After my kids found TikTok a few years ago, they all wanted some LED lights for their room. It’s a very common decoration on the app; spend much time scrolling and you’ll see many, many Gen Z bedrooms with this specific type of colorful lights strung across the ceiling. They showed me picture upon picture of all the different colors you could get and begged: “Everyone has some! Can we get some?”
I want to be completely honest here and tell you I wasn’t into the vibrant purples, electric blues, and eye-crossing greens they picked out. I am a very dull, neutral person, and I prefer white, black, or tan. Too many colors in one room hurts my eyes. But alas, I realize my kids’ rooms are theirs, not mine, and I lost the battle of decorating their rooms years ago.
The only research I did on these life-ruining LED lights was to look at the price and how they worked. They seemed easy enough to figure out, and they weren’t expensive, so I got them some for their rooms. They sell them everywhere — Amazon, Wish, Target, and Walmart — so I knew if we got some and they didn’t work properly, we could easily get some more. (That’s something we seasoned parents learn to do before they purchase because we all know the hell of a kid getting something that doesn’t work.)
When they arrived, my kids put them up immediately. They figured out how to use the remote control to turn them on and worked together to hang them up in their rooms.
They taped the lights all over their walls and along the baseboards and they even strung them across their ceilings, ensuring I’d never be able to sleep again. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that even with their bedroom door closed, the light those suckers give out is like no other. It is always twilight in my home.
My kids loved those lights so much that they decided they needed some in their bathroom. And in our basement. I let them have it. After all, they were cheap, it made them happy, and they worked together to get them just where they wanted them. I could wear sunglasses 24/7 for the harmony and fun it brought to my lovely children.
Until the same lovely children decided it was a good idea to “move the lights around” while they “redecorated their rooms, bathroom, and basement,” and I discovered the horrible downside of these lights: I’m not kidding when I say I came home one day to paint peeling off the walls and damaged sheetrock. I knew I didn’t like them as soon as I saw them for a reason. I’m not sure what’s used on the back of those babies, but — while it’s great they stayed in place — I’m pretty sure one strip could lift a fifty-pound weight off the ground.
My kids were scared and worried (rightfully) about what my reaction would be when I saw that half of the rooms in our home were ruined. I tried to touch up the paint but it didn’t work. I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I told them they could never have LED lights ever again and I had no idea what I was going to do, then I fell very dramatically into bed.
It took me a year to fix the walls and ceilings in my house properly, because every time I saw the naked strips of torn-up sheetrock, I’d fall apart.
Now that I’ve completed the daunting task of putting a skim coat, primer, and paint in their rooms and bathroom — I still have the basement to do, but I might just leave it for the memories — I feel it’s my duty to warn the parents of the world out there about these LED lights that look like strips of tape but can cause more damage than a new puppy in your home. Do yourself a solid and stick to fairy lights or something else that won’t force you to use all your vacation time redoing your home when your kids get sick of them or want to move them around.
And if you have already given your kids the okay and they have them taped about your house well, I recommend stocking up on sunglasses and leaving them there forever.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.
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