By now, I’m sure most of us have seen the viral video of Professor Robert Kelly’s two children crashing his BBC interview a few days ago.
Like most people, I found the professor’s toddler strutting into the middle of his interview to be incredibly endearing, even more so when her little brother rolled in afterwards. So many people loved the video for its honest depiction of life, unscripted with a touch of chaos.
Of course, there were other more complicated reactions, not least of which was the assumption, made by many, that the woman in the video was Kelly’s nanny. She is his wife. Why did some people jump to the nanny conclusion? What does it say about us, as viewers, who made that mistake?
Still, I watched the video with a lot of empathy. I smiled and laughed because, let’s face it, those kids—and that strut—are adorable. But in laughing at the video, I realized I was also laughing at myself. I laughed because that could have easily been me (that is, if I was important enough to be interviewed on the BBC). I’ve been where Professor Kelly was. After all, sometimes no matter how much you plan, kids burst in, at the most inopportune times, unannounced and completely unaware, and take you by surprise. They hijack your life. And the only thing to do is take it all in stride and accept your fate.
Perhaps serendipitously, on the same day as Professor Kelly’s BBC interview, Facebook’s time capsule feature shared a video with me from three years ago (screenshots below).
The video is of my then two-year-old son as he watches the Wiggles and plays his toy guitar. At the time, my son wasn’t in school yet and spent all of his days with my dad, who watched him during the day. My dad is the one taking the video, and in it, you can hear him encouraging his youngest grandson to “dance some more” and “sing, boy, sing!” My son LOVES it. The concentration on his face as he plays is outmatched only by the joy that emanates from every pore on his body. He is in the zone, and we are with him.
Seeing this video again was bittersweet. On one hand, I really, really love this video.You can’t see it in the screenshots, but there are a few places he full-on jumps as he jams. Even though that same little boy is now six-years-old, you can still see that bounce in his step whenever he skips, even if it’s just from one room to the next. I can’t remember the last time I skipped. I imagine I’d feel pretty foolish if I tried.
On the other hand, seeing old videos like this makes me sad—sad that those days are days gone by. We often describe nostalgia as a longing for the past, but I think it’s more than that. Nostalgia isn’t about longing; it’s about grief. It’s about mourning what was once but no longer is. I miss that little boy. I miss the way he shimmied his shoulders in much the same way as Professor Kelly’s daughter struts.
I envy that shimmy.
This post is part of the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers, who have created a space for writers and teachers of writers to come together. To learn more about this challenge, click here.