Friday night is Pizza-Video night. It has been for years, since my son was about 5 years old. That's five steady years of routine, rarely wavering. It can safely now be called a Ritual.
The pizza has changed over the years. First we started with pizza from a restaurant, then moved to a cheaper, fast-food version. Now it's home-made gluten-free vegetarian! (Unless it's a Friday after writers workshop, when we seem to fall back to fast-food pizza again—I know, so pitiful)
The kids' movie tastes have changed too. The kids chose Pokemon videos for years, which I rarely watched. While the movie played I'd often be fiddling about with something, or cleaning the kitchen, or reading. Often my husband was out performing, or at a concert he'd organised, so while the kids loved their movie night, it wasn't always together time.
But now it is. Now, almost every Pizza-Video night, we sit down as a family, and eat and watch. It has become a very special part of the week.
Perhaps it's special because the kids literally do not watch tv at any other time. Neither do the grown-ups! It must seem unbelievable, I know. The thing is, we moved the tv out of the living room when we turned it into a learning area. And the only place it could be put was tucked beside a couch, and the antenna cord couldn't reach. (I know we could buy the technology to make us antenna-free, but we can't be bothered). We haven't watched a regular program in eight months.
Every now and then, my husband and I pull the tv cabinet out on its little casters and watch a dvd, so we don't miss out completely. As for the kids, they never ask to watch. They really, truly don't. It doesn't occur to any of us to watch, or suggest watching. We have Fridays, after all.
On Fridays, on this one special night, we pull the tv out. We sit on the couches with pizza on our laps. The dog lies at our feet and the cat goes kind of nuts, jumping from couch to window ledge to couch to tv to couch to window ledge (you get the picture).
The kids and I watch the movie, and my husband eventually falls asleep with his head leaned back, his mouth open. We always point at him and laugh. Kindly, because it's what he always does, and we love him for it.
But tonight was a little different. For one, we stayed awake, all of us.
We had chosen an Eddie Murphy movie. I had suggested the kids watch something new, instead of Kung Fu Panda for the thousandth time. There were doubts, and my husband said, "Time for my movie nap!" But for whatever reason, we were all hooked. All four of us watched every minute.
The movie wasn't particularly special. It followed an old formula, and Eddie Murphy was funny but I wouldn't say it was his finest film, or that I'd watch it again.
But there was a connection between a father and his daughter that resonated with me, and with my husband. And I have to confess: It made us cry.
At one point, Eddie Murphy's daughter won't let go of his hand and he curls up next to her while she falls asleep. It seemed so much like our life, when our kids were small, and even today. They still need us and love us and don't want to let us go at night. It made my heart creak with recognition, and I teared up.
When I looked over at my husband, not only was he awake, but he was leaking too. Awake and crying! When I pointed it out to the kids, they were delighted. Even funnier than Daddy sleeping, is Daddy crying over a kid's movie.
But the kicker came later, near the end of the movie.
Eddie races to his daughter's recital, having had an epiphany about his love for her and his role as her father. He dresses up like a Prince, and comes to his daughter's rescue, bursting into the room just as she feels the most lost. Well, I lost it. I totally started crying. I looked over, and my husband had lost it too. Both of us total, weeping saps, completely in love with the notion of a parent prepared to do anything for his child.
Yeah, we are hopeless.
And yeah, I agree absolutely that we are behind the times.
And yeah, of course we were taken in by the Hollywood machine!
And yeah, we totally look like a throwback to the Perfect, sugar-coated 50's Family.
But in this one moment, this together moment, where two grown-ups love being a family so much we weep, and two children are so delighted it makes the air tremble, I really don't mind at all.
our tucked-away tv,
waiting for next Friday…