I expect that almost everyone reading this will have seen the video that went viral of Professor Robert Kelly in his interview with the BBC about South Korea. Or maybe it was North Korea?
But who cares?
If you haven't seen the video, here it is:
The most memorable part of that interview was the intrusion of his children, followed by his reaction and then his wife's swift -- or as my niece put it, "ninja-like" -- removal of the children, and his immediate resumption of answering the question that had been put to him. It was very, very funny, and as the parent who shared it said, we've all been there. But I found it informative, too.
This is what I saw:
First of all, Professor Kelly was so focused on what he was saying that he had to be told by the interviewer that one of his children had come into the room. Perhaps she had entered quietly, but judging from the little dance she started immediately after opening the door, I doubt it. This tells me that Professor Kelly was probably used to such intrusions, and on some level was comfortable with them. Then when the little girl got close behind him, he reached back, gently found her shoulder, then equally gently tried to push her back, all without taking his eyes off the camera. A smile and slight laugh were the only indications of his reaction. This, or something like it, has happened before to him (and likely to most of us).
At this point, the baby then wheeled into the room in her walker, equally joyful, adding to the commotion, followed almost immediately by a woman who must surely have been a softball player at some point, judging by the skillful way in which she skidded into the room. She in turn grabbed the children and, keeping as low a profile as possible, dragged them carefully (not roughly, not angrily) out of the room and closed the door gently but firmly. At which point Professor Kelly, still relaxed and focused, and after a very slightly bemused but sincere apology, resumed his answer to the question.
I've watched the video several times (okay, more than several) and shared it with a few friends (okay, more than a few). I would not have done so had either Professor Kelly or his wife handled the situation with anger or frustration, or even indicated that they were feeling angry or frustrated but had repressed it. Instead, their reaction to normal childhood behavior was appropriate, efficient, and -- above all -- considerate of the feelings of those involved, and it made me want to be there again, laughing with them.
Thank you, Professor Kelly. I learned a lot from you today.