Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oh, The Power Of An 8 Year Old

One week from tomorrow, my son graduates from high school. Know what that means? Time for another embarrassing story!

But first, let me show you how handsome he is:

Esquire print ad.

GQ cover.

He's a ginger. And hates it when I say so.
But facts is facts....

This is the story of how my son shut down the entire eastern seaboard.

We took a family vacation to eastern Pennsylvania the summer my kids were 8 and 4 to visit my husband's sister and her family, who were living there at the time. (She likes to be mentioned in blogs, so here you go, Kristin!) After several lovely days spent with them, we headed north from Wilkes-Barre and into upstate New York.

We spent a day visiting the Finger Lakes area, hiking to several gorgeous waterfalls and spending the afternoon at Lake Cayuga. I had read in a travel book that Indian legend said that God laid His hand down on the most beautiful part of the Earth and created the Finger Lakes, and I have to say I agree. The next day, we continued north, stopping at a beach on the shore of Lake Ontario. It wasn't officially open for swimming yet, as it was fairly early in the morning, but we waded, and Kyle picked up rocks. Lots of smooth, oval rocks. Lots of them. Like two Walmart sacks full. We continued on to Golden Hill State Park and toured the lighthouse there.  (TRUST ME when I say you should visit this area some time. It's truly beautiful. I wanted to move there immediately, but my husband pointed out, rightly, that I wouldn't last one winter.) 

You can stay on the top floor.
Wouldn't that be cool?

I had planned for us to get to Niagara Falls in time for lunch, but we were having such a good time on the shore of Lake Ontario that we didn't get to Niagara Falls until nearly 4:00 in the afternoon. We were finally there, standing on the U.S. side, the falls below us. I happened to look over at my son and noticed he had a good-sized rock in his hand.

"Don't throw that! You don't know what's below us! There could be people down there."

We then walked over the bridge, which still sends ripples of terror straight up my hoo-haw just REMEMBERING it, to the Canada side for lunch. (I'll spare you the details at this time of my interaction with an uppity Canadian border patrol agent. Suffice it to say that I did NOT end up in jail, although my husband was pretty sure it was going to happen.) 

The scene of the crime.

As we walked through the city towards the Rain Forest Cafe, we passed a hotel where people were outside talking about the power being out and the elevator stuck (WITH PEOPLE ON IT). We continued to the restaurant. Now, if you've ever been inside a Rain Forest Cafe, you know it's dimly lit, but this was RIDICULOUS. We could hardly see at all. And it was warm and stuffy. After our (very expensive) lunch, we stopped at a souvenir shop, so I could buy a snow globe. It was open, but there were no lights on. Hmmm. I got my snow globe, and we headed back to the U.S. (Where, when entering the country again, my husband told me to let HIM deal with the border agent this time and to sit on THAT BENCH and KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT.) It was now after 5:00 in the afternoon. We were way off my schedule of getting to our hotel on the Ohio/Indiana border, but we had had SUCH a good day (in spite of the Canadian border agent). We loaded ourselves back into the car and headed out of town.

I have always heard disparaging comments about the city of Buffalo, but we drove through it at 6:00 on a Thursday evening, and there wasn't a BIT of traffic. Smooth sailing. The only really odd thing we noticed was the  traffic light at the toll booth that showed red when you pulled up and green when you had paid the correct toll was off. Interesting.

We kept driving towards Cleveland. Very little traffic still. And as we looked closer, we noticed that all the businesses we could see from the freeway appeared to be closed. Fast food. Gas stations. Malls. On Thursday evening? We turned on the radio to see if we could find an explanation.

The explanation was that there was a blackout. A big one. As we headed south out of Cleveland, we continued to listen to the news coverage as the sun set and the world became very, very dark. 50 million people were without power in eight states and Ontario. 

We were very tense as we drove across Ohio surrounded in eerie darkness. It was as though we were in a sci-fi movie. Or was it an act of terrorism? The kids were very quiet, sitting in the back of the car, as was my husband, who was beginning to worry about things like gasoline. And our dwindling supply of it. I was babbling about nothing, trying to keep everyone distracted, when the radio announcer said the cause of the blackout appeared to have originated at Niagara Falls.

I should not have done the following, but I did it anyway.

I turned towards my son and said, "Did you throw that rock when we were at Niagara Falls?"

Through the darkness, I heard, "Daddy said it was okay." 

(I'm probably going to hell for this.)


Silence from the backseat, as he tried to gauge just how much trouble he was in.

We finally found a gas station with power and filled our tank, just before the station ran out of fuel. We made it to our hotel around 1 a.m., and they had power. We drove the rest of the way home the next day without incident.

But we never really told our son that he wasn't the reason for the power outage.

Or was he?


  1. I thought MY mom was mean! I'm going to guess that he never threw another rock. Or did he, just to test you?
    I've been to Niagara Falls many times, mostly when I was a kid. We took our kids about five years ago, and I was very disappointed. When I was little, there weren't near the number of tourist garishness, and it wasn't nearly as expensive to do the things around the falls. Cool that you walked over the bridge. That's one thing we have never done.

    1. Walking across the bridge was NOT cool. It was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life! My husband was carrying my daughter at first, and I made him put her down so she could walk, because I was afraid he would somehow drop her over the bridge rail.

      I'm sure that wasn't the last rock. He's the one who set off the alarms and attracted security at the National Portrait Gallery, you might recall.

  2. He is definitely super handsome! Future GQ model for sure =)

    Also, that story was hilarious as I was reading it I kept wondering did he really knock out ALL the power!!

    1. Why, thank you! And yeah, there's always that little niggling feeling that he really might have been responsible, somehow, for that power outage.

  3. That is hilarious. Tell Kyle I said he looks like Tom Brady.

  4. Handsome? For sure.

    Power outage causer? Hey - if the blame fits...

  5. A little fear can be a good thing. I wonder how long he actually believed it? Hmm...

    1. He's still not 100% sure it wasn't him. And his sister would burst into tears if anyone talked about it, convinced the police were going to arrest him and put him in jail.

  6. Hahaha! That's great! Hilarious! Poor kid, but you're good... ;)

    1. I'm not the kind of person to let an opportunity like that pass me by.

  7. Great story. I don't blame you one bit. You saw an opportunity to teach a lesson. Seriously, what else is a mom supposed to do? :)