Right before dinner last night the light bulb in the bathroom
blew out. There was no chance to change it with hungry, tired
children in need of my full attention. I just turned on the
hallway light and ran back to the kitchen to pour cornflakes
and heat up Shabbos leftovers. The babies were crying, the
milk was spilling, the table top was gooey, the phone was
ringing and suddenly, I see my seven-year-old standing before
me, holding the fragile burnt out bulb. He must have removed
the glass covering and unscrewed it by himself.
"Here, Ima," he offered it to me. "It's no good anymore. See,
the wire isn't connected."
And then he looked straight into my eyes and asked, "Can I
put in a new one?"
I wanted to say "NO!" I almost even said, "Please don't touch
the light bulbs. You'll break them!" But something inside me
made me stop and instead, look at him gratefully and say,
"That would be great. Here, let me just see what number
wattage it is."
I peered at the bulb in my hand and found a tiny white number
frosted on it. "100," I called to my son, who was already up
on the stool looking in the cupboard for the right one. "Is
this good?" he asked, showing me the small blue cardboard box
with the number 100 written on it.
"Yes, and please be careful," I answered, and he skipped off,
happy that I had entrusted him with this job he had never
done before. Later that night, when my husband was getting
ready to retire, he commented, "You put a very bright bulb in
the bathroom today, didn't you?"
"We put in the same one that was there before. I checked the
number on the bulb and it said `100'."
"Well, it's definitely brighter than the one before."
"But I told you," I started to sound shrill. "I looked right
at it and we put in the same one as before!"
"But it's brighter in there now!"
Well, I didn't say another word. There probably isn't
anything harder to do for folks like me who were raised in
the `modern' West than to admit to a spouse, "You're right,
dear." The whole secular upbringing was against that kind of
casual giving in. [A person has to stand up for his
So, I knew just what to do. Why argue? I went straight to the
kitchen to rummage in the garbage bag and pull out the old
light bulb and... and... just show him! "How dare he not
believe me!" I was thinking to myself, getting all huffed up
inside as I pushed aside the various pieces of refuse that
lay between me and that old bulb. "Maybe it got crushed," I
wondered. Then, with glee, I spotted it, quickly pulled it
out, turned it over, and stared at the tiny frosted print.
Yes, there was the number, 100, just like I said.
Uh-oh! What's this? Another number was printed on the bulb,
besides the one I had seen before. This one clearly had a
large W written next to it: 60 W.
"Hmmm... better put this right back in the garbage!" I
thought, as I slipped it back into the bag, along with some
of my self-righteous steam.