Questions

From time to time, I’ve found myself on my kids’ school campus after classes have begun. There doesn’t seem to be any way to escape to my car without walking past Garrett’s kindergarten classroom. And, like an air traffic controller hyper-alert on espresso, Garrett has an amazing ability to know when I am walking by his building and reroute me into his orbit.

A few mornings ago, he begged me to stay for a few minutes to witness “Calendar Time,” the morning weather report, a little show-and-tell, and the rest of his class’s morning routine. Each child is assigning a specific spot on the rug. In order to not break the rule, Garrett ordered me to sit in his spot…and then he plopped down in my lap.

As the morning announcements began, I would periodically feel a vibration from his butt. I felt it once or twice, but wasn’t sure what it was. Then it dawned on me. He was farting on me! The first time I realized what was happening, I asked him to stop. He didn’t respond. The second time he did it, I told him to stop again. He didn’t respond. Finally, he farted on me a third time!

Angrily, I looked at Garrett and whispered, “Garrett!! Stop farting on me!” He turned to me and angrily responded. “I’m not farting on you!! It’s your phone!!”

He was right. I had my phone on vibrate and someone was desperately trying to reach me. When it comes to fart or phone, I prefer phone!

picThere is a Japanese proverb that says we all have Three Faces:

The first face, you show to the world.
The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family.
The third face, you never show anyone.
It is the truest reflection of who you are. 

In this social media world filled with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we are a society that works very hard to cultivate public personas that (we think) match who we think we are…or are trying to be.  And, no matter how hard we try to project one type of image, we can’t escape how others really see us.

I believe that younger children see us the clearest. They see the good, bad, and everything in between and process it without judgement or ego.  That is why I decided to ask my kids the following questions. Some of the answers I expected. Some, I didn’t!

Garrett’s Questions and Answers:

1. What is something I say a lot? Bad words
2. What makes me happy? When I’m playing with you.
3. What makes me sad? When I’m not listening.
4. How tall am I? So big, very big
5. How old am I? 12
6. What’s my favorite thing to do? Golf
7. What makes me proud of you? When I listen
8. What is my favorite food? Broccoli
9. Do I have a favorite child? Yes, me!
10. If I could go anywhere, where would I go? To the golf range
11. Do you think you could live without me? Yes.
12. What’s my favorite song? Ghostbusters
13. How do you annoy me? Bothering you when you’re working
14. What is my favorite movie? I don’t know
15. Who do I have a crush on? Me
16. Where was I born? Atlanta
17. What’s my favorite show to watch? Doctor Who
18. Who’s my best friend? Aldis
19. What scares me? I don’t know.
20. How do you describe me to your friends? By showing you to my friends.

 

Justin’s Questions and Answers:

1. What is something I say a lot? “Have a good day at school”
2. What makes me happy? Me getting good grades
3. What makes me sad? Me getting in trouble
4. How tall am I? I don’t know
5. How old am I? 45 (I’m 41)
6. What’s my favorite thing to do? Play golf, watch Doctor Who
7. What makes me proud of you? Beating you in golf
8. What is my favorite food? Pie (Didn’t specify Apple or Pizza)
9. Do I have a favorite child? Yes, me!
10. If I could go anywhere, where would I go? You would go somewhere to golf with me
11. Do you think you could live without me? NO!
12. What’s my favorite song? The “Hot Day” song (Uptown Funk)
13. How do you annoy me? A lot of things. Saying “daddy, can I please have this? daddy, can I please have this? daddy, can I please have this?”
14. What is my favorite movie? You like tons of movies. You like “Back to the Future.”
15. Who do I have a crush on? Mommy
16. Where was I born? Atlanta, GA
17. What’s my favorite show to watch? Doctor Who
18. Who’s my best friend? Your clients
19. What scares me? Me getting bad grades
20. How do you describe me to your friends? The best dad in the world. The best dad no one can have. But that he yells at me a lot.

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!

There are spelling words and then there are words I would consider ‘verbal diarrhea.’ Week after week, we go review Justin’s spelling words with him and he  usually does pretty well during the Friday spelling tests. However, this week, we’re dealing with a rectal explosion of orthographic study.  

Justin (a 3rd grader) was sent home with a new spelling word to learn, in addition to his 20 other spelling words. The word is: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. (Just for the record, I misspelled it twice while typing it….and I was reading it from a piece of paper!) It is a noun. Just from looking at it, I would have assumed someone died from it. Not the disease itself, but rather just from having to learn how to spell it. Whoever discovered it was smart enough not to put his or her name on it. 

Word1

 

I asked GWE if this was a legitimate spelling word or if it was a bonus word. We were confused. The instruction clearly stated that if the word was spelled incorrectly, four points would be deducted from the final grade. However, this word is ridiculous and clearly not in league with Justin’s other spelling words. For clarification, I asked GWE to email Justin’s teacher. 

The following day, the teacher responded that no points would be deducted if the word was spelled incorrectly. 

I’m starting to understand why Justin is confused in class. The written instructions did not match the verbal instructions. And, I still didn’t know if this was considered a bonus word. I decided to leave it alone and not care. However, I did offer GWE $10 to send the following response: 

Dear Teacher,

Thank you for your prompt response. We are sorry to inform you that Justin will not be participating in this week’s spelling test because he suffers from Hippopotomonstrosesquippediliophobia. 

Best Wishes,

Those Parents

 

2_1-Alarm-SystemsThere are hundreds of decisions you need to make on a daily basis as a parent. Some of these decisions include: “Is my kid wearing warm enough clothing?”, “How much homework I am supposed to help with?”, and “How loud am I supposed to yell when scolding a 4 year old for not following directions?” (Correct answer: Loud enough to get your point across, but quiet enough so that the neighbors don’t call the police.)

Lately, there has been a new decision I’ve been grappling with. Maybe I’m alone in this or maybe you’ve thought of it too.

We have an alarm system in the house and every time we leave, we turn it on. The boys know to wait by the door until the alarm is set. Once it is on, they know there’s a time limit to open the door…walk out…and then close the door. They’ve been great about getting out in time.

However…..

There have been more than one occasion when I’ve set the alarm, watched the boys walk out the door….and then I’ve thought about racing to the door, slamming it shut, and locking myself in with the alarm on.

Door

Anyone else? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller??

 

Jail-1One afternoon last weekend, Justin and I found ourselves in Burbank running a few errands before going to a comedy show. As we were walking down the street, I realized that we were in front of the door leading to the Burbank Jail. Justin wasn’t paying attention because he was walking while playing with my iPad. (He was multi-tasking.) 

We were only there for a few seconds when Justin took notice of the police car that stopped next to us. Two officers got out of their car and they escorted the person from the back of their car through the door marked ‘Entrance.’  

Justin waited until the door was closed before asking me the following question: “Daddy? Why is that man going to jail?” 

Without missing a beat, I replied, “That’s what happens when you don’t finish your school work.” 

I could see the blood drain from his face. Once he realized I was kidding, he laughed…and probably breathed a huge sigh of relief!

Jail-2