Press Pause (And If You Forget Please Press Rewind!!!)

I have a confession to make.

I was alive when cassette tapes were cool.

New Edition, Bobby Brown, LL Cool J, Guy, Bell Biv Devoe, Guy, Heavy D and more.

You’d go to the record store to pick up the brand new tape of your favorite artist, pop it in your car stereo cassette deck or snap it into your Sony Walkman (With EXTRA BASS!) to listen to scorching hot new music.

And if you didn’t have the cash to buy it from the store, you could grab a set of blanks and dub it from someone who did.

Dubbing was fine art.

You had to make sure sure the tapes were synced right, rewound tight, and ready to roll.

You had to hit play and record perfectly.

You had to watch carefully to make sure tape didn’t twist, turn, or jam.

A twisted tape was the absolute worst.

To fix a twisted tape you had to use a pen, a pencil, or even your little pinky finger.

And if all your friends were broke like you, you could record it straight from the radio.

Radio dubs were even more treacherous.

In that case, PAUSE was as important than record.

You didn’t want commercials, or the station DJ’s voice on the track.

To do it right, you had to learn to be a Picasso of playing the cassette keys named, “ PLAY, PAUSE, RECORD, STOP, FAST FORWARD, & REWIND.”

It wasn’t until many years later after the cassette tape became a technological dinosaur like 8 Tracks, VCR tapes, Beta Max, and 45 record adapters I learned that PLAY, PAUSE, & REWIND can be used in real life.

My second daughter came to me with a request to hang with her friends a few summers ago.

They were going to eat, shop, and go to the movies.

She would be gone all Saturday.

It was late Friday night.

I looked in the kitchen.

Dishes were piled in the sink and things were a mess.

It was her responsibility to keep the kitchen clean this week.

Me: “Hey, there is no way you are going anywhere without doing your chores.”

Her: “I know.”

Me: “What time are you planning on leaving?”

Her: “About 9:00 am”

Me: “That’s early.”

Her: “Yeah.”

Me: “You think you can get everything done tomorrow by 9:00 am?”

Her: “Yeah.”

Me: “You should probably handle it tonight. Because there is no way you are going anywhere without your work being done.”

Her: “Dad. I am really tired. Been doing tons of homework. I plan to go to bed and do everything in the morning.”

Me: “In the morning?”

Her: “Yes. Can I do that?”

I hesitate, giving her my stern strong super dad gaze.

Me: “Okay. But your work better be done.”

* Next Day (8:30 am)

I march downstairs.

I can hear her rustling around in her room getting ready to kick it with the girls.

I look at my watch.

30 minutes.

No way she gets this work done in time to leave at 9:00 am.

No way.

I get in a strong dad type stance.

Feet about shoulder width apart, hands loosely clenched, chest forward.

I called her name (*name not included because I don’t want to be required to pay royalties!).

I even added a little bass tom voice to make sure that she knew I meant business.

I wanted her to feel the fatherly authority emanating from her powerful patriarch.

Me: “Daughter!”

Her: “Yes Dad?”

Me: “Are you getting ready to hang with your friends?”

Her: “Yes Dad.”

Me: “What did I tell you had to do to be able to leave this house?”

Her: “I had to do my chores.”

Me: “That’s right. Get your chores done and take care of this kitchen!”

Her: “Yes, Dad.”

Me: “When I ask you to do something, I expect it to be done.”

Her: “Yes.”

Me: “You do know I wasn’t playing right?”

Her: “Yes. Well I did it. Dad, I got up super early and took care of everything.”

I was just about to launch into a sitcom worthy fatherly monologue about responsibility, hard work, and respect. I think I even had my index finger extended to provide more emphasis.

Me: “You did what?”

Her: “I got up super early and took care of everything. I made sure I cleaned the kitchen too.”

Me: “You did? You cleaned the kitchen?!?

Her: “Yes.”

I stared at her for a beat.

I took two steps to my right and looked into the kitchen.

Not just “the” kitchen in question, but a sparkling clean kitchen.

It looked so good it was almost gleaming.

I turned back to my daughter and with arms crossed I glared at her.

Me: “Humph.”

She just stared back with those beautiful brown almond eyes.

Me: “Well! Looks like you cleaned the kitchen! Just Like I said!”

She still stared. But now she fought back a small smirk that tugged at her face.

Me: “Well…looks like you even did a good job!”

I am still trying to maintain my cool fatherly veneer.

But I am losing steam.


And she knows it.

She nods her head and looks at the ground, not wanting me to see the smirk that is now plastered all over her pretty face.

Actually it’s not even a smirk anymore.

It’s a full grin.

I blurt out with the little fatherly sitcom authority I have left…

Me: “Well…looks like your father was…uh…wrong! And…he owes you and apology. Daddy is sorry. I should have taken the time to check. Sheesh.”

After giving her a hug, she glides back upstairs to finish her “look.”


I got it 100% wrong.

I missed it because I didn't take two seconds to check to see if she actually did what I said.

I had a preconceived notion mixed with a head packed with assumptions that led me in the wrong direction.

How often do we rush to judgment without examining the evidence so we can get things right?

Too busy, too distracted, too sure that we already know the story.

Then BAM!

Everything gets messed up.

So focused on fast forward that we forget to press pause.

It’s even worse when get it wrong and don’t have the humility to push rewind and make it right.

Slow down and press pause.

But when you forget, at least remember to rewind the track and fix the tape.

It can make all the difference.

Julian NewmanComment