One night last week, our power went out while we were sleeping. Bud woke up - luckily, he was already in our bed - and he got worried.
"Mama," he said, "I can't see."
I opened my eyes and looked around. We were hours from dawn on what must have been a moonless night, and without the artificial glow from the alarm clocks and nightlights, the bedroom was solid blackness.
"The power went out," I said.
"I can't see," he repeated.
"I know, Bud," I said. "The power went out."
Bud was quiet for a minute, then asked, "Can you fix my eyes?"
My husband reached over to his bedside table, picked up his digital watch, and pressed a button, illuminating its face.
"Its Daddy's watch!" Bud said excitedly.
"That's right, Bud," I said. "Your eyes are fine. It's very dark because the power went out."
We laid in the darkness and tried to go back to sleep, though I'm sure Bud and I both knew that we were awake for the day. As he tossed and turned next to me I thought about his reaction to the darkness: In the absence of information about what was happening, Bud assumed that the challenge he was experiencing was caused by some kind of internal malfunction (his eyes not functioning properly) as opposed to external conditions beyond his control (the power going out).
How often does that happen? How often does he assume that things are difficult because of some failing in him, and not because he is being subjected to overwhelming circumstances or unreasonable expectations?
How often do I assume the same thing about him?
I'll need to pay attention to that. I'll need to remember his response to the power failure. And I'll need to be careful that I'm not undertaking delicate eye surgery when all I really have to do is cast a little light.