Belly ButtOn and Off

Button, button, who’s got the button?

It was one of those short quick bursts of laughter that gave her the hiccups. The laughter caught her off guard. The hiccups did the same. This caused both me and my wife to start to giggle—admittedly it was more me than my wife. All I could do was watch as my sixteen-year-old daughter was caught in a combination of barely controlled laughter and hiccups. The one creating more of the other.

This was two weeks ago.

Long ago I sat at the breakfast table and read from panel to panel about a penguin who unscrewed his belly button. The result was that his butt fell off. The realization to him of how his belly button was not only a screw but also was the one thing that kept his butt in check was shocking to him, and hilarious to me. I couldn’t get that visual out of my mind for years. To this day, once in a while, I think of that and just laugh to myself. It’s a stupid joke, I know, but it’s still funny to me.

Opus the Penguin (Opus T. Penguin) is a fictional character created by artist Berkeley Breathed.

This is only relevant because of the button. The bellybutton.

Like many families (I’m sure), my cute little group of peoples (wife, children, and me), have come up with some wonderful terms and inside jokes. We have ‘nurnals’ (baby turtles—specifically of the ninja variety). There’s ‘narbles’. Those would be simply marbles. Tucklings and tumble-drys (which will be discussed at a later date). And, so much more. The one I wish to reflect upon today is the ‘Hiccup Reset Button’.

It was getting late. The children had all been properly tuckled, sung at, and kissed goodnight. Unfortunately, there was an unplanned—but not fully unexpected—side effect of one of those tucklings (it had happened before): Hiccups. Yeah, it seems that the diaphragm of one of my children had become knocked out of rhythm and was now doing whatever it wanted to do. There she lay… tired… sleepy… kinda giggly… but, very hiccupy. And now, slightly agitated due to the fact that she couldn’t just go to sleep. She was hiccuping—thanks to dad (that’s me).

As she lay there, her eyes pleading at me to fix what I had done, I tried to console her that all would be well if she just gave it a moment. She didn’t want to. She wanted it fixed. Now. Fine.

“How about you use your Reset Button?”

“My what?”

Clearly, nobody had discussed with my daughter the Reset Button. No problem, I would do it.

“You know where your belly button is right?”

“Yeah…” The subtle developing confusion was becoming clear in my adolescent’s ocular orbs.

“That’s your Rest Button.”

“Dad, that’s my belly button. Not a Reset Button.” She didn’t believe me. This is mildly understandable considering that for years I had been telling my children that if they unscrewed their belly button their butt would fall off. My fault.

“Just give it a try. Just push it like a button.” Here I was trying to direct my daughter on how to fix her hiccups through audio and visual direction while I talked and demonstrated on myself. She still appeared doubtful.

The hiccups were not subsiding and she was not getting any happier—go figure… Eventually, she tried it. She pressed her Rest Button. Nothing.

“Well, you gotta press a little harder, sweetie.”

At this, she jabbed herself with her index finger, “OW!”

“Not stab yourself… Just gently press. Can I show you?” At this point ten minutes had almost gone by, she was tired and annoyed and just wanted it all to be over. So, I placed my right hand on her small shoulder to comfort her, and with my left index finger gently pressed on her belly button. One second… Two seconds… Three seconds… Release. “How’s that?”

“They’re gone!” She was all smiles.

“Told ya.” So was I.

Over the next couple of years whenever my youngest would get the hiccups I would press her Reset Button. Eventually, she figured out how to press it just right to get the hiccups to stop.

It still works.

The belly button serves many a purpose.
Or, so it seems.

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