When family life bursts in on work life

Family prevails. And the video of it goes viral.
Sorry if you’ve seen this dozens and dozens of times. I posted it on my personal Facebook page as soon as I saw it last week, and stopped laughing long enough to “share” and add a personal note. Since then, so many media folks with a big following in social media have shared it as well, adding their personal comments to the tweet or post or other commentary, it’s grown into a phenomenon of the moment. And one with a message.

Mollie Hemingway does the best job of capturing what happened here.

The setup:

This morning the BBC interviewed Dr. Robert Kelly, an associate professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan National University in South Korea. The topic of the interview — the impeachment of Korean President Park Geun-hye — was interesting. But Kelly’s children stole the show.

It has to be watched first, then read about. Hemingway’s Federalist piece puts our universally shared reaction to this spontaneous moment in context.

She lists the 8 (updated from 7 initial) best things about the children taking all the attention from Dad during his BBC interview. There was a ‘marching toddler’ and a ‘rolling baby’, and viewers had their favorites. One tweeted

Enter every room like the kid who interrupts the BBC Skype interview.

Another

Y’all, the baby rolling in got me crying.

I actually laughed to that point of tears. Hearty, knowing, laughter.

Here’s another happy tweet

I legit can’t stop watching this.

Then there’s the mom who realizes what’s happening in real time, and she comes tearing around the doorway into the room, ducking to avoid the camera (or so she thinks) and grab the kids, and we can’t help but laugh with them, to the point of tears.

Mollie Hemingway and her husband frequently do media interviews and manage their family life at the same time.

By the time the mom rushes into the room, realizing the kids have gone rogue during their dad’s very important interview, the comedic value is unquestioned. She goes low — and speaking as someone who does these types of interviews and who is married to someone who does Skype interviews, I can assure you this is a natural instinct.

…having been interrupted by the chaos of life while on air, I know how stressful it is for children to enter the scene. I have never handled it as well as this guy, who keeps his composure as he tries to signal to his toddler to get out of the room. But he’s also totally laughing it off.

Which is refreshing, when we see the utter humanity of happy family chaos break in on structured, managed and reasonably controlled circumstances.

Television is so well-produced that we rarely see real life interrupt our broadcasts. When the toddler walks in, the interviewer is forced to acknowledge this, breaking down the wall we normally preserve between work and home life.

Or at least the perception of it. When one lives in their office and works in their home, this can happen. For all of us who do that, this provided huge comic relief.

The Wall Street Journal was among the major world media whose follow up coverage outdid the initial intended interview.

The buzz has even overshadowed the major news Mr. Kelly was on air to discuss: the impeachment of South Korea’s president.

“It’s a comedy of errors,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

He also said he and his wife “immediately feared the worst, assuming that he wouldn’t be contacted again to appear on TV.” This is easy to picture:

“We said to each other, ‘Wow, what just happened?’ ” Mr. Kelly, said, adding the blame was entirely on him for not locking the door….

“I made this minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars. It’s pretty ridiculous,” he said.

That’s right.

He immediately wrote to the BBC to apologize, but within 15 minutes the broadcaster asked if it could put a clip of the interview on the internet. The couple initially declined, feeling uncomfortable that people might laugh at their children. But they were eventually persuaded that the video would show they were just a regular family.

Within a couple of hours, it became clear to them that the video would disrupt their lives…

Yes, that’s because it “had been viewed over 84 million times on the BBC Facebook page as of Tuesday morning U.S. time. It has been covered by media from Uruguay to Nigeria to Australia, and dissected in thousands of news articles and social media posts around the world. Many have expressed warm feelings toward the family…”

Proving that this brief sequence of events in the life of a family doing what they do in their routine at home, spontaneous chaos and all, brought us together in ways punditry and social science brilliance never could.

Watch both videos, the one on The Federalist site, and aftermath family discussion with the Wall Street Journal here. They’re so human, so endearing.

Mr. Kelly describes his reaction (to the initial disruption) as a mixture of surprise, embarrassment and amusement but also love and affection. The couple says they weren’t mad and didn’t scold the children. “I mean it was terribly cute,” Mr. Kelly said. “I saw the video like everybody else. My wife did a great job cleaning up a really unanticipated situation as best she possibly could… It was funny. If you watch the tape I was sort of struggling to keep my own laughs down. They’re little kids and that’s how things are.”

The otherwise cool, calm, collected Dad laughs and says “This is my life, man!”

This is a life more of us can relate to, exactly, as we ‘do media’ in setting where family, or pets, or neighbors pets or lawn mowers or snowblowers just outside the door or window can cause significant distraction or interruption.

But that’s what made this more than another foreign affairs interview on a global network covering so many stories of the moment, we can’t keep up so most people don’t even try. This interview was supposed to be about the impeachment of South Korea’s president. But wound up in the Wall Street Journal as this: “When the Children Crash Dad’s BBC Interview: The Family Speaks”.

And that’s what the world needs to hear. And see.

When a man in a woman’s restroom is finally seen as wrong

And a proudly progressive mom calls for a reality check.

After opening the blog post she felt necessary to write by saying that she was reluctant to write it, as a tolerant person who would likely be labeled and derided as intolerant, ‘The Get Real Mom’ stated clearly: “This is a story about a biological man in the women’s restroom.”

Innate sensibility prevailed when a startled young mother was disturbed enough by her own experience at a Disneyland women’s restroom when a man walked in, and stayed, while women and children nervously looked for someone to say or do something. But…not…them.

First, she felt the need to establish liberal bona fides.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for over a decade and have seen my fair share of transgender/gender fluid people. They in no way offend me. I’d consider myself pretty progressive and tolerant of most things…how transgender people feel, how they choose to dress or any surgeries they get, don’t infringe on any parts of my life, so I support their decision to live as they see fit. I’ve also seen my fair share of transgender women in the women’s restroom before. Not ALL the time. But over the past few years, I’d say 4-5 that I noticed. Men…who were in some stage of transition and making every attempt to be a woman from mascara to heels. Transgenders who certainly felt comfortable in the women’s room and probably frightened to go into the men’s. At these times, I smiled…I peed…and life went on. But 2 weeks ago something very different happened.

She and her friend took their young sons to the park for an outing, stopped for lunch and headed for the women’s restroom before the next adventure. They took turns, each watching the children for the other.

I was off to the side waiting with the two boys, when I noticed a man walk into the restroom…He took a few more steps, at which point he would’ve definitely noticed all the women lined up and still kept walking. My next thought was, “Maybe he’s looking for his wife…or child and they’ve been in here a while.” But he didn’t call out any names or look around. He just stood off to the side and leaned up against the wall. At this point I’m like, “…Am I the only one seeing this?” I surveyed the room and saw roughly 12 women, children in tow…staring at him with the exact same look on their faces. Everyone was visibly uncomfortable. We were all trading looks and motioning our eyes over to him…like “what is he doing in here?” Yet every single one of us was silent. And this is the reason I wrote this blog.

Somebody has to be willing to speak up, and they were all afraid. She realized that reality, as one who had been among the unwilling to be considered judgmental, or to call any behavior or boundary crossing wrong. Until clearly it was.

We had been culturally bullied into silenced. Women were mid-changing their baby’s diapers on the changing tables and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did. Every woman who exited a stall and immediately zeroed right in on him…said nothing. And why? B/c I…and I’m sure all the others were scared of that “what if”. What if I say something and he says he “identifies as a woman” and then I come off as the intolerant ass… at the happiest place on earth? So we all stood there, shifting in our uncomfortableness…trading looks. I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me outloud, “What is he doing in here?” I’m ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, “I don’t know.” She immediately walked out…from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear.

This was more than a dawning awareness. It was sudden. “I’m ashamed to admit I silently shrugged…” shows the revelation this woman had in that moment that ‘the culture’ has ‘bullied us into silence’, but we still have our sensibilities, and they come alive in a moment when visceral reaction tells us what’s wrong is wrong, no matter what anybody calls it.

And let me be clear, my problem wasn’t JUST that there was a man in the restroom. Its that he wasn’t even peeing, washing his hands or doing anything else that you’d do in a restroom. He was just standing off to the side looking smug…untouchable… doing absolutely nothing. He had to of noticed that every woman in the long line was staring at him. He didn’t care. He then did a lap around the restroom walking by all the stalls. You know, the stalls that have 1 inch gaps by all the doors hinges so you can most definitely see everyone…

So yes… there were women and small children using the restroom and this man was walking around knowing no one would say anything.  So here I am…writing this blog, because honestly I need answers. We can’t leave this situation ambiguous any more. The gender debate needs to be addressed… and quickly. There have to be guidelines. It can’t just be a feeling… this notion that we’re shamed into silence b/c we might offend someone, has gone too far.

There are answers. People, experts and organizations and rights groups, have been engaging this debate for a long time, and she’s right in calling out those who have been trying to bully them and everyone into silence about saying what is true and right and good, and what is wrong.

There was a man who felt entitled to be in the woman restroom, because he knew no one would say anything. There were 20-25 people by the time I left, who were scared and uncomfortable by his ominous presence. And the only thing stopping us, was our fear of political correctness and that the media has told us we don’t know what gender is anymore. I never want to be in the position again. Im not asking for permission to tell transgender people to get out my bathroom. I need to know it’s ok to tell a man, who looks like a man, to get…out. Gender just can’t be a feeling. There has to be science to it. DNA, genitals, amount of Sephora make up on your face, pick your poison, but as a very progressive woman…I’m sorry it can’t just be a feeling when theres but a mere suggestion of a door with a peep hole separating your eyes from my…or my children’s genitals.

There is science to it. Here’s an exceptionally good and thorough report in The New Atlantis for anyone who didn’t encounter it before, and is willing to now, like ‘The Get Real Mom’. We don’t need to listen to or obey the media, or the culture, or prevailing forces in politically driven movements. We don’t need permission to tell a man hanging out in the women’s room to leave. It’s not about feelings. It’s about human truths and dignity, and the courage to stand for them.