A child’s enlightening lesson from inside the fridge

When life gives us moments of pure joy, they are best cherished and remembered.

Here’s one of mine, circa 1997 — the day my three sons tried to figure out how the light bulb inside the refrigerator “knew” when to turn on and off.

The lesson provided the kind of happy mayhem only possible in a kitchen occupied by four boys ages 4, 6, 8 and 39.

I don’t recall what prompted the refrigerator bulb lesson. Perhaps it was another of my less-than-stellar attempts at making dinner. Seventeen years later, I smile when I think of that day and laugh when I tell anyone about it.

Tasked with solving the mystery, the boys tried all kinds of strategies. They jerked the door open quickly, opened it oh-so-slowly, moved items around inside the fridge, fiddled with the temperature knob, etc.

I think each boy took a turn slowly opening and closing the door with his face pressed up against the squishy rubber seal, trying to determine the source of this magic force. They’re stubborn Irishmen, so this went on for a while.

The other day I asked my sons (now 25, 23 and 21) what, if anything, they recall about that significant moment from their childhood.

Their responses: “Hoo boy, no clue on that one I’m afraid” (middle child) . . . “Wait, the light in the fridge goes off when you shut the door?” (wise guy at 21) and “the conclusion was finding the little switch . . . and realizing you could push it down by hand with the door open to darken the fridge.” (oldest)

That realization came when I finally showed the boys the tiny push-button switch and how it worked. They weren’t far from wanting to dismantle the fridge to solve the mystery, and I was laughing so hard my stomach couldn’t take any more.

There was some disappointment in their faces, but I like to think the lesson stoked my sons’ curiosity and fired up their critical-thinking neurons for the future. It certainly gave me a long-lasting happy memory as a dad. Pure joy indeed.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Children, family, Irish Investigations, role models and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A child’s enlightening lesson from inside the fridge

  1. Funny memories to have. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  2. markbialczak says:

    Precious, Jim, and just-a-little-evil on your part for sending them after the truth of life stuck inside that refrigerator. However, surely, it was a lesson well learned about looking past the obvious.

    Next up, where does the water end up that goes down your drain? I still haven’t figured that one out, really.


  3. ermigal says:

    Wonderful story, well told. I could picture all this going on in your kitchen. Thanks for sharing this sweet memory. 🙂


  4. Coop says:

    How about the thermos bottle? How does it know how to keep hot things hot OR cold things cold. Same bottle! One of life’s mysteries…


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