I, of course, got to play the mean village fire inspector who visited the power plant and shut it down for code violations. I took his box apart, undid the tape and explained to him the dangers of playing with electricity. I let him keep the yarn in his Christmas village. The next day, there were cords all over his room again in an all new complicated power grid. At least this time he had used twist ties because, as he argued while I took them apart, “they won’t catch fire as easily.”
Sure, I could just lock up every cord in the house, but (as we all know) Gabie can be pretty persistent and I suspect if I quash his natural curiosity about electricity he might start sticking silverware into outlets or something. So I have relented part way. He can keep two cords and plug things into them as long as he follows certain rules. I’m hoping that he will soon tire of this fixation and move on to something less dangerous. The other night after watching our Blue Planet DVD, Gabie informed me he’d like a baby blue whale for Christmas. Now there’s an idea.
So now, on any given night when I go to tuck him in, Gabie has the following things operating in his “electrical system”:
- his Christmas lights
- the baby monitor (which we normally don’t turn on at night since we leave their door open but now Gabie insists that it must be plugged into an extension cord so he can rest it on the floor really close to Nora’s crib just in case we want to hear her eyelashes move)
- a humidifier that Gabie says must be on since he feels like he’s “probably coming down with something”
- Ken's old cell phone (which doesn't really work but Gabie charges every night) with the cord dangling from a hook on his wall and looping over his headboard
- a nightlight
- the lights in his Christmas village on the windowsill
- his CD player
I wait until Gabie and Georgie are both asleep and I go back into the room and gently take off the headphones, untangle the cords, lift the giant panda off Gabie's face, turn off the CD player, get down the cell phone, and one by one, unplug everything. It has become a little ritual and I can’t sleep until it’s done.
One night, Gabie had moved the nightlight from the outlet next to Nora’s bed to the outlet next to his. His bed is already pushed right up against the wall, so he had to squeeze the light in. Before I went to bed, I moved the nightlight back where it belonged. The next night, Gabie had moved it again. I put it back. On the third night, I told Gabie that there just wasn’t room for the nightlight to be squished behind his bed and he started to cry. “It’s my star!” he said. “Whatever you do, don’t unplug the star.” I was about to force the issue and insist on moving it again when I took a good look at his wall. Sure enough, the nightlight—because of the way it was reflecting against the side of his bed—was sending groovy disco rays up the wall. It looked a lot like a star. I let him keep it. What's a genuine Christmas Village Electrical System without a star?
Since the star is a big part of the Christmas story, I thought I’d mention a painting by Giotto that includes a famous star. The star in Giotto’s painting of the Visitation of the Magi has a long bright tail, like a comet. In fact Giotto's inspiration came from a recent sighting of Halley’s Comet (in 1301). I’ve always thought this was a pretty nifty connection. The European Space Agency thought so too, and in 1985 when they launched a space probe to take pictures from inside the nucleus of Halley’s comet, they named it Giotto, of course.