Power outages and toddler entertainment

After returning from a wonderful writer’s workshop on Saturday I was able to enjoy some fabulously entertaining “running around time” (aka- chase the toddler) with my son.  We zoomed around and under the kitchen table, behind the recliner, beside the couch and down next to the big, old upright piano.  The day was relatively stormy, blustering even, so this was the best way for us to work off all that crazy energy (his, not mine- I don’t usually have the stuff) since we couldn’t go outside.  Then, after dinner, the power went out.

Dylan doesn’t seem to be phased all that much by the dark, unless you count his awed expression when he turns a light off, but it did leave me in a quandary I’m sorry to say.  First of all- we were in the basement when it happened. In perfect lighting, dry feet and/or grippy socks/shoes I’ll go flying down stairs- and that is with NO help from an added 27lbs or so sitting on one of my hips so, as you can imagine, the idea of going up the stairs in the dark carrying said bringer of 27lbs was not exactly appealing. So, as I’m yelling (fruitlessly might I add) for my husband to find a flashlight and come down the stairs for us I hunt down Dylan and secure him to my person.  (To those without children reading this- I assure you, they get into plenty of mischief before your very eyes so the idea of him wandering around in the dark naturally had me quite concerned for his welfare-and my sanity.)

As I listened to the hubby’s expletive riddled dialogue while he searched for aforementioned flashlights I gave up hope and, with thanks to the dark navy light of the outdoors trickling down the cellar stairs, made my way up and out of the dungeon.  When the candle on the piano was lit, and I found the flashlight, I was struck by how odd it was to not have power.  [It also reminded me of a scarier time without power- the first whole day at home, alone, with Dylan.  And did I mention it was an ice storm and he was less than a week old?  Yeah.  Fear had a name and it was “no power, no heat, no water, roads covered in ice so I didn’t want to traverse with him anywhere and so locked us in my bedroom all day until the power came back on at about 8pm”.  Okay, so it was a long name- you get my point.]

Where was I?  Power.  Right.  So our bedtime routine usually consists of about 20min of Pixar or a Baby Einstein DVD and this particular evening that went completely out the window.(Incidentally the video is followed by reading one or two of his books then a few songs sung by yours truly)  It got me wondering- what on Earth did women do in the days before electricity when at home with their little ones?  I don’t mean this flippantly (well, kind of) but rather from a place of awe.  The 15-20min I allow Dylan some tube time are the only time I get stuff done (that and nap/bedtime).  Of course now I’m concerned with him being a rather fearless toddler so I don’t really count on him actually not doing anything insane during those brief interludes but, still, they help me regain my sanity.  I think of no power I also think “how would we heat our food” (as Dylan’s literally just finished being heated before the power went out), and if it’s a dark day “where are all the flashlights so we can read/see”.  Our lives have gotten so much easier over the years and yet much more complex.

The demands of an instant send world have incontrovertibly changed how quickly we expect to hear from people.  Does it not also aid in the pressure we apply to ourselves in what we need to accomplish?

While I’m not inclined to give up my computer (write long hand- are you kidding me?) I do think it would be good for all of us to step away from technology, to assess what it is we would do should our power goes out, our cell phone doesn’t work or, in general, how to do without any number of technological conveniences we now have.  What would you do for entertainment?  With a child?  What would be your dream vacation from technology be like?


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