By now, you, your grandma, and your long-dead pet hamster have all seen the video of the BBC News broadcast where a professor’s cover gets blown and the world discovers his true identity as a parent who is only pretending to have it all together. Moments after the initial shock of seeing not one, but two children bust in on their dad’s very serious political broadcast without a single care in the world, we are treated to the image of the mother flying into the room like a literal superwoman, desperately trying to minimize the damage by corralling her children out the door using what may have been the least stealthy extraction methods the world has ever seen.
As a parent, I nearly died watching this video. Not from embarassment, but from the absolute hilarity of every single moment. There are so many aspects of this video that make it absolute gold, because it sums up parenthood so perfectly, and in so many ways.
1. Kids do what they want, when they want, despite your best efforts to prevent this.
Ok. The little girl busting into the room in full dance mode while dad tries to keep his cool? Perfection. The video could have stopped here, and it would have been amazing. But, as we all know, it did not. As if this wasn’t enough, only moments later, a tiny infant zooms into the room in his little baby spaceship to drive home the point that, when it rains, it pours. We’ve all been there (especially those of you with two kids). What would be the absolute worst moment for your child to throw a tantrum? To projectile vomit? To fart or burp or burst into laughter or tears? To decide to breakdance or utter a completely inappropriate comment? Well, as any parent can attest, that is the moment when it will happen. Guaranteed. And if you have two children, you can be willing to bet that it will happen x2.
Sure, the dad could have locked the door or gone into the office that day. The mom could have taken the kids to the park, or kept her eyes on them every single second until the broadcast was complete. But that’s not what they did, because that’s not what parents do. Sometimes, moms have to go to the bathroom. Sometimes dads work from home and they don’t lock the door. Sometimes, your kid barfs into the lap of the stranger sitting next to you on the airplane, and sometimes, your child will make a cringe-worthy announcement from the inside of the changeroom at Sears, like when my eight-year-old brother who had just seen Titanic and had no concept of the meaning of what he was about to say, stood on one foot and yelled to my mom, sitting on the other side, “Hey look! I’m a one-legged prostitute!” The only thing you can do in these moments is laugh, and, when you get home later and no-one else is looking, you can cry.
2. Parents try to keep their cool to save face, but are dying inside.
So, your child has just boogied into the room in the middle of your live news broadcast about the dire political circumstances in South Korea. Or maybe you are currently trying to decide whether you should tell your seatmate that there is now vomit in her Louis Vuitton bag or attempt to parachute out the emergency exit instead of facing her wrath. Perhaps your toddler has just learned how to throw a full-on tantrum and is demonstrating his new skills right in the middle of the shopping mall. These are situations that you would never have had to think about responding to before you reproduced, and yet, here you are. At this moment, your options are either to try to play it cool and act like it’s no big deal and you’ve got things under control (and risk being judged for not taking the appropriate action) or to put on your angry face and attempt to discipline the child (and risk being judged for looking like a monster). It’s a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, and (spoiler alert!) no matter what you choose, you lose!
3. No matter how fast you act, it’s already too late.
Bless the soul of the mother bursting through the door faster than Usain Bolt to try to rectify the situation before things got out of control. Too late, mama. The moment the first kid turkey-jived into the room, your parenting skills were already being called into question. Why wasn’t she watching them closer? They could have been in danger! Where was she? Why is that child in a rolling chair? Aren’t those banned in Canada? Did you see the way she pulled her daughter? That child could have been injured! Did you see the way the dad pushed his daughter away? It was as though he didn’t even love her or care for her – he should have stopped the entire interview to tend to her dancing.
Here’s the thing. Kids are unpredictable. You can do everything in your power to make sure that they are safe and doing what you want them to do, where you want them to do it, but the moment you turn your back, they will find any possible way to do the opposite of what you intended. It’s because they don’t know any better and have no reason to believe that you do, either. It’s because they’re curious. It’s because they’re impulsive. It’s because you’re human and you make mistakes despite trying your absolute best.
Whether this means that your child has found an opportunity to unroll every square inch of toilet paper onto your bathroom floor or has managed to make his way into the gorilla cage at the zoo, they will do it and it will be all your fault. Yessssss, I know. Under any reasonable circumstance, a child should not be in the gorilla enclosure at the zoo, but someone has to be that 0.01%. Just thank the Lord it wasn’t you and stop shaming the parent who it was. Please.
And can we just be real for a second? If you were in the middle of a live Skype interview and were, in all likelihood, not wearing any pants (because why would you?) and your kid came busting into the room, would you have done things differently? Would you not have had a moment of internal panic and tried to shoo your kid away and hope they actually might exit the room, leaving you the chance to play it off like it was no big deal? I have a toddler. If I would have picked him up and sat him on my lap (like many people suggested the dad in the video should have), he would either be banging on my computer keys or trying to wriggle out of my arms while simultaneously smacking me in the face in two seconds flat, and that’s all the time it would have taken for all of my credibility to go flying out the window.
4. Working from home while your children are there may just be the most unproductive thing ever.
We have all learned a lesson from News Broadcast Dad. If you’re working from home, lock the door to your office, or, at the very least, wear pants if you are going to attempt to get anything done while the world is watching. Of course, I’m totally speculating on the pants thing, but as you can see, I’m choosing to roll with this theory. But I digress.
My husband attempted to work from home once when our son was too sick to go to daycare and he couldn’t believe how little he was able to accomplish during the day. Apparently, he had been under the illusion that a sick child would not have the energy to cyclone through the house and demand every minute of his attention. This, of course, was not news to me, as I learned this very quickly when I was on maternity leave. If your child naps, then that is your window for productivity. Other than that, forget about it.
5. The only thing you can do is laugh.
As I mentioned before, there will be many times in your life that your child behaves in a way that makes you want to cry. In those moments, it’s best to do the opposite.
There will always be someone to give you the stinky side-eye in the restaurant while your toddler is throwing noodles all over the floor instead of eating them, but the same person will also judge you for giving your child an iPhone in an attempt to entertain him and prevent said noodles from decorating his high chair. That person will probably wonder why you even brought your child out for dinner at all, while not recognizing the fact that you are likely there for the same reason he is – because you are hungry and didn’t want to cook for yourself.
Parents are people who are trying to simultaneously live their own lives, doing some of the things they enjoy and make them feel human while also appearing “together” as they wrangle tiny humans with minds all of their own – minds that don’t have the ability to reason until a particular age (not until at least age two, in case you are wondering). We are people with careers, hobbies, passions and interests. Having a child shouldn’t mean that we are not allowed to go out for dinner or to the mall because our kids might decide to throw a tempter tantrum. And sometimes, it’s not possible to just leave them at home (apparently they aren’t allowed to babysit themselve until at least age 4). Professor Dad shouldn’t have to lock the house down like Fort Knox or banish his wife and children to the third dimension just because his daughter might sashay into the room at the wrong moment. We want to have fun, just like you, We want to grow and succeed, just like you. We make mistakes, just like you. So could you laugh along with us so we feel less like psychopaths when we have no other choice?
So. on behalf of all parents, thank you, wonderful children, for demonstrating the way that kids do whatever the eff they want, when they want, parents be damned. Thank you, Professor Dad, for trying to cover up the fact that you decided to work from home in an effort to spend more time with your family and, as a result, did a live newscast in your basement in your underwear while the rest of your family was probably watching PAW Patrol in the living room, waiting for you to finish up. Thank you, supermom, for busting into the room like your life depended on it, because you probably thought it was safe to take eighteen seconds to leave your kids unattended to go to the bathroom, or grab more Cheerios, or pick up the teddy bear they hurled across the room, or clean up the juice that got spilled on the carpet, or whatever it was you were doing, leaving them the opportunity to do the unthinkable. Thank you, beautiful family, for unintentionally creating the most hilariously perfect illustration of what life is like every day, for all of us. For all of these things, we salute you.