Cam Marston on Getting His Kids to Turn Off the Lights.
On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam Marston identifies yet another way that he has become his father.
I heard myself say it, and I could hear my father’s voice coming out of my mouth as it happened. “Please turn off your lights when you leave your bedroom,” I said to my teenage son. “There is no need to leave those lights on if there’s no one in there. Ceiling fan, too. Turn it off, or I’m taking money out of your allowance.”
I remember as a child my father saying this to me. As I’d leave for my walk to school every morning, my parents would pester me to turn off the lights. They’d remind me that electricity costs money, and replacing light bulbs does, too. I’d shake my head and roll my eyes and wish my parents would worry about things that really mattered, not about light bulbs and a little bit of electricity. One of my neighborhood friend’s father worked for Alabama Power back in the day, and I remember the father telling me that the cost to run a one-hundred watt light bulb for a day was about fifty cents or something like that. And I’d remind my parents of that, as I made a huff about turning around, going back into my bedroom and turning off the lights.
Well, I have now become my father in yet another way. I now remind my own children, and one child in particular, you know who you are, to go back and turn off their lights when they leave their room. Whatever light is on, if they’re leaving their bedroom for any reasonable amount of time, turn it off. It’s a waste of money, I say, to light an empty room. Besides that, the power rates are higher in Alabama than average, and the LED bulbs that I buy to replace the old bulbs cost a good bit more, too. These new LED light bulbs are impressive with how little electricity they use and how long they’ll last, by the way. It’s somewhat strange to know that at my age of fifty-three years old, I’m buying light bulbs that could very well outlive me! I tell my children that these light bulbs are the only inheritance they’ll get from me, so treat them well. These light bulbs will be my memory.
However, my urgings and reminders and pestering and threats do little to get my kids to turn their lights off. Nothing I do or say works. My wife reminds me that they’re teenagers, and their brains are full of hormones and random thoughts and confusion, and it’s just a jumble in their heads at this age. She says I need to give them a break. My reply is that there doesn’t appear to be anything at all going on in their heads these days if they’re incapable of simply remembering to turn off their lights.
Which is, I’m guessing, exactly what my father said about me about forty years ago.
I’m Cam Marston, and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.