My husband is fond of saying that when our children grow up, leave home and have their first homes of their own, we’re going to go for an extended visit and wreak our revenge.  While there, he swears that he’s going to walk around the house and systematically turn every light on as he goes, together with any other electrical devices such as TVs or stereos.  For my part, I’m going to leave the milk out, forget to close the fridge, leave my dirty underwear and socks on the floor and drink out of their orange juice containers.  And that’s just for starters; we have plenty of years to come up with many more creative ideas for retribution.  Bwaaahhhhaaaa!

While both kids are pretty bad about most of these things to some extent, our teenager – Amber – is by far the worst…especially about leaving the lights and electronics running when she leaves the room, and that – especially – drives my husband bonkers.  Unfortunately no amount of poking and prodding, grounding or yelling, or even downright begging and pleading makes a difference.  It’s simply outside the circumference of her rotating world and so it’s something that she consistently forgets to remember…or remembers to forget, as the case may be.

One evening my husband was at his end.  It was a Saturday night and Amber was the last person to head upstairs to bed.  Troy and I had closed and locked all doors, set the alarm and shut off all but the lights and television Amber was using, and then headed upstairs to bed.  Somewhere around about 3:00 a.m, Troy heard a noise and went downstairs to check it out.  Not surprisingly, the noise he heard was the TV Amber had left on in the living room, right next to the kitchen, bathroom and dining room where lights were a’blazing as well.  Once again, she’d left on every light and electrical appliance in her path en route to bed.

Now, I was sleeping through all of this, so this is where I come into the story.  I was awakened when Troy returned to bed and, though nothing seemed amiss, the violent shaking of his silent laughter gave me a clue that something was up.

“What’s so funny?”  I asked.

“Nothing.”  he said.

I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but the bed continued to shake.  “Why are you laughing?” I asked as I began to get irritated.

“Just wait,” he said.

“For what?”

“Just wait.  Give it a second,” he responded.

Another moment or two went by and I was almost dozing back to sleep when I heard it:  the sound of the shower.

“Who’s in the shower?” I asked.

Stifling his laughter, but not the shaking of his body, Troy responded “I dunno.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“Oh…I’m not real sure, but I think it might be Amber,” he admitted.

“Huh?” I asked, turning to look at the clock.  “It’s almost 3:30 in the morning.  What’s she doing in the shower?”

“I dunno,” he said not very convincingly.

“What did you do?” I asked.

At this point, Troy isn’t even trying to stifle his laughter.  His quiet body shakes have turned into a full-out body-rolling belly laughs.  Between gasps of laughter, Troy admitted “I might’ve…gone into Amber’s bedroom and…and…and…flipped the light on…and…turned her stereo up really loud…and…and…and…suggested that she was going to be late for school.”

By this point, tears of laughter were streaming down his face and he had completely abandoned all pretense of misunderstanding.  He’d pulled a joke out of retribution and it was paying off way better than he’d imagined.

“Whaaaat?” I asked, finally catching up to his party.

“Go look,” he suggested.

I got up and walked down the hall to Amber’s bedroom.  Sure enough, her bedroom was fully lit, her stereo was turned up far louder than it ought to be for 3:30 in the morning, and there was no Amber in her bed.  I walked across the hall and banged on the bathroom door loud enough to wake the whole house.

“WHAAAAT?” Amber shouted at me from behind the closed door.

“What are you doing?!”  I shouted back.

“WHAT?  I’M SHOWERING!  I’M GONNA BE LATE FOR SCHOOL!  WHAT DO YOU THINK I’M DOING?” she screamed back through the closed door.

“On a Saturday morning at 3:30 a.m.?” I called back.

“What?  WHAT?  WHAAAAATTT?” she yelled back.  And suddenly I heard the water shut off and a soaking wet Amber wrapped in a towel flung the door open.

“What did you say?” she asked almost too quietly.

“I said, ‘Why are you in the shower at 3:30 in the morning on a Saturday?'”

She had no answer and, probably to save face, she chose to give no answer either.  Instead, she very regally with her chin held high and her nose in the air (and something that looked frighteningly like steam piping out of her ears), walked back to her bedroom where she gently closed her door, shut out her lights, turned off the stereo and – presumably – went back to bed.

I won’t lie to you and tell you that she never left a light on in the house again, but I will say that the threat of it happening again worked for a little while at least.  Hmmm…now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps it’s time for a repeat performance.