8 going on 28

I’m sitting in the waiting room of a large and reputable bi-coastal talent agency. Thankfully, I already have theatrical representation, but I’m in search of a commercial rep for some extra cash.  Look for me on the next Tampax commercial. Or better yet, Valtrex.  Oh, yes.  If the price is right, I’ll go on national TV and claim I have herpes.  No problem.

I digress.  I wish you all could be the flies on this wall and join me as we witness the destruction of a childhood.  A few moments ago, an eight-year-old stepped out of the elevator.  This “child” is groomed to perfection, right down to her trendy cotton t-shirt, tucked into her Prada skinny jeans to display her leather, braided Gucci belt. She stands next to her “40 somethings dressed as 20 somethings” father as he announces her arrival and asks if all of the agents might squeeze her into their schedules. She gives a mechanical flip to her perfectly coiffed locks, and paints on her most adorable beauty pageant grin.

She and Daddy take their seats next to mine, open her portfolio and go over the imperative details together. The gloss on her lips shines brighter than mine and I’m reminded to re-apply for my own meeting.

In LA, I witnessed families divide just so that one parent could relocate with one of their children, from midwest homes to studio apartments in Hollywood so that the child could “follow his or her dreams”.  It’s hard not to wonder just whose dreams they are following.  And, does it really matter?  Is there any dream worth the shattering of a family unit?

I am a huge believer in the preservation of a childhood and wonder if working professionally can snuff out that sacred flame.  Public school, playgrounds, bike rides to creek beds to skip stones, piggy banks with rattling coins…these were integral components of my own upbringing and my goal is to do my best to offer my children the same.

I open my manila envelope, remove the pictures of my babies and place them in my purse, leaving only my own headshot and resume.  I had thought that possibly, before they are old enough to be aware, their adorableness could make them some money for college.  But as the receptionist calls this eight-year-old’s name, and I watch her saunter off down the hall with more of a womanly swagger to her hips than I could ever master, I realize that this brag book is for facebook, friends and family. Let’s keep it that way for now, shall we?

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18 responses to “8 going on 28

  1. Every child deserves a childhood…complete with the magic of dirt under their fingernails, muddy or banged up knees, and dirty faces all from playing hard! Not to mention, the bliss of ignorance to the world outside their little corner. Yeah, that’s how it should be when your young…save the lip gloss for the ladies, eh? ;0)

    xoxo

  2. I don’t know quite what to say about this one… It is very well written and I really like it! I just don’t know what to say…our childhood was golden…our parents had the formula for creating happy children- shows as a family, playing together, writing together, being kids together…and yet we all woke up very early to the dream of using our god given talents on the stage. So? Whose fault is that? Whose dream was it? AND how the heck will I ever be able to teach my children to just be “regular” kids while having absolutely no experience with being one myself? It seems that no matter what you do, your children can only get the best of what you know how to give them at the time….everyone is screwed!

  3. Emily, two things…..I can just picture you looking at this little girl and then reapplying your own gloss….I can see the looks, the thoughts traveling through your head and then the action of you actually putting the gloss on. Love it! Secondly, and not a comical level, the point you raise here is more than valid. It really is sad what these kids get put through and what brats they become. You are absolutely right girl, whose dream are they following. Keep up the good writing.

  4. Brava Em–for being a great mommy, and an an excellent writer. As you’ve probably witnessed, my kid fully enjoys launching impromptu, full-scale, one-man productions of Les Mis whenever and wherever the mood strikes him. I see how much he loves it, and enjoy just watching his imagination bursting at the seams. I also know the reality of doing the actual thing on a day-to-day basis (at this age) would probably disenchant him to the fun of play. I think it’s our job to open the dress up box for them, but it’s their job to decide which costumes to try on. The beauty of this age is that they can try on every one! If forced into the box of “kid performer” so soon, we are not really giving them the chance to let it be something that is just theirs–something that they love to do because it’s fun. Between potty training, learning to share, remembering please and thank-you’s and so on, we’ve gotta let them have some part of their life that isn’t rated with a sticker,award, (or in a career’s case, a paycheck!)

  5. In my opinion, the unsettling part is that the father of that little girl didn’t seem believe that it should be a priority to preserve for his daughter the wonderful freedom and innocence that childhood bestows on children. Does working professionally have to mean completely giving up having a “normal” childhood? Life is all about balance and priorities. That parent’s priorities seem much different than yours, which is what makes it difficult to witness. I feel the same about parents who don’t seem to value education, or encourage inquisitiveness, or allow enough space for a child to experiment and develop their individuality.

  6. Wow…some real wisdom here. You know how much I loved our childhood and I was waiting for you to mention PORT!! We (me and you, Em) almost got hit in the head with rocks one night as the Anstrom boys tried to find us but were too afraid to head into the darkness!! All while Kassie was enjoying popcorn from the oversized wooden shovel????? HAHAHAHAHA!!! That is funny. Great writing, as usual, Em!! I agree with you about preserving childhood. As I sit here with our windows open and the sweet smell of fresh air moving around our house, I close my eyes and remember so clearly playing all summer long with you in Maine…wow, makes me want to cry thinking about it. I truly am so grateful for all of our childhood memories and are so very thankful for our parents who allowed us to be kids…

    • Awwww, Al. This made me cry! Ill tell you, there is nothing like this northeast spring air. It brings me right back to our childhood too! Such a special time. Wish we could go back…for just a day or two. Love you so much!

    • Thanks Al! Yes. I remember those days well. I also remember thinking we were really great hiders, but in fact they weren’t looking for us! they always forgot about the little kids 😦

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