Negotiating

My son, Garrett has a special bond with Garrett Morris. It’s gone far beyond, “that’s who you’re named after.” At this point, my Garrett demands to speak with Adult Garrett whenever he calls me on the cell.

While at a restaurant one Sunday evening, Garrett called for an update on a project. After quickly discussing the status of the film, my Garrett request my phone so he could speak with Adult Garrett. Immediately, I watched my son take on my business mannerisms and phone etiquette. And then, Garrett began to pitch Garrett:

Ok, Garrett! I have an idea for a movie. It’s a car chase movie with a Tesla. I want you to write it. When will you be done? (Turns to me) Dad – we’re making a movie. (Back to the phone.) Ok, Garrett. Next time I see you we’re gonna make this movie. Don’t forget about the Tesla car chase. Bye!”

I sat across the table from Garrett in bewilderment. He got on the phone with a Hollywood legend, told him what he was going to do, and ended the call…like a BOSS!

I probably should call Garrett and let him know that my son isn’t kidding. He wants that script and he wants it by yesterday!

Garrett has always had an interest in cars. It began with police cars, ambulances, and firetrucks. After seeing “Ghostbusters,” he became obsessed with Ecto-1. Soon after, he saw “Back the Future” and he started collecting every DeLorean he could find. And now, he has moved on to a new obsession – Tesla.

There is a Tesla store in our local shopping mall which Garrett frequently visits. Well – ‘visit’ isn’t the right word. Garrett WORKS at the Tesla store. He has been known to greet customers as they walk in and introduce them to his fellow Tesla co-workers. Garrett guides customers to each car and extols the virtue of both the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X. He shows them how the doors open and shut, where the charging portal is, and how to work the internal dashboard.

Garrett is so infatuated with this automobile that he has been going to the Tesla store 3-4 times a week for the past few months. I’m certain that there are actual employees who are not there that often. He doesn’t get paid for his services with money. However, the manager of the store has recently begun paying him in Tesla t-shirts.

For months, I had been hearing about Garrett’s Tesla adventures. It wasn’t until Garrett begged me to take him to his Tesla store that I truly appreciated his love of the car and his natural salesmanship.

Originally, I was concerned that the Tesla employees were getting tired of seeing Garrett or that he was becoming too much of a distraction. I was wrong. As we strolled up to the store, Garrett saw the manager and sprinted towards her to give her a big hug. He proceeded to make his way around the store to give his fellow employees high-fives and ask how their day was. They were all thrilled to see him!

When he was ready to begin working, he hopped in the Tesla and proceeded to tell me on why I should get rid of my car and buy a Tesla Model X with the gull-wing doors instead.

So – if you want to buy a Tesla, tell them Garrett sent you! (Commission equals tuition!)

After much deliberation, discussion, and article reading from other parents’ blogs

who clearly don’t know what they’re doing, we caved and got Justin a cell phone. He was going to need it for school in the Fall and we wanted him to have it for his week-long visit to Atlanta this Summer. So, we sucked it up and got him some old technology in the form of my old cell phone.

He was beyond excited upon hearing the news that a cell phone was in his future. What he may not have been so excited about was the contract that we made him agree to in exchange for the phone! Honestly, I think it’s brilliant. It stipulates what we expect from him in terms of cell phone etiquette and an “Honor Code” by which we expect him to abide by.

Here is the contract:

I’d like to tell you that all went well and the contract was honored by both parties. Unfortunately, I broke the contract almost immediately. I broke it in front of GWE, in the Verizon store, and within 30 seconds of Justin taking possession of his phone.

One of the stipulations of the contract states: “I will never send, forward, or respond to mean or threatening messages…or inappropriate pictures.”

That’s the one I broke.

I sent Justin his very first text. It was an emoji and this is the emoji I sent:

Justin broke into hysterics. GWE turned to me to remind me that once again, she was disappointed in my parental choices.

To GWE, I simply say this: 😃❤️👉🏻. 🍩☘️😃 (I love you. Donut leaf me!)

Script1There are certain things in life that I don’t want my kids to experience. I don’t want them to experience war on a battlefield. I don’t want them to experience the inside of a jail cell. And, I don’t want them to experience life in Hollywood as actors.

I realize this is an odd thing to say considering I represent actors. But, this business is not meant for children. Most of the “mom-agers” are nuts, the pay sucks, and (even in success) this business has the ability to affect even the most grounded person. Plus, no child should have to endure that much rejection. Once the boys become adults and graduate from both Law School AND Medical School, then they will be free to make their own choices. But, for now, I will be making these decisions for them.

So…with all that being said and against my best personal and professional judgement, I allowed Justin to audition for a major motion picture. I don’t know why I caved. Maybe it was a moment of weakness. Or, maybe I was curious to see what his experience would be. Either way, he was going to have this one-time-only experience and it would be in a controlled environment.

Several weeks ago, there was a casting ‘breakdown’ (a detailed casting call of each of the characters) that came out for “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.” This is one of Justin’s favorite books. Twentieth Century Fox was looking for the two lead kids: “Gregg” and “Rowley.” The studio wanted kids within the age range of 8-10. Initially, I ignored the breakdown because I don’t represent kids. It never crossed my mind to submit my own 9 year old.

However, someone sent GWE the public casting notice on Facebook, she forwarded it me and tagged “FARB” (You know who you are…I’m keeping you anonymous, but I’ll send you a note explaining your acronym.) because FARB is associated with the project. Reluctantly, I agreed to facilitate a taped audition. Normally, an actor would physically go to an audition where they would read for a casting director. I opted for taping an audition in the privacy of our home with GWE and Uncle (Actor, Producer, Director, etc.) Ethan.

So, on a Tuesday evening, with MoGWE by my side (as my witness) – I explained to Justin that Twentieth Century Fox was making this movie and he had the opportunity to audition for it. It took a few minutes for him to wrap his head around what I had just told him.

His first question was: “Am I going to be famous?!?!?!?”

“This is just an audition, buddy. Just a try-out.” I tried to explain.

“Will I get fan mail? Where will I put it? Do I get to do “Dancing with the Stars???” (I found his last question odd considering I had never seen him show an interest in dancing before.) His questions and level of excitement began to escalate very quickly. The best way to describe it is by imagining you’d handed someone a lottery ticket and having them assume they already won.

His final question was: “Can I tell my friends I’m going to be in the movie????” I had to keep lowering his expectations. “Justin – You don’t have the role yet. You have to audition for it. And, I’m sure 10,000 other kids are going to audition as well.”

That night, Justin went to sleep and dreamt of fame and fortune.

The next morning, when Justin realized that the audition was for “Rowley” (the side-kick) and not “Gregg” (the lead,) he was disappointed. Like I’ve done 1000 times with my clients, I had to explain to Justin that just because YOU see yourself as a certain role, THEY may not. BUT, if THEY see you do the role THEY requested and then THEY decided you’re more right for the other role, then YOU get to do the other role. I also explained to Justin that he would have to memorize the sides to audition. “Gregg” had 8 pages of dialogue. “Rowley” only had 3 pages of dialogue. He seemed satisfied with that explanation (and a little relieved to not have to do all that work.) GWE heard my explanation and marveled at the brand of bullshit I just fed my own son. She laughed and said, “You really are in the right career.”

Script2

Over the next few days, I heard Justin going over his material so many times that I could do it for him. I heard several logistical discussions between GWE and Uncle (Actor, Producer, Director, etc.) Ethan about how to put Justin on tape and who would be reading with him. I heard about the lighting and acoustics in his bedroom not being optimal for this type of recording. I was asked 500 times if I knew how to send casting the audition. I may have tersely reminded my wife….”Um, this is what I do professionally! Yea, I got it.”

And when everything was said and done – Justin had officially auditioned for a real movie!

Much to my relief, he didn’t get it. It’s not that he’s not talented and it’s not that I didn’t want to support him. I just want him to enjoy being a kid for as long as possible.

I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer before I can commission his allowance!

Bed2Justin must want something, but he hasn’t told us what it is yet. However, there have been subtle clues around the house. Things are a little neater. Clothing has been put away and the “puppy-dog” eyes have made an appearance once or twice over the past two weeks.

The latest act of kindness has appeared in an unexpected place: my bedroom.

One morning, I climbed out of bed and wandered into the kitchen to look for coffee. When I returned, my bed was made and a note was placed neatly on the pillows:

Bed1

Wow – he must want something very badly if he not only made his bed, but made mine as well!! I wonder what he wants.

 

JustinWhile are Grandma’s house, Justin decided to announce to anyone who was listening (specifically Grandma and Grandpa Bob) that there was a toy he really, really, really wanted. I’m pretty sure he assumed that because he was under Grandma’s roof it would either appear magically or he thought that someone was going to leap out of their chair and go to the store right at that moment to fulfill his wish. I can assure you that neither were an option…especially because it was Super Bowl Sunday and no one was getting off the sofa.

After making his announcement, he was largely ignored. Probably not the response he was hoping for. However, I saw an opportunity here.

“Justin,” I said, to acknowledge his existence. “I’ll make you a deal.”

He perked up in anticipation.

“Here’s the deal: If you get 100% on your spelling test this week and 100% on your speech, I will buy you that toy!”

I saw the wheels in his brain turn in order to process what I had just said. He looked into my eyes to make sure that that I wasn’t bluffing. My son, “The Negotiator,” was about to meet his match in Dad “The Non-Negotiator.”

He took a moment to calculate his response. With caution, he smiled and asked: “What’s deal number 2?”

I smiled and answered him “Justin….there is no deal number 2!!!!” And with that, his smile vanished and the room erupted with laughter.