The Tooth Fairy Does Not Take Requests

gg68286266Justin is at an amazing age where he wants to joyfully believe in things that require great imagination like spooky ghosts, super heroes, and time-traveling DeLoreans. But, he’s starting to question whether or not he believes in those things. He knows there is no Santa Claus and he knows there is no Easter Bunny. However, he’s still uncertain if The Tooth Fairy exists.

Since he was a little boy, The Tooth Fairy had been sneaking into his room at night to collect his loose teeth in exchange for money and a personalized note. The amount of money that was owed fluctuated due to unexpected demand on The Tooth Fairy Reserves without any given notice. (Basically, I gave him whatever few dollars I had left in my wallet at the end of the night.)

In the beginning, he was excited to get these notes! “Read it to me, daddy!! Read it!” he would squeal. Pretending like I had never seen the note before, I would read him what The Tooth Fairy said. Each note was different, but it was generally a gracious note thanking him for the tooth and leaving him a “gift” in exchange.

Several “teeth” ago, I crept into his room in the middle of the night only to discover that Justin had booby-trapped his room in an attempt to catch The Tooth Fairy in the act. I was able to quietly make my way to his pillow without falling onto the bed or twisting an ankle on the obstacle course of Legos, Skylanders, and random shoes Justin left on the floor. I think he continued to believe in The Tooth Fairy beyond that point because….who else could have navigated those obstructions without waking him up???

One tooth ago, I made the tooth-to-note-and-cash transfer without any difficulty. What I didn’t know was that Justin was prepared for The Tooth Fairy and left a note that The Tooth Fairy didn’t see. The following morning he showed GWE the note he left and wondered why The Tooth Fairy didn’t take the note or follow its instructions. (Cash was nice, but Yo-Kai Medals were better!) The note is below:

tooth-fairy

Last night, another tooth was lost and (once again) The Tooth Fairy did his/her job. Based on what happened the last time, I thought there might be another note. I was right. Here is note #2:

tooth

The following morning, Justin pulled GWE aside and asked if The Tooth Fairy was real. She inquired, “Why do you ask?” He responded that his friends at school were telling him that The Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. Without directly answering the question, GWE was able to “answer” the question in a way that allowed him to continue to believe and look forward to watching his younger brother get visited by The Tooth Fairy someday as well.

And, for the record, The Tooth Fairy is a traditionalist. He/she is prepared to pay for teeth with cash, not plastic!

Justin’s First Real Rock Concert – Huey Lewis and the News

img_5862Ever since Justin saw “Back to the Future,” he’d become obsessed with Huey Lewis and the News. He’s been listening to the “Sports” and “Greatest Hits” albums non-stop for months. It’s funny to hear him doing his homework with his headphones on while humming along to “Hip to Be Square” and (his favorite) “Workin for a Livin.” Because he’s wearing headphones (that cost the same as my car – thank you Grandpa Bob!) he doesn’t know that we all can hear him singing. It’s pretty funny to hear a 9 year old sing, “…at least until I die, dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t, I’m supposed to get a raise week, you know damn well I won’t.”

One evening, GWE ‘bounced’ into the bedroom and shook me excitedly while announcing that Huey Lewis and the News would be performing at Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay in San Diego. GWE decided that I would be taking Justin to see his favorite band perform live. Before I could ask “If this is It,” GWE had ordered the tickets, booked the hotel room, and we planned on taking a “Couple Days Off.”

This is one of the few bands I’ve loved consistently over the years. While I was very happy to be seeing the show, I was more honored to know that I would be accompanying Justin to his first real concert! That made it that much better!

GWE and I had seen Huey Lewis and the News play about 15 years ago at the Universal Amphitheater and it was a great show. By pure coincidence, a few years ago, I was having drinks with a client at the Four Season Hotel in Beverly Hills on the front patio when some rowdy guys behind us got a little too loud. I brushed it off thinking: “DRUNKS!” But, when they began to harmonize and start singing, I turned around to discover that it was Huey Lewis and the News! I was shocked! It was the best private show anyone could have asked for!

It wasn’t until the week before the show that we finally told Justin what our plans were. He could not believe it! (As excited as Justin was to see the show, I think he was more excited knowing that we would have to pull him out of school early in order to get to the show!) For Justin, the next few days were just a blur of counting down the days to the concert and asking which songs they’d be playing at the show.

When the day finally came, we jumped in the car, picked up the kids from school and we were “Cruisin’.” We all listened to (and sang along with) “Alive at 25” as we headed down to San Diego. Justin and I had just enough time to drop off our bags at the hotel and race over to the venue. To tell you that we had fun wouldn’t accurately describe it. It was a blast!

Here are some pictures (and a short video):

Justin

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More Justin

Justin’s Spanish Comic Book

During Justin’s final weeks of third grade, one of his homework assignments was to create a comic strip using the Spanish vocabulary words he had been assigned throughout the quarter. He was very excited about creating the comic strip. But, he was not thrilled at the prospect of trying to use his Spanish words to create a story. His plan was simple: create the comic strip first and then try to ‘massage’ the Spanish vocabulary words so that they fit the images.

His comic panels were great. But, as time went on, he struggled to find the right words to use. It was at this point that he made his biggest mistake: he asked for my help.

I do not speak Spanish. After five years of Spanish lessons, I can order a Chalupa at Taco Bell and ask for directions to a library. But, that’s about it. As I’ve confessed before, had I not been sitting behind Tammy Parks or Greta Jackson all throughout high school, I would have failed Spanish. Thanks to their unprotected classwork and my keen eyesight, I cheated my way to graduation. (Hey – “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying!”)

With my limited high school Spanish and a lot of help with Google Translate, I “helped” Justin with his assignment. Here are two examples of our collaboration:

Comic 1

In the first panel, a fight broke out. However, “punching” was not a vocabulary word. We decided to go with “Estoy tocando la cara con el puno,” which roughly translates to “I am touching your face with my fist.”

Comic 2

 

And finally, one character is laughing as the other one screams, “No me gusta bola de fuego!” This translates to “I do not like it when my balls are on fire!”  (I was sure someone would notice how inappropriate this was, but no one said anything! No note from the teacher….no call from the school.)

Somehow, Justin passed Spanish. I still owe a debt of gratitude to Tammy and Greta and I probably owe an apology to whoever read Justin’s comic book.

Lo siento!

The Audition of a Wimpy Kid

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!

So You Think You Can Dance, Garrett?

BoogieSeveral weeks ago, we took the kids to the Alisal Ranch for a few days of vacation before the school year started. It provided us with the opportunity to disconnect from technology, play with some farm animals, and just enjoy each other’s company for a little while without distraction. For three days, Justin found refuge in one of the barns where he fed and played with guinea pigs and bunnies. Garrett became the unofficial tour guide of the entire petting area. He would greet each guest at the gate, explain the rules of how to pet the animals, and then oversee that the rules weren’t broken. GWE and I spent our time observing, decompressing, and wondering why we didn’t do this more often. bunnyOn that Saturday night, the ranch had a giant bar-b-que for all the guests with live music and a dance floor in an open field near the pool. Garrett had seen the band setting up earlier in the day and made sure to tell them that he expected them to play some rock and roll music. They acknowledged his request and told Garrett that they would see him at the party.

That evening, we arrived just as the music began. Garrett could not contain himself. He raced to the dance floor where the music took over and his “booty betrayed him.” (A phrase we heard on a different trip.) Garrett became possessed by the music. It didn’t bother him that he didn’t have a dance partner. It didn’t bother him that he didn’t know the words. The music played and his little body obeyed.

Enjoy the dance stylings of Garrett Priluck:

There’s a Carpathian in the Crapper

vigonormalGarrett and Justin wanted to see “Ghostbusters.” I knew they were too young to see the new one, so I rented the original. They loved it. LOVED IT! They kept running around the house for days pretending to ‘bust’ ghosts. Whenever we got into my car (once referred to as “The Hotmobile,” now referred to as “Ecto-1”) they would request the “Ghostbusters” theme music on repeat and sing it as loud as they could over and over and over as Garrett made the siren sounds with his voice.

That all changed when the DVD of “Ghostbusters 2” arrived at the house. What started with excitement and anticipation ended in tears and a fear of going to the bathroom alone.

While the boys loved “Slimer” and “The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” in the first movie, they were a lot less jovial after seeing “Vigo the Carpathian.” Garrett didn’t seem scared. I would describe his reaction as ‘reserved.’ Justin was clearly bothered by the character and covered his face a couple of times.

I should have been a little more observant and understanding of Justin’s fear, but I wasn’t thinking. All I saw was a way to have fun scaring the kid who’d spent all week trying to scare me.

While the boys continued to watch the movie, I went to my computer, printed out a picture of Vigo the Carpathian, taped it to the inside of Justin’s toilet seat, and then quietly closed the lid. My trap had been set. I just needed Justin’s bladder to set this prank in motion.

Potty3

When it was time for dinner, Justin asked for us to pause the movie…and he never returned to it. Hours later, it was time for bed and I asked Justin to get ready. He put on his pajamas, brushed his teeth, and then climbed into bed. Knowing that the trap had not yet been sprung, I asked Justin to go potty. He told me that he didn’t have to.

“Justin – go potty before you go to bed.” I said.

“I don’t have to,” he replied.

“Justin – you’re going to have to go in the middle of the night. You might as well go now,” I reasoned.

“I don’t have to,” he said, again.

“C’mon, Justin. Just go!” I said in my deepened dad-voice as a ‘do-it-or-else.’

Begrudgingly, he got up, walked into the bathroom, turned the light on and then turned the light off and got back into bed.

“Justin! There is no way you went potty. At least lift the lid this time!” And then I waited………

Once again, he got up, walked into the bathroom, turned on the light, flipped the lid…..and then he SCREAMED a scream I had never heard before. At first, I was very pleased with myself. I got him and I got him good! I was expecting him to come out of the bathroom smiling with an “Oh dad. You got me so good” look on his face. That was not the look I saw when he came of the bathroom.

What actually happened was that he raced out of the bathroom and into his bedroom with tears streaming down his face and he was white as a ghost. He collapsed on the floor where I was standing and he began to shake while screaming, “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME????” My prank had blown up in my face and now my son was a crying blob on the floor who refused to go into the bathroom by himself for any reason.

Thankfully, Garrett was the one who saved the day!

As I got Justin into bed and tried to calm him down by telling him that everything would be ok, there was a moment of silence as we both heard Garrett walk into the same bathroom. I thought, “oh shit, it’s gonna happen again.” In silence, Justin and I stared at each other as we heard Garrett pull down his pants, then lift the lid…….and then, we heard him quietly laugh to himself……and finally, we heard the sound of him peeing. As if nothing was amiss, Garrett pulled up his pants, closed the toilet lid, flushed, and walked out.

Justin and I could not contain ourselves. We erupted in laughter. The thing that almost scared the (literal) crap out of Justin actually made Garrett laugh as he went potty!!

So, now we know, a Carpathian in the crapper isn’t for everyone!