If you have access to the Internet, then there’s no way you could have missed the video that is currently going viral.
It starts off well enough. Political Science expert Professor Robert E. Kelly of Pusan University, South Korea, is being interviewed by the BBC via Skype about the South Korea impeachment scandal.
He looks distinguished and speaks confidently as befit his title… for all of a couple of seconds before a tiny, happy interloper in a bright yellow top comes grooving into his home office.
Enter child number one.
Professor Kelly obviously has no idea that his interview has been rudely (but oh-so cutely) interrupted by his merry little girl until pointed out by the interviewer.
Then, the good professor, rightly flustered, gently pushes his daughter back without making eye contact (and we’ll discuss the significance of this later), and, apologising profusely, valiantly attempts to resume the discussion.
Little Miss Sunshine, nonchalantly appears to munch on a pen while settling down to watch her daddy.
But wait… what and who is that in the background? Enter child number two who comes rolling in after big sister in a big, squeaky walker, maneuvering the bulky contraption like a little boss.
The professor is even more flustered now and attempts to smile (or grimace). And it looks like the end of the interview is near until Ninja Mum throws herself in the room with the agility of a, well, yoga instructor, and saves the day. (But of course, that’s what us mums do, right?)
Jung-a Kim, a Yoga instructor and the professor’s wife, expertly collects the little disrupters as only a mother can. She herds them out, squealing their protest, in a matter of seconds.
After getting them out the room, allowing her husband to carry on with his interview, she lunges back in and closes the door.
End of the most hilarious video of the year so far.
But is it all fun and games?
It’s true – I could not stop laughing and watching re-runs of the video. I’m sure most of you reading this have done the same too. But once I wiped away my tears of mirth, it occurred to me that this video cleverly opened the can of worms that is parenting these days.
The collective judgement passed on both Kelly and Kim was quite harsh, to say the least. Dad was accused of not interacting with his children, of being cold, of pushing his older child back without even a glance at her. Mum too was accused of roughly dragging and pushing her kids out of the room.
When it comes to mum, let me just say that only a mother is capable of that firm-gentle force that is absolutely essential to get kids out of tough spots. She did what she had to do and she did it well.
As for dad, the accusers seem to have forgotten one extremely important thing: Kelly is working (like others do in regular offices). He is in the middle of a live interview.
Yes it’s true that his daughter is absolutely adorable. In fact, her confidence and level of comfort with being in that space show that she’s there often, probably pestering her dad for paper and pens to scribble on while he works.
But in this case, her father was discussing a matter of global importance. Going by the level of detail in the room (the books neatly arranged on the bed, the map of the wall), this interview meant a lot to Professor Kelly and he probably prepared for it intensely.
So given all this, his brain would have been screaming No way, not now!! when little miss danced her way into the room.
How can anyone expect this man to calmly gather his daughter on his lap and cuddle her at that moment? And us parents know that if he made even the slightest eye contact with that cutie, she would have bounced on his lap in a heartbeat and started pulling his tie, or poking her finger up his nose.
He, like his wife, did exactly what he had to do in that situation. I would have done the same.
2. Assumptions and stereotyping
A lot of the comments on various posts and articles on this video accused Jung-a Kim of being rough with the kids. Some pointed out that “this nanny will probably lose her job” and so on. My thoughts were more about what a fantastic job she did of getting the kids out. But at the same time, I naively assumed that she was the nanny.
When my cousin (an Asian, married to a Caucasian) gently pointed out to me that the woman in the video is not the nanny (after I shared the video and commented on it on my own Facebook page), I realised just how much stereotypes can affect us all.
The world is becoming smaller and inter-racial marriages and partnerships are everywhere. But unfortunately, so are stereotypes – in this case, extending to racial profiling (i.e., an Asian woman handling a white man’s children must be the nanny).
Needless to say, my eyes are open and this is a not a mistake I’ll be making anymore.
And as for how Jung-a Kim handled her children, she did what any mother would do to get their kids out of this situation, with the need for speed in this case taking priority.
3. The challenges of working from home
I’m a work-at-home mum, so I can completely relate to Kelly and the unfortunate yet hilarious spot of bother he found himself in, no thanks to his adorable offspring.
Working from home is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, it has remarkable benefits. And those of us who have this, dare I say, luxury, are lucky in many ways.
We don’t have to battle traffic, we can be there for the kids, we can mostly stay out of office politics and squabbles, we can stay in our pjs until noon… (I bet the good professor was wearing shorts below that sharp tie and jacket.) The list goes on.
But working from home can also be isolating. You have to be almost impossibly self-disciplined in order to be productive with minimum or no supervision. And of course, there’s the matter of the kids.
If the kids are away at school, then we often have a good chunk of time to get things done. There’s also time after they go to sleep to tie work-related loose ends. But enter the little ones (in Professor Kelly style) and you have maximum disruption to concentration levels.
Kelly’s video succinctly sums up the challenges most, if not all, work-at-home parents face.
I only wish he locked his door (for the sake of his important interview)… But then, we wouldn’t have had those few seconds of absolute joy, or the opportunity to think about these other issues, would we?
Lessons learnt? A little less judgement, more support, a great sense of humour and solid locks are parenting essentials. Let’s keep the peace in parenting and continue to have each other’s backs.
Watch the now famous video clip here: