Offscript: Zoom interrupted

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Most of the world chuckled and others criticized in March 2017 when Professor Robert Kelly (BBC Dad) was being interviewed live on BBC News and his children barged into his home office. 

Now, in 2020, some of us parents working from home are experiencing being put in the same uncomfortable, awkward situation as we put forth a sheepish front as we push down exasperated feelings deep inside of our cores.

At least, that was my experience when my toddler chose the exact moment I was about to say something in a 2×2 Yolo County/City of Winters meeting.

Every day my three-year-old and I have the same important conversation about how a fish named Avi fell off of his tricycle, went to the hospital in a clambulance, and broke his tail. It’s Episode 1, Season 1 of the Bubble Guppies cartoon if you’re so inclined.

Sometimes we have it multiple times a day. And it’s going to be a frustrating moment for both of us if we don’t have the conversation at the moment she feels important enough to have it.

That particular day we had not yet had the conversation. 

I feel the opportunity for me to conduct business at home has given her a finely honed perception of when I’m listening in on a meeting and when I am participating in a meeting.

The whole meeting she was preoccupied with toys, her siblings, or playing a game with my husband. And although I was wearing earphones, I think she heard Supervisor Don Saylor ask if the “Express” had anything to say during the public input period near the end of the meeting.

The moment I unmuted myself to express my aspirations to assist in sharing information with the Winters community, she popped up next to me saying, “Mommy, Avi fell off of his tricycle.”

The sparkle in her eyes and the excitement in her tone indicated we were definitely having this conversation.

I looked into the camera and said, “I apologize. Please give me one moment, it’s my toddler.” And I muted myself.

Except that I didn’t actually mute myself. And everyone listened in, on a recorded meeting, about how Avi fell off his tricycle, went to the hospital in a clambulance, and broke his tail.

It was over in a manner of seconds, but it felt like 10 minutes had passed. It felt even longer when I went to unmute myself, and found that I was still live on mic.

The reactions parents receive are a range of amusement, to understanding, to pure annoyance. I encourage everyone to have some empathy for any parent experiencing this type of moment and share a look of understanding.

The look of a disappointed Zoom attendee is nothing compared to the slicing pain of the look of disappointment from your child because you didn’t make time to help fill their need.

I’m laughing about it now. It’s not the first time, and with Yolo County sliding between hues of red and purple, it won’t be the last.

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