I suspect that most parents—heck, most people who have spent any amount of time looking after young children—have experienced The Moment.
You know what I mean. You’ve spent the whole day with your toddler: making sure her bodily needs are met, explaining (again) that Mr. Whiskers has sharp claws and doesn’t like to play dress-up, reading to her, playing with her, being in the general vicinity when she’s entertaining herself or watching her current favourite movie for the ninth time in three days, putting a bandage on her hand after she’s tried to play dress-up (again) with Mr. Whiskers.
Then, finally, you decide to take a few minutes for yourself and do something selfish, like finish reading that article you found online, or make a phone call, or go to the bathroom. That’s when The Moment happens, as your toddler—who has been benignly ignoring you for the past several hours—suddenly needs your immediate, complete, and undivided attention.
Most of the time The Moment isn’t a big deal (with the possible exception of you being in the bathroom, and really, that’s what the lock is for). However, Robert Kelly, a respected political science professor, saw his The Moment broadcast to the world.
Kelly was in his home office in South Korea, doing a live TV interview via Skype with the BBC. As he replies to a question about political scandal in South Korea, the door of his office opens and his young daughter, who appears to be about four, dances in and makes a beeline straight for daddy. The interviewer starts to ask a question, interjects “I think one of your children has just walked in,” then continues with the question, which a slightly flustered Kelly tries to answer while gently but firmly trying to get his daughter to back away.
Then a baby in a walker pushes his way into the room and decides to join the party. Moments later a clearly flustered woman, the state of whose pants indicates she might just have made a hasty exit from the bathroom, darts into the room and removes both children while Kelly smiles and apologizes, waiting until they have left before continuing with the interview.
Of course the video has gone viral, with more than 30 million views on various sites such as Facebook and the BBC (here’s the Facebook link: http://bit.ly/2lKIzYd). Most people have been inclined to see a charming little moment of family life, but a few have accused Kelly of being a bad parent, because he tried to move his daughter away rather than pick her up (let me repeat: he was doing a live interview with the BBC, and we all know how likely a toddler is to sit still and not interrupt while daddy keeps talking about South Korean politics). And because the woman—Kelly’s wife—who rushes in to get the children is not white (Kelly is), many people assumed she was the nanny, which says a lot about stereotyping and casual racism.
There are, I think, a couple of lessons to be learned here. First: maybe don’t try to judge someone’s parenting skills and domestic situation based on a 44-second video clip. And second: lock the door, parents, to prevent The Moment from happening at the wrong time.