Every working mother’s dream is to cart her young child along to an appointment. I recently found myself living this dream when my childcare blew up right before a pivotal meeting that had been hard-won and even harder to schedule. Unwilling to risk a missed opportunity, I decided to just bring my son.
I was cautiously optimistic that this would not be catastrophic because he’s pretty cute and I parent in the age of iPads. He loves that iPad more than Gollum loved his Precious, so it was a safe bet that he’d stay quiet. And everything seemed to be going my way as my sweet boy quietly lost himself in a video game and I launched into my presentation.
Midway through the meeting, my son glanced up at me with a telling look of alarm on his face. I ignored him and kept on talking. I’d reached a key point in the presentation and didn’t want to lose anyone’s attention. Undeterred, his little hand tapped insistently at my leg, his eyes pleading with me to look his way.
Soon, his body started the telltale potty wiggle. The others in the room smiled sympathetically and politely asked if he had to use the restroom.
I apologized and excused us to hurry him down to the bathroom. I secretly worried that this interruption had killed the momentum of the moment. We returned a few minutes later, settled back in and I tried to resume where I’d left off.
Almost immediately, I caught a whiff of rotten eggs. There was no sound to accompany the scent, but it was unmistakable. My son was farting. And he spent the duration of the meeting releasing silent but deadly flatulence into that cramped little office. It was so ripe it nearly made my eyes water.
I knew I wasn’t the only one smelling it. But neither he nor the folks I was meeting with acted like anything was amiss, so I continued. I was terrified that the stench was a harbinger of an an entirely different caliber emergency, so I rushed through the remainder of the presentation, tossed some brochures on the table and booked it out of the office.
I drove away in stunned defeat. So much was riding on this meeting. I’d spent months laying the groundwork, preparing the presentation materials and trying to coordinate schedules. My goal was to clearly communicate our mission and demonstrate that my team was ready, able and professional. And not only did I have to bring my kid along, he peed and farted his way through the entire meeting.
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. Me being me, I did both.