Five nights without power, with two kids and a dog.
But, when you consider that over the past year we have seen earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, fires, and floods a plenty across the nation, in retrospect, five nights without power is not that big of a deal. The truth is that Vermont is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irene, so a little time in the dark while temperatures were still above freezing should be a piece of cake.
The only problem is that, when you are living it, such rational thought and perspective are not present. By day three I was spent, angry, and completely irrational; and I wasn’t the only one.
Thankfully I had an expert in perspective at my side – my 4-year-old.
As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This kid was actually in his glory the whole time we were without power. Based on his excited reaction to everyone sleeping by the gas fireplace one night, and staying in a hotel with his grandparents for the rest of the outage, you would have thought we were in Disney Land and not suffering through a major inconvenience.
Sleeping by the fire with the whole family was kind of neat for me in the beginning, but lost its luster around 2 a.m. with a stiff neck from sleeping on the couch, but for my boy, he was literally (and physically) bouncing up and down with joy. The bouncing came in the form of him and his 1-year-old brother jumping up and down on the mattress we had set up for them on the floor.
He also got a real kick out of everyone walking around with flashlights, and especially enjoyed that his daddy was using his Buzz Lightyear flashlight the majority of the time. The battery powered lantern we typically use for camping was our main source of light, and he made sure that he was the one who got to carry it around whenever we moved from room to room.
But, as much as he enjoyed the living room “camping” experience, the hotel experience was off the charts. Elevators, Grammy and Grampy living side by side, and the hugely popular third floor. No joke, I successfully thwarted a huge meltdown by suggesting we go check out the third floor. Within seconds, the temper tantrum stopped, the tears dried up, and all it took was trip on the elevator up to the next level. Naturally, taking trips to the third floor was all he wanted to do for the rest of our time there.
During our adventures through the hotel, he loved hitting the buttons on the elevator, using the key card to get back into the room, and saying hello to all of the people we met in our travels. We were even able to squeeze a little learning time into the mix – L is for Lobby, the red dot on the map means “You are here,” and the arrow points down when inserting the key card.
After we got home, and I had time to unwind basking in the sweet, sweet glow of artificial lighting, it really hit me how I let a situation that wasn’t all that bad negatively affect me. I only had to look to my 4-year-old to realize how I should have approached the situation. I should have tried harder to make the best out of the hand that was dealt us, and much like my little buddy did, turn sleeping in the living room into a family camping trip, and living in a hotel into an amusement park adventure.
I’ll be honest, I can’t promise that I will have this perspective the next time I am inconvenienced, and sometimes I wonder if I’m even capable of such, but at least now, I know where to look for guidance.
‘Brad the Dad’ is a parent columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter: @readbradthedad
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 11/5/11.