The Refrigerator Light

He opened it. He closed it.

He opened it. He closed it.

He opened it. He closed it.

What in the world was he doing?

And then it hit me!

My two-year old son was trying to figure out how and why the light in the refrigerator goes off and on. I am fairly certain that at age two my son has not yet cracked the code. But watching him for those twenty seconds try to figure out one of life’s little mysteries, was beautiful, humorous and insightful all at the same time.

And, as much as I wanted to videotape this incredible experience, I knew that if I tried, I might miss a moment that could never be returned to me. My choice not to videotape the event reminded of Justin Tarte’s piece, “Is being connected actually disconnecting us?”

The decision not to videotape was the right one because only seconds after it began, it was over. I was at least able to get my wife’s attention so that she was able to experience this magic as well.

Looking back I can’t help but wonder, what in my son caused him to do what he did and whatever it was, how can I keep it in him forever? The excitement that he has for the world around him is wonderful. The joy he gets from the little things is contagious.

I don’t know how many times in the past few months I have unbuckled him from his car seat, gotten him out of the car, and he has exclaimed, “Look Daddy the moon!” Each time his excitement is as if he is seeing the moon for the first time. I always play along and reply something like, “Wow Derek that is the moon!” My enthusiasm never matches his, but I sell it pretty well. In his timeless masterpiece The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, “All grown-ups were children first. (But few remember it).”

Unfortunately, I believe far too often this is true. And that is a shame, because while it may be too late for some us to recapture all of our youthful curiosity, we must make sure that our children and our students hold onto it and never let it go. The world is an amazing place with much beyond our understanding. It is beautiful. It is mysterious and it can continue to inspire us if we just let it happen. As Bob Seger sang in his 1980 hit song Running Against The Wind, “I wish I didn’t know now, what I didn’t know then.”

Maybe it is not too late. Maybe if I stop thinking and start experiencing the world along with my children and my students then maybe, just maybe, I could begin to see it again for all its wonderful splendor. I think it is definitely worth a try.

Marvel at the moon today.

Check your refrigerator light.

And above all else, stay curious!


  1. Enjoyed the read, Drew. Thanks for sharing.
    I think a lot about how we lose our curiosity and how we can contain it. I’ve got two boys: 3 and 16 months. They are wowed by a lot, and have opened my mind back up to really seeing things for what’s there (as well as the possibilities). As long as we can imagine it and dream it, we can build it.

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