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.

We’re running late for church, but 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.” He 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 that we can talk about light bulbs later.

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

This matters, Genny.

This matters.

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

He nods and smiles. “Yeah. 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 comes in the kitchen, sets his coffee cup in the sink and gives me a knowing look.

“And guess what else?” my son continues.

“What?” I try 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 like he just discovered gold.

“That’s great,” I say. “Thanks for sharing.” 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.

Those kinds of details are exciting to my son. He loves to understand the how and why behind things. Things like light bulbs.

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 that conversation,

that morning,

reminded me that even when we don’t feel like we have time to listen,

we should make the time.

Because that could be the very thing that helps our kids to love their own gifts and strengths and gives them the confidence to pursue the career or interest later in life that they are most passionate about.

And that’s what we want for them,

isn’t it?

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:14

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

5 Responses to My son and the light bulbs
  1. Meaghan Jackson
    May 6, 2012 | 5:36 am

    You know I have been noticing my attitude towards my son’s “light bulb” conversations recently. He often starts talking and rambling on, walking around so I can hardly hear him. I know he is excited and I realized that I have been cutting him off. Thank you for the reminder to slow down because he matters!

  2. Carol Hatcher
    May 6, 2012 | 11:23 am

    Oh, this was a great reminder. With three kids I always try to listen when they want to tell me something but they invariably speak when I’m in the middle of a conversation with my husband or in the middle of preparing dinner. Just this week my son made a comment about Dezi from I Love Lucy. “I didn’t know you had seen I Love Lucy,” I told him. “Yeah,” he said, “We’ve been watching it at school to learn about that time period. I told you about it last week and you said, ‘Oh, ok. I didn’t think you heard me.” It was like a knife to my soul. I’ve got to remember to stop, look, and listen. Thank you again for this lightbulb moment!

  3. Laura
    May 6, 2012 | 5:13 pm

    Well said. Yep, I’ve had these moments too. 🙂

  4. Barbie
    May 10, 2012 | 10:53 am

    Guilty 🙁 I often hurry up my children’s conversations so that I can get back to what it is I was doing. I want to always focus in on them and give them my full attention. Isn’t that what God does with us? He’s always focused in. Thank you for this gentle reminder.

  5. Lisa Marie
    June 5, 2012 | 12:19 pm

    Wow – powerful. Thanks for sharing.