Juggling Pre-School, World’s Top Diplomat

Moms look at their calendars and make tough calculations every day.

So when the United Nations Secretary General’s office called and asked if I could moderate a “ global conversation with Ban Ki-moon,”  I wasn’t sure I should say what I was actually thinking — which was,  “Oh, man, it’s Mason’s first day of pre-school.”  Well, it’s more like a glorified first visit really.

“We’re planning to live stream on Facebook, Twitter, Weibo (the Chinese social media),” said Stephane of the UN.

“What time?”

“11 a.m.”

I looked at my Outlook calendar again.   The pre-school visit was supposed to be 9:15 to 10:15 a.m.  It was right next to the calendar notation showing that my husband had a trip to Seattle that same day.

No plan B.  And my babysitter was indisposed, so plan C was not operational either.

I knew the social media questions for the world’s top diplomat would involve peace-keeping and famine and social justice and corruption and global health issues, but I was really just worried at that moment about one doe-eyed little boy who was refusing to potty train and suffering from post-traumatic separation anxiety.  I thought the third child was supposed to be EASY.

Mason on the auspicious day. (Juju Chang)

Hmmmmm. We live on the west side of Manhattan.  The UN is located in gridlock central on the far east side of Manhattan.  I’d have 45 minutes to cross town and clear security.  It would take at least 30 minutes to get there on a GOOD day.

“OK, I’d be honored,” I heard myself say. Clearly, I’m comfortable with risk.

The auspicious day arrived, and after shifting through the sand box and commenting on his dress up corner… I smiled at my 3 year old and checked my Blackberry nervously. After an hour at the pre-school, I hurriedly escorted my happy toddler to my babysitter.  I kissed him goodbye,  changed (Mr. Rogers style) from my cardigan to my blazer, and jumped a waiting  car.

Several heart stopping traffic jams and a few frantic calls later, I arrived at the UN TV studio.  It’s a good thing the UN staff are so capable, because it all went off without a hitch.  Mr. Ban was gracious and diplomatic.  It’s not every day you get to make even a small contribution to world peace and still admire the playdough on the first day of pre-school.


At left, me; at right, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (Mark Garten/UN Photo)

Watch the social media conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon here.

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