Can’t we just pause it?

We’ve instituted a Friday night movie night custom in our house and it’s been in place now for a couple of months. The girls really look forward to being able to choose a movie and enjoy Liam’s homemade popcorn, especially when Mommy throws in some surprise M&Ms at the bottom of the bowl.

The oldest, ever like her mother, insists on not wanting to miss out on anything. She’s learned that there is a pause function on the TV and so she regularly demands we pause the movie when she needs to break for the bathroom or retrieve random objects she believes she requires during the middle of the film, such as slippers, barrettes, or cloth napkins, which double not only as hand cleaners, but also blankets for baby dolls.

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She’s also learned how to program the pause button on her CD player. She may be dancing to tunes in the living room and have to pee, so she’ll run across to the player, hit pause, dash to the bathroom, and then resume playing, singing, and dancing when she returns.

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Just last week I was enjoying watching her, without her really being aware of my presence, as she set up several stuffed animal friends on the dining room table edge. She then proceeded to put on a dancing show for them in the kitchen. This involved lots of spinning and expressive arm movements, and humming and singing, of course.

In the middle of her charade, I observed her doing a kind of pee-pee dance, as we call it around here, and then watched as she ran over to her furry friends, pressed an imaginary button, complete with her own clicking noise, and then said, “Hold on, guys. Your teacher is going to pause the show. I will be right back, so don’t go away.” Then she made me promise not to let her younger sister interfere with the friends or the show in her absence.

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This past Saturday I had plans to take the girls, my sister, and my niece to the local theater to see a family production of Cinderella. As our luck would have it though, the oldest woke up with tummy troubles, yet again, early that morning. I confess, it might have had something to do with the fact that the night before, we had fried fish sandwiches and French fries for dinner. Though her stomach had been good for days, her appetite hadn’t really returned until that point. And, up until then, she’d had some pretty safe and bland foods. I wasn’t really expecting her to eat much of the food, but she dug right in, and showed no signs of wanting to nibble politely as she had done for days before. Instead, she was like a famished runaway orphan, seizing the opportunity of a hot meal as though she didn’t know when she’d be able to eat ever again.

So, yesterday morning she woke up, puked once, and then proceeded to have diarrhea (What is it about this word, by the way, that is so supremely distasteful? Ugh!) off and on for the next several hours. Mom of the year, here, I tell you.

I explained to her that we might not be able to go to the show because her tummy was upset. I told her that we wouldn’t want to have to keep going to the potty and getting up from our seats. She thought about this for a second and then said, “But can’t we just pause it?”

I laughed out loud and explained that the show was not a movie, but a play. There would be real people on stage acting out the story, and other people in the audience would be watching, so we wouldn’t be able to actually pause the show. She looked very disappointed, and slightly confused, as I explained all of this and she contemplated what it meant.

In the end, we did go to the show. We only had to use the bathroom one time, more than halfway through the play. We could hear music and faint voices from our stall in the restroom. She wondered aloud about what part we were missing and I gave her the play-by-play as best I could, that the prince had just met Cinderella at the ball, and they were likely dancing and falling in love. 

We made it back to our seats and finished the show without any other incidents, unless you consider her asking right at the end, as the cast lined up, in an extremely loud voice, whether or not she could talk to Cinderella because she had some questions to ask her. 

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Then, in the middle of eating a meal together this evening, the oldest needed to go to the bathroom, yet again (thankfully, it seems the tummy troubles are behind us). As my husband was getting ready to put a forkful of pasta into his mouth, she asked if he could pause dinner. Of course, to her delight, he humored her and froze his fork in midair, while she ran to the bathroom with a big smile on her face. When she was out of sight, my husband continued eating and I just looked at him smiling and shaking my head.

If only pausing on demand were so easy for the rest of us. I’d invoke that power all the time. Maybe the next time the girls get into a heated argument about something I’ll just scream, “Pause, please!” at the top of my lungs, and see what happens. Seems like it might be worth a try. 

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