Kids and the 30 Second Sound Bite

In my career days, I did my fair share of media training and interviewing of subjects for television news stories. Some folks were pros at nailing that 30-second sound bite concept. Others? Not so much.

For those who had a harder time grasping the concept, I could spend hours asking questions in different ways in an attempt to draw out that succinct statement that television stations might find compelling enough to include in their nightly broadcasts. There was nothing worse than that passionate researcher with a mind-blowing discovery who just couldn’t understand why their entire white paper couldn’t be the answer to the “why is this so significant” question. I think I’m still working on the Vitamin D deficiency I must have earned sitting in a dark edit room trying to find 30-second on-message magic in the middle of a 5 minute answer.
While attempting to have a conversation with the hubby during dinner the other night, we were constantly interrupted by a babbling five month old who is discovering the throw-it-on-the-floor-so-someone-has-to-retrieve-it game and a boisterous three-year-old who might not have anything to say, but certainly doesn’t want anyone else carrying the conversation. The hubby and I somehow managed to share our days in fits and starts between babbles, nonsensical knock-knock jokes and rattle tosses.
It was then that I had a light bulb moment. I’m going to rent my children out for media training. If a spokesperson can manage to get a clear, concise and compelling statement out before my kids interrupt them, they will be big 3 national newscast ready.
I wonder if that violates any child labor laws? Something to look into…

The Scarlet Letter of Parenting

Today, I would have traded places with Hester Prynne in a heartbeat. Instead of a red letter A stitched to my bodice (okay, Gap t-shirt), I bore the screaming five month old in an Ergo. That red letter and all the Puritan ostracizing that came with it couldn’t hold a candle to the stares, eye rolls and nervous tittering I received as I tried to haul arse with my three year old in one hand, the stroller in the other and a hot screaming baby strapped to my chest.

I made the brave decision to go to the zoo today. It’s a warm, beautiful spring day and Peanut has no school, so we packed a picnic and off we went. Only trouble is the whole of Atlanta is also out of school this week for spring break. It was packed. We managed to have a good time, despite the crowds – which included two neighbors, one acquaintance and one of Peanut’s preschool teachers, had a picnic lunch and were squeezing in a few more exhibits before heading home when Pumpkin had enough. I took him out of the stroller and tried the Ergo. It worked for about 10 minutes and then all baby hell broke loose.
Pumpkin is overall a happy baby. But when he’s upset? Grab your earplugs because this kid’s got a set of lungs that could rival a jet engine. And today at the zoo? He was beyond upset. The only problem is that we were at the opposite end of the zoo from the entrance and our car was far from the entrance thanks to the crowds.
As we tried to make our escape, I was outraged at the looks. Of course people are going to turn to see what’s going on with a screaming child, but when you see that the mother is cooing at, shushing and overall trying to calm said child while also trying to gracefully extricate her and her sweaty, worn out (i.e., not moving at the speed of lightning) three year old from the situation, I would have appreciated a few looks of sympathy. I was honestly shocked. Sure, there were a few mothers who offered sympathetic looks as they tended to their own sweaty, hungry and otherwise cranky children, but there were just as many mothers who looked at me as if I must be jamming hot pokers in that baby’s eyes to make it scream like that.
The icing on the proverbial cake was the man who laughed as he passed me by and announced: “That’s why God gives children to the young.” I honestly still don’t know if he was trying to insult me or offer some sort of been there, done that, now I have grand kids and can hand them back when they get that way type of camaraderie. Either way, I wish I’d had the where with all to respond: “That’s also why God provides an able-bodied gentleman to help push a stroller…” because guess whose car was parked just 6 cars over from mine?
After a quick nap, snack and some time in the air conditioning, my happy little Pumpkin returned complete with drooly smiles, giggles and the most deliciously ticklish and chubby thighs for munching. A much better ending, I’d say, than any Hawthorne novel.