Earth Hour (or Why Some Games Shouldn’t Be Played in the Dark)

A few weeks ago, when I showed Jeffrey the Earth Hour website and explained to him what it was, he decided we should do it. Turn off all the lights for one hour and find something non-electronic (electronical as he says) to do for an hour. He’s been reminding me about it since.

So last night, I made some cheese/salsa dip and after sending Daddy to the store for chips (I hadn’t realized we were out), we banished Daddy & Bennett to the bedroom to watch cartoons and we sat down to a table full of candles, with a stack of board games on the counter behind us. I knew if we tried to do this with Bennett running around, he’d be all into both the candles and the games. Since burning the house down wasn’t on the agenda, I thought it would be better if he were otherwise occupied.

Jeffrey wanted to play Monopoly, Jr first, but before I even got the lid completely off the box, I realized that probably wasn’t going to work. Not enough light to read comfortably. Plus, too much stuff too keep up with when there was a table full of candles involved. (That burning down the house thing again.) So we decided on Sorry instead. Now, I grew up in rural Arkansas and losing power was a regular thing. We had lanterns that we kept handy and used often. It didn’t take us long to learn that those lanterns do not produce enough light to play Uno. You can’t tell the blue cards from the green ones. Turns out Sorry has the same issue. We couldn’t use yellow, either because we have the new version (of the original game) and the pawns are opaque (actually, they’re more translucent… Can something be translucent if it’s not completely clear?) rather than solid. So, Jeffrey was blue and I was red. That went pretty well once we figured out what we could see and got started.

We had a bit of an “oops” moment when I got up to reheat the cheese dip in the microwave. We were having fun and forgot we weren’t “supposed” to use electrical stuff. Jeffrey declared that having the lights off was enough and that we could use the microwave for 30 seconds. So we did.

After the game of Sorry (which I won by about 5 spaces, BTW), we played Connect Four. You would think that would be pretty easy in low light. Turns out you have to look a little harder to tell which are open spaces and which are black checkers. It’s been a few months since I’ve played Connect Four with Jeffrey and he’s actually gotten pretty good. I won all our games, but it wasn’t easy. He was setting up strategies, plotting moves several turns in advance, PAYING ATTENTION. That was the big one. He used to not pay attention to the… board or whatever you call it. And with his mathematical mind, I doubt I’ll be winning much longer. And he told me he had learned to play better by playing a similar game on Club Penguin. I knew those online games would be trouble.

By the time he got tired of Connect Four, it was almost 10:00. (We didn’t get started until almost 9:00. Don’t tell anyone.) I told him we could play one game of Candyland. I had to get up for church this morning and our Candyland games usually wind up being marathons for some reason. Well, remember that color thing I mentioned with the Uno cards. Candyland uses colors, too, you know. Not only is it hard to tell the blue cards from the green ones, it’s hard to tell red from orange and orange from yellow. So after the first few times, when we tempted fate by holding the card near an open flame to see it better, I decided it would be safer to compare the cards to the squares on the board. The colors on the board were much easier to tell apart, probably because they were all there side-by-side for comparison. Jeffrey won that game, BTW. He almost always wins Candyland, which is kind of weird when you think about it, because it’s all about the cards you draw, rather than any skill.

That game didn’t take anywhere near as long as our Candyland games usually do, so it was right at 10:00 when we finished. We turned on the lights and cleaned up the kitchen, including blowing out the candles, which Jeffrey had never done. Weird, I know, but we don’t use candles around here. In fact, I’m surprised we had any around to use last night. But as were heading to bed, Jeffrey informed me that his nephew’s birthday party that afternoon and our game time had made it “a really fun day!” Sure we could have played games with the lights on – and with much less squinting – but it’s fun to do something different sometimes.