Professor Robert E. Kelly, of Pusan National University in South Korea, was being interviewed on BBC television when his children joined the live broadcast. Credit BBC
Professor Robert E. Kelly, a political-science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea, sat down on Friday in what appeared to be his home office for a BBC World interview via Skype on a serious subject: the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
Soon after the segment began, video footage shows, a toddler casually strolled into his office, punching the air with her elbows. She was soon followed by a baby in a walker. Then his wife slid frantically into the room, grabbed the two kids and herded them out as Professor Kelly remained mostly composed.
Many readers said they could relate to the slapstick interruption of Professor Kelly’s serious moment, sharing stories of disruptions not only from kids, but pets and naked spouses, too.
Here is a selection of tales received on the website and Facebook page of The New York Times. Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
‘My Child Woke Up’
I was on a long conference call with a colleague and some clients, calling in from home as I had a sick child sleeping in the next room. As a subject matter expert, I only had about five minutes of the call in which I actually had to speak, and everything seemed to be going along fine, until my child suddenly woke up, came looking for me to tell me that he felt sick and proceeded to vomit all over the stairs. Which coincided with my colleague asking me to provide the crucial information the client needed from my area of expertise.
I took the phone off of mute and calmly said, “I’m sorry, my child has just thrown up on the stairs; can I have five minutes?” Client was very gracious, got my kid cleaned up and tucked back in bed then chimed back in acting every bit the total professional.
‘Shoved the Pacifier in His Mouth’
As a playwright with a new production coming up, I was doing a telephone interview on live radio on the home phone. I thought my baby Sam was asleep in his crib when his deafening cries started. As the interviewer began his next question, I dropped the phone receiver, ran into Sam’s room, shoved the pacifier in his mouth, ran back to the phone and started answering a question I hadn’t heard, trying to use impressive sounding abstract theater jargon that might be applicable. I loved this video, and it made me and thousands of other worker parents feel less alone!
‘I Looked Up to See My 1-Year-Old Rolling Down the Stairs’
Once upon a time I was presenting our monthly numbers to the sales team when I heard a loud bang over and over. I looked up to see my 1-year-old rolling down the stairs with my wife chasing after her. She picked her up and raced back up the stairs. I continued with my presentation and never heard a cry. She logrolled and didn’t hurt herself at all, thankfully!
‘The Candidate Had Locked His Children Out’
I am glad professor Kelly was not applying for a job. I was once a member of a panel hiring a school director. We were interviewing a candidate via Skype, and in the middle of it we could all hear a door being pounded. It turned out the candidate had locked his children out of his apartment in an attempt to have a quiet environment for his interview: The kids just couldn’t take it, and started banging the door. It was not a determinant factor in the hiring, but it did cause an impression, and I am afraid it was not positive.
‘Daddy, Whatcha Doing?’
This happens to me sometimes when I have to take a call and I’m working from home. My office door opens and I hear, “Daddy, whatcha doing?” Any shushing just prompts him to ask louder. I either put the phone on mute or ask if I can call the person later. Worse is when my two kids get into a screaming match.
‘The Interviewer’s Husband Walked Into the Frame Completely Nude’
I once had a Skype interview and, in the middle of the interview, the interviewer’s husband walked into the frame completely nude. I tried my best to keep a straight face while he figured out that I could see him. I’m not certain she knew I had just seen her husband, but we both pretended nothing happened and faked our way through the rest of the interview.
‘I HAVE LICE’
My mom likes to tell a story of taking me to work with her when I was little. I couldn’t go to school, but she had a deadline that couldn’t wait. She set me up in a conference room and told me to read and color quietly until she was done. Angry at being shut up all by myself, I made a sign saying, “I HAVE LICE” and taped it to the window of the conference room for all her co-workers to see. Kids are unpredictable.
‘He Began Rolling His Toy Trucks Over My Toes’
When I was doing an important telephone interview at home for my newspaper, my youngest son decided I wasn’t paying enough attention to him, and after trying to get my attention and failing to do so, he began rolling his toy trucks over my toes. I can fully relate to this situation. I think it’s hilarious. It’s what comes with having kids.
‘Mommy, Come Wipe Me!’
Oh, this brings back memories. My favorite was when I was on a call with the executive team of the Fortune 500 health insurance company I worked for discussing health care reform when one of my children yelled from the bathroom, very loudly, “Mommy, come wipe me!”
‘My Toddler Decided to Take His Clothes Off’
I don’t work from home unless I’m on call. I once took a phone call and stepped outside to get some quiet. My toddler decided to take his clothes off and run around the front yard and then start down the street. So I chased a naked child for a few minutes before negotiating with him to put clothes on. I did a pretty good job of keeping the phone muted when I didn’t need to talk. Except for one time when I said: “O.K. fine, you can stay out here with me, but you have to put clothes on. At least shorts.”
‘The Cats Show No Respect’
I am on the phone all morning while working from home. My talking puts my two dogs fast asleep, and other than the occasional snoring, they are quiet. The cats, however, show no respect. There is a piano just outside my work area, and during a call when I was training a group, the cat decided to jump up on the keyboard and slowly walk on the keys, playing his own tune. Luckily, everyone on the call enjoyed the show and we continued on after completion of the interlude.