Kids and work spaces tend not to mix terribly well.  Some times though there is no avoiding it. Fortunately I am lucky enough to work in a place, and with a bunch of people who are relaxed, flexible and accommodating enough to understand that some days you just have no alternative.

Jaxon was in summer camp for the week, which meant that after dropping him off I just had Skyer to look after.  Trouble was that the drop off time made me late for the studio.  With an hour to go before we started taping the show I had to address: final pre-production matters with the studio, jump on a conference call with the news editor, and make whatever final adjustments had to be made all while keeping Skyer variously (and in no particular order): entertained, quiet and alive.

I got lucky I have to admit.  I started him off with a pre-production beverage in the green room. That bought me some time and won some brownie points as I could tell he did not think I was going to remember his mid-morning drink of choice.

green room drinking

With that being said, I’ll freely admit that aspects of the conference call were tricky.  Especially as it was being conducted on the production manager’s iPhone on speaker mode, and the news editor on the other end with whom we were speaking was in an airport lounge in Boston waiting to board a flight to New York.  It also didn’t help that there green room where we conducted the call is an unsound-proofed room and that another show was recording live in the studio directly adjacent at the same time.  Whispered promises and bargains were hastily made in an ever increasing desperate attempt to keep Skyer quiet.  Yes, you can watch the iPad once I’m done.  Of course we can have ice cream later.  Yes we’ll go and look at that lego set you’ve been craving.  Forget having to set your children a good example, having infinite patience and boundless love for them.  What no one tells you, is that parenthood is a constant exercise in negotiation.  I feel as though I am auditioning for the role of a junior Councillor at the United Nations.  Before having kids I couldn’t tell you the last time I truly had to bargain with some one.  Where the stakes were high, the vested interest was extreme for both parties and discussions had to be both clear and forthright, yet also delicately managed so as to avoid gaining a reputation for capitulation.    I have never sought to lie and manipulate (and ironically be manipulated) on such a consistent basis until I became a father.

At the end of the conference call, just after the studio production team had come in to the green room for third time to ask us to keep the noise down, I caught a break.  The night before, the pair of them had refused to go to bed until waaaaayyy past their bedtime. (Am I the only one, or isn’t it frequently the case that kids  possess a sixth sense when a significant deadline approaches for a parent? And that, perhaps feeling threatened, their reaction is to seek to compete for attention, even if that means by misbehaving?)  Anyway – enough pop psychology for one post – the end result was that a seriously fatigued Skyer suddenly – and uncharacteristically – crashed out asleep.

Green room sleepingI did not know how long he would stay down, and I felt bad about leaving him of the floor of the green room – but, I reasoned that to try to move him would be a fool’s errand.

Part way through our record that day he woke up.  But his timing was perfect as we were just coming to the end of a segment when he did.  He cried out a little emerging a moment later in the studio as if to say “what you started without me?”

He stayed with us in the studio.  Any experienced negotiator will tell you that at some point you have to cut your losses and reduce your position to bare absolutes.  This was that moment. Through a combination of bedazzlement, bewilderment and fascination we made it through the rest of the mornings recording with an extra onlooker sitting quietly by the control desk.   I have no doubt that the reason for this was the fact that Skyer absolutely and fundamentally understood what we were doing.  It was as beautifully simple and eloquent as anything we managed to capture on film that day.

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