Some of you may remember that power outages were a frequent occurrence and regular problem in our old house and neighborhood. We lost power almost every time it snowed, or rained really hard, or there was some wind, or somebody sneezed a little too loudly while standing a little too close to the power lines, etc. Sometimes it would be out for a few hours, most of the time it took at least a full day, and occasionally it went out for multiple days at a time. Make that multiple occasions, actually.
You may remember all that, but it was made clear to me this morning that my children absolutely do not.
Around 6:24 a.m., a couple of our smoke detectors started beeping. (OH GOD DO YOU ALSO REMEMBER THE BEEPING?) We realized the power had gone out, like huh. That's honestly never happened, and is still one of my Top Five Favorite Things about this house and our neighborhood: Underground power lines that don't get knocked out by falling tree branches every other goddamn day. Glory be.
We peeked out a few windows to confirm that it wasn't just us -- the entire neighborhood was completely dark. We heard some sirens nearby, so...okay, probably a traffic accident knocked out a transformer or something.
(I'm not sure I've ever mentioned it specifically here before, but one my non-Internet-asshole paying gigs is with a very large energy company, doing content management for various gas-and-electric utilities' websites and intranets. Including OUR gas-and-electric utility. I'm calling this fact out, before I go on to poke mild fun at my children online, because this morning I went to report our outage on the very website I help maintain on a daily basis and could not remember my username or password. Now my account is locked after too many wrong attempts and I have to call them on the phone. So. My ability to function in even the mildest of crises remains solidly business as usual.)
ANYWAY. The smoke detectors woke Noah up and he immediately began to panic. No power! No lights! NO Internet! What was he supposed to do??
I told him to get up and get dressed and...I don't know. Eat the same bowl of dry Cheerios he's eaten every morning for breakfast since the beginning of time? You don't need to plug in the Cheerios, dude.
Ezra also woke up and immediately began to question his ability to get dressed for school because Alexa wasn't working and couldn't tell him the weather.
"It's JANUARY," I reminded him. "My guess is it's still sweater weather. But you can check the weather on your phone if you don't believe me."
He did not believe me. But he didn't want to check his phone because without power, he couldn't charge it. He needed to conserve the battery. Mom, check the weather on your phone.
(His battery was at 100%. My head was starting to hurt a little, by this point.)
This was all happening well before 7 a.m., so I tried to go back to bed. Noah ran into our room minutes later with a fresh crisis on his hands.
"I need a drink of water! But the water isn't working! What do I do???"
I thought for a second we had a secondary utility problem with the water supply, but no. The "water" he was talking about was the dispenser on the fridge, which, yeah. Not gonna work. But..Noah. There's a...sink? Did you try the sink?
(We have an under-the-sink water filtration system installed, so the idea of drinking water right from the faucet is not completely foreign to them. In fact, it was their primary source of hydration for years until we upgraded the refrigerator. My son simply forgot that sinks exist.)
I got a couple texts from their schools about the power outage but decided not to say anything -- the last thing this shitshow of a morning needed was the possibility of NO SCHOOL being dangled out and then cruelly ripped away. Jason had at least figured out how to get text alerts from our power company (MY EMPLOYER, WHO I DO LOTS OF TECH-SAVVY WIZARDRY FOR) and the estimated restoration time was in less than an hour.
We'd been without power for maybe 30 minutes at this point. Ezra dragged his comforter off his bed and sat at the kitchen counter wrapped up in it like a burrito. "It's just so...cold" he whimpered.
They put frozen waffles in the toaster and then...oh, right. They worried about the state of their lunchboxes, which regularly spend hours un-refrigerated at school. They kept asking for flashlights, despite the fact that the sun was already coming up. They were both baffled as to how they'd know when to leave for the bus stops because the clocks on the stove and microwave weren't working.
"YOUR PHONES," Jason and I kept shouting at them from our bedroom. "YOU HAVE LIKE 15 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE. JUST CHECK YOUR PHONES, WHICH ARE CLOCKS AND ALSO FLASHLIGHTS, BECAUSE THIS IS A WONDERFUL YET TERRIBLE TIME TO BE ALIVE."
Jason, meanwhile, used his phone to check a YouTube tutorial on how to open our garage doors without electricity. He then left for work much earlier than usual, for reasons I cannot even fathom.
I'd just started to doze back off when Noah rushed in AGAIN, this time holding his alarm clock, which was set to go off around 7:15. The battery back-up didn't seem to be working! What should he do? Where do we keep the batteries?
I couldn't understand why this was suddenly a problem. He was...already awake? He didn't need the alarm to go off?
"TOMORROW, Mom. I'm going to need it to work TOMORROW in case there's still NO POWER."
Honestly, woman. Get your shit together. There's milk curdling in the fridge as we speak.
The power came back on at 7:39 a.m. Everything is fine and normal, except that I am now deeply concerned about some of my children's coping skills. And coming from me, you know that's really saying something.
(Ike slept through the entire thing.)