One morning last week I was in my room trying to put Sophie to sleep.
Now, a mother's ears are fine-tuned. She can tell exactly what her children are doing in other rooms just by listening. She knows what it sounds like when the phone is lifted off its cradle. She knows what it sounds like when the microwave door is opened or shut. Same for the refrigerator and freezer. In fact all doors and cupboards in the house have their own unique sound. She knows breaking glass, the different tones of beeps that certain buttons make, the sound of running water....
As I bounced my baby I heard a series of sounds from the living room.
Click, click, click. Click, click, click. (Anna turning on and off the DVD player.)
Bleep, bleep. Bleep, bleep, bleep. (Anna pushing buttons on the air conditioner remote control.)
I poked my head out my bedroom door. "Anna, stop pushing buttons. Do not try to put a movie in by yourself. I'll be right there."
Still, when I came out ten minutes later the air conditioner was blasting hot air. I switched it over to cold again, turned it off, and unplugged it, because we can have either the air conditioner on or the TV, not both.
As I slid the plug for the DVD and TV's power strip into the wall, though, I heard a distinct poompft.
That was the sound of the DVD player blowing a fuse.
Sure enough, it wouldn't turn on. The TV was fine, the DVD player was fried.
"Well," I said, looking at Anna, "I guess we won't be watching TV until we get back to America."
Maybe that was a little cruel, because she looked at me with wide, horrified eyes, as if I had just pulled her beating heart out of her chest with my bare hands.
No TV? You mean, no Barbie movies for three weeks?
As I thought about it more, I felt increasingly upset too. I mean, I don't like to admit it, but there are many slow afternoons when I turn on a movie for Anna and Gabe while Sophie's taking a nap. And I have "mommy time." The fried DVD player meant no more mommy time.
It's been about five days without TV and this is a progress report:
We're doing grrrreat!
Gabe and Anna are taking afternoon naps again instead of sitting like zombies in front of the tube. They've been ornery the last few weeks. Maybe some of it is spring fever, but probably mostly they're dealing with transition stuff and the naps are good for them.
When they get up from naps, we've been playing games: war, memory, and a weird card game that's not really a game. It's more like passing cards around the circle; it has no point and no winner, but the kids love it.
Anna's playing dress up and blocks in the morning instead of hounding me to watch movies. Since the movies aren't an option, she's stopped bugging.
Of course, we can still watch an occasional special movie on Aaron's Macbook if we need to. But I have to admit, I'm enjoying a quieter house.
I think the death of the DVD player might turn out to be the key to a smoother transition. Which reminds me, I'd better get back to packing.