Daylight savings time and my three sons at home: the exception, futile, and outdated

Daylight savings time doesn't get much spring out of the oldest, is seen as an exception to the middle boy, and an archaic mechanism made redundant by electricity.

PR Newswire / Torneau
When is daylight savings time? March 10, 2013. Make sure to spring forward your clocks by an hour. The storefront at Torneau in New York, one of the largest watch retailers in the world.

When you raise kids to be smart, you often end up taking all the tests. That’s what happened last night when I tried to explain daylight saving time (DST) to my youngest son and suddenly found myself in the middle of a heated debate as my teens argued the necessity, effectiveness, linguistics, and the fact that there’s actually no rule or law making it mandatory.

Gone are the days when my first son thought saving daylight meant putting it in a piggy bank to use as a night light and that “Spring ahead; Fall back,” was all about jumping on the furniture for half the year.

My son Avery, 14, pointed out “It’s not a law either. Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all leave their clocks alone.”

Then my son Ian, 17, went on a rant about the futility and arrogance of believing we can control the seasons. FYI: Ian hates to get up in the morning and has a room entirely decorated with dozens of clocks of every size and style with their only common thread being that time has permanently stopped for them – they are all broken. He collects broken clocks as, I think, a protest against being ruled by them.

Quin, 9, with Aspergers has a terrible time cottoning-on to metaphor, analogy, and rhetorical speech so the entire DTS concept is a science-only prospect for him. Explaining to Quin means we forget the cutsie and go straight to Google for history, math, and scientific explanations.

“So the hour isn’t actually ‘lost’ right,” Quin pressed. “The hour’s there, we’re just pretending it’s not the correct time?” We were all forced to agree with this assessment.

Quin read and thought and came back to the raging, argument-filled dining room where his elders were getting all existential on the issues of time and bending reality to social convenience. He held two ringers in the air — the universal grade school symbol for silence — and got not quarter. Finally he resorted to our household favorite from the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, knocking “Shave and a haircut” and waiting for his brothers to give in to the impossible urge to sing “Two bits!”

“Come read what I found on the Internet,” he commanded. Here’s what he found at

“During the First World War, Germany instituted a daylight saving program to save power. They ordered everyone to set their clocks ahead by one hour, or one hour ahead of standard Sun time. Doing this made it so that it was light longer into the evening, saving their country energy in the form of electricity. In 1918 the United States began a similar policy. Today, most countries around the world observe Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time usually begins in April and ends in October in the Northern Hemisphere, after which clocks are set back to standard Sun time.”

Quin looked at us with the look of one who has just solved the riddle of the Sphynx. “It was invented to save electricity. So all we need to do is use less during the day and play our Gameboys in the dark at night and Wha-bam! We can skip all this.”

It was about an hour later that he began hinting around that, “Ya know, Mom, there’s such a thing as an Atomic Clock. I really wouldn’t mind having one of those so see what time it is inside an atom.”

As Daffy Duck often said to Porky Pig, “More briefing? I think so.”

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On the way to school this morning Quin pointed to the dashboard clock (still unchanged from last year’s Spring ahead) and matter-o-factly said, “Well at least we can stop doing the math on this clock after Sunday.”

I have the feeling that I’m really not going to miss that hour because it’s one less that I have to spend explaining the loopy things adults do to a child who has a mind that’s all logic.

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