, angry daddy.

There are two issues at play here, you understand. One involves the simple economics of the situation. The electric bill, which it must be said I am solely responsible for paying, goes up the more electricity we use. A certain amount of electrical consumption is unavoidable, of course. I get that.

But keeping the lights on in rooms devoid of human beings is not within my budget, and is one of many situations in which the already-high cost of raising children goes up unnecessarily. When you leave the room, my little ones, you must turn off the light. TURN. OFF. THE. LIGHT.

The second issue is one of responsibility and maturity. I have one child in her early 20s, three in their teens, and one who is 9. None of these is so young that they can't be expected to have the common courtesy and respect to turn off the lights when they leave the room.

I urge them to try the following any time they're leaving a room:

STEP 1: Ask yourself, "Am I leaving this room for an extended period of time? Will it be more than 60 seconds before I come back?"

STEP 2: If the answer is "yes" and you're the only room currently in the room, then ask yourself, "OK, is there anything I should do before I exit the room?"

STEP 3: Consider that the answer to that question is always "yes." And that something that you need to do is turn off the lights.

STEP 4: Locate the light switch.

STEP 5: Change it to a position such that the lights go out.

STEP 6: Exit the room without turning the lights back on. Or, if you do need to turn the lights back on, go back to step 1 and repeat this process before making your departure.

Do we have that, kids? Just turn off the lights in any room from which you're about to exit, again assuming that no one is left in the room who may be using the lights (and who can presumably be trusted to turn off those lights themselves when they leave).

Please, I'm at the end of my rope on this. If I pull out of the driveway one more time knowing there's no one at home, and as I look up to the second floor of the house I notice someone has left the light on in their room, I'll break. I'm not kidding, I'll snap.

And in the ultimate bit of irony, I'll ask the warden to make sure he turns off the electric chair when he's finished after they execute me for murdering you.

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