(I wrote this for my son’s school after the 2008 Earth Hour on his school teacher’s request for feedback. This was the first Earth Hour we participated in.)
When my son’s preschool sent an email encouraging us to involve the kids in the Earth Hour, I wondered how to get through the sixty whole minutes with the kids “in the dark”? I decided to we could have a candle light dinner, so that the kids could do something and would not get restless. I had a word with 4yr old DS, to prepare him but he was ready, “Ms.F told me oready*,” he announced proudly.
On D-day we went out in the evening to get some candles (they had to be the environment-friendly bee wax ones, you see) and rushed home. A quick wash and it was the “Lights Out” time. In an unplanned yet surprisingly synchronized manner, we lit candles and switched off lights and pulled the plugged off all electrical appliances. Finally the refrigerator was the one only draining power.
Darkness was something I was prepared for but no fan or air con? Oh no! My mind raced furiously, what about the battery operated ones – surely that is OK?
“Sorry, you can’t,” declared DD, my haughty ten-year old as she dashed to her room.
Right! Now what – sweaty sticky me for the next sixty minutes? Where were those fancy, never–used hand fans we had purchased in those souvenir shops? I need not have troubled myself, for DD returned with her hand made paper fans. Not great works of art I would say, but they gave me the much needed breeze.
We settled down around the candles sang some songs. 10 minutes of off-key singing is enough for anybody. We thought the stale old game of passing-the-parcel would be good way to spend some time. And that posed a problem. Music would mean turning on a CD player or a radio and that was a strict “No-No”. We settled on a plate and a spoon and delegated this role to the much relieved grandpa. Then we realized that a spoon banging on the plate generated noise not music especially in the hands of a musically challenged man. So we finally settled on a prayer bell and started the game.
We faithfully played out our roles including some crude ones dictated by my 10-year-old (hopefully another passing stage, amen). The game moved along smoothly despite the father worrying over whether the parcel, which was a teddy bear, would catch fire from the candles. And I was enlightened on why our forefathers had invented the lantern and preferred it over the romantic candle.
A few Kodak-moments later the energy levels were still strong. Nobody was in a mood to eat so we played a few rounds of “Freeze”. We were interrupted by the Cukoo clock announcing the time was 9:00 pm. I had to play my mommy-role and insist on the much delayed dinner. Begging and pleading followed. Sigh! Granted extension for another ten minutes. All good things come to an end and soon it was “Lights On” time. And boy, were we hungry!!
It turned out to be an entertaining and enlightening, in more than one way.
PS. The next day evening, at sharp 8:00pm, DS went room to room switching off the lights. It took me ten whole minutes to convince him that it was a one-day event. He was very disappointed, so I have promised him that we will to do it again, soon. Also took the opportunity to explain we could make switching off lights when we do not need it, an everyday affair. It has become a habit for him now but DD still needs reminders.
Since then, I am fully equipped with a few lanterns and selection of different candles. We have done this a few times, its been fun so far.
Looking forward to Saturday!
To me, Earth hour is not about saving electricity for one hour. It is about becoming aware of how much of dependent we are on power , and to set us thinking on what can we do to conserve. It is an opportunity to explore possibilities, discuss ideas, trigger a change in mindset/ habits…