My husband had the truly once in a lifetime experience of being interviewed by George Stepanopolous for a Father’s Day piece aired on Good Morning America. He had submitted answers to some questions in response to a call for dads from his NYC Dads Group network. I was beyond excited for him; he deserves to be recognized, as he is one of the most dedicated fathers I’ve ever known. His dedication is expressed in ways I had never seen in my own life’s experience. He is breaking the cycle of men leaving in his family and stepping way up to be the primary care giver for Camilla and ultimately choosing to stay at home with her and put his career in education and diversity on hold. Together with many other amazing qualities and achievements in fatherhood makes him Father of the Year after year after year in my eyes.
Little did I know when he was chosen for the GMA piece that we, Camilla and I, would also play a big part in the story. One evening I was pouring over Facebook and got a FOR YOUR EYES ONLY message from one of Christopher’s friends. He was writing on behalf of one of the co-founders of the NYC Dads Group who was reaching out on behalf of the GMA producer. They wanted to surprise Christopher during his interview with footage of Camilla talking about her daddy. What ensued was a lot of juggling of schedules, deceit (the best kind there is) and a lot of stress on my part.
After a conversation with the producer, it was very difficult to find a time for the crew to come to talk to Camilla and me. Since Christopher is home with Camilla, my staying home from work to take her anywhere would be suspicious. Either I’d have to take her out of school and go to the studio or they could come to our house when Christopher was working. Neither was ideal, but we chose the latter. The day was less than a week away. I had to re-arrange my schedule, talk to the babysitter and not slip up with Christopher. Here is how we pulled it off…
Christopher leaves to teach around 3pm. I came home early from work, parked a few blocks away so he would not spot the car and the babysitter texted me when he left, so I could get in the apartment, clean up a bit (even cleaning the night before, I thought would be suspicious, and wake up Camilla from her nap before the crew arrived at 3:30. They planned to film for an hour or so and be out of the apartment before Christopher returned home. Of course, the one day he lingers in the apartment before going to work was this day. I kept texting the babysitter and she communicated he was still here. It was almost 3:15 before C left and as I was walking in from the car, there was the crew! What a close call! Camilla was still napping, and I had to wake her (always a gamble). She was very shy given all the equipment; they assured me this was the least amount of stuff for a shoot like this. After the shoot, the producer said, “Waking up from a nap to find your house invaded by strangers with huge lights in the middle of your play space is hard…I think she did well." They filmed for about an hour and did get a few seconds of gems (which you can see in the segment). The real trick would be for Camilla to NOT say anything to her dad about her new friends or all the cameras that were here. It was a good thing that Christopher was going to be away that night at a baseball game, and I was going to take Camilla to school the next day to minimize their time together. Christopher’s interview was the next day so the task was really less than 24 hours of Camilla (who remember is 3 and spends most of time with her dad and talks a lot) not telling Christopher. But, we did it! There were some close calls when he stopped in to drop off his bag before heading to Yankee Stadium and Camilla was in the bath and started talking about the cameras. I just shut the bathroom door. I even skipped my shower the next morning to not give them any time alone. Had she told Christopher, my strategy was to tell him there is a surprise and just to trust us and not ask any questions, hopeful he would fall for the honesty.
As Christopher was coming home that evening after his interview, he called and said “You’re good." Yeah, it was really amazing to pull off the surprise he so deserved. I’m grateful we will have this forever. When you watch the clip its evident he had no idea, and was shocked and wondering—how did we pull it off? Truly a team effort and a lot of luck and good timing!