A Flashlight Set Upon a Hill Cannot be Hid

Every time the Trans Siberian Orchestra comes on the radio with that frenzied, pounding version of Carol of the Bells, I think of flashlights.

Like Ron Burgundy, around here flashlights are kind of a big deal. The boys on the spectrum can’t get enough of running around the house with them, shining them in people’s eyes. The three-year-old agrees, except when someone shines one in his eyes. Then it’s not cool.

The flashlight fetish is Dutch’s fault. He is addicted to purchasing and hoarding tiny, powerful lights.

What else do you expect from an electronics engineer? He can’t help himself. He’s hooked on the unmatched rush of being prepared in any situation that requires sudden illumination.

Also, he adores well-engineered things. We spent part of our honeymoon touring the Hoover Dam, paying extra for the deluxe Hard Hat Tour which let us see the massive generators at the bottom of the dam. “I have always wanted to see the generators,” he told me earnestly, even passionately. What could I say? His eyes were glistening. The only other time I had seen him look so wistfully blissed out was at our wedding ceremony.

It’s just in his nature. Dutch likes the gadgets.

So when Henry announced two years ago that he needed to bring a flashlight to use in the 5th Grade light show during the school’s holiday music program, I put Dutch on it. He retrieved several flashlights from his various hidey-holes around the house and let Henry choose one to take to school.

Easy. Done and done.

Except that Henry came home from school and announced that he needed a “less bright” flashlight. Apparently his light was brighter than his classmates’ by a lot. Like a lot a lot. His teacher had suggested that he find a less blinding light for the light show.

Dutch was highly offended by this. “We do not OWN weaker flashlights,” he said, annoyed. “It’s not my fault if all the other kids brought crappy lights.”

Engineers. They have standards, apparently.

Henry and I shrugged.

I arrived at the school for the music program that morning. The lights went out when the 5th grade took to the stage. Truman, barely one year old at the time, whimpered in the dark. He startled when the Trans Siberian Orchestra boomed from the sound system.

And then, magic!

Truman didn’t make a peep, he was utterly transfixed by the choreographed blinking lights. I, on the other hand, laughed until I snorted.

Why, you ask? Because Henry’s light was so frigging bright, it was ridiculous.

Want to know which one is my son? See the blinding, piercing beam that sweeps the room like a prison searchlight?

That’s him.

Nothing wrong with shining brightly, kid. Remember that.

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