In the fifteen minutes since I told Mary and Karenna that they have both been invited to audition for a movie project they’ve hit all the important stuff: girlie squeal; panic that they’re not good enough; back to the girlie squeal; finalizing the layouts of their plush Burbank apartments.
“So what happens if one of you gets it and the other one doesn’t?” I finally ask.
They stare at me. Long and hard.
As usual it is Karenna who comes up with the most carefully-measured response.
“Loser gets to eat winner’s favorite ice cream in front of her. A whole carton of it.”
“Karenna, you are lactose intolerant.”
“Exactly. She’d get to watch me eat it and then barf it back up.”
“And I hate that soy cream stuff,” Mary adds, “so I’d barf, too.”
“Perfect,” they fist-bump and spend the weekend memorizing their scripts and coaching each other.
Despite being 30 minutes early for our call time, the line of bright-eyed hopefuls extends from the audition room, down the hall, around a corner, up the Escher stairs, onto Platform 9 3/4, where troubles melt like lemon drops because it’s so freaking hot back there you’ll pass out and boom … no more troubles.
It’s clear we’re going to be here for hours.
Unfortunately, it’s Spring Break so Eden is with us, too. I have very strict rules about the kids’ not watching TV, which has made the iPad a godsend. My first priority is to hook Eden into a My Little Pony episode, but wouldn’t you know it? — She’s already set herself up, even plugging the headphones in.
Third one’s always the prodigy.
After about an hour — when we’ve progressed in the line far enough to get hateful glares from the people just arriving — Eden pulls off her headphones and says,
“This is incredibly boring.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, baby. Want to switch to Doc McStuffins?”
“No, I mean,” she gestures grandly, “This. This sitting here is really boring.”
I take her hands in mine, look deep into her eyes.
“Sweetheart, you’re the baby sister of two child actors. This is your life now. The good news is that your chances of acquiring an addiction or knocking over a liquor store when the money runs out are much lower than theirs.”
I hand her a bag of crackers.
“These crackers are boring.”
“So sorry,Lovey, here, let me help you with those headphones.”
At last, Mary and Karenna are called in to their auditions. They come out smiling, which is all anyone could ask, only apparently not because the whole way home they can’t stop saying “Please, please, please I hope we made it …”
But too many days go by without a call. I am pretty sure they didn’t make it. Then, this text from the casting company:
We are trying to identify this little girl for a callback audition Thursday.
Thank you for any help! 🙂
Oh, did I forget to mention? — While we were waiting in that hideous line, I saw a bunch of little kids going into an audition room with some toys.
“Hey, want to go play?” I said, pushing Eden toward the door. I didn’t fill out any paperwork or anything, because she was just there for the toys.
Making this conversation extremely awkward.
Um, that’s my kid, I reply to Bob.
Why don’t we have her name anywhere? he asks.
I bet your intern lost it, I say. She looked very shifty to me.
Can Eden come in for a callback?
Why the heck not? I answer.
Back in the casting studio, Eden plays with toys while I oh-so-sheepishly-and-exactingly fill out paperwork.
Next day, this email:
Subject: Re: Callbacks Update!
Can you confirm Eden’s availability May 11 and 12?
And, under the heading of double/triple checking, attached is the photo of the child we’re talking about. She did state her name as “Eden Fletcher”… we assumed that is her middle name?
Subject: Re: Callbacks Update!
The attached image is of Eden Lamar Schwarzer, my daughter, who can’t pronounce her own freaking last name.
We are available May 11th and 12th.
And with that, my six year-old has booked her first professional acting job.
“Soooo …” I say to Mary on our drive to ballet.
“You heard from the casting company didn’t you?” She is twelve and gloriously accusatory.
“Yes,” I say. “It isn’t the news you want, and it isn’t the news you’re expecting.”
I throw her a sideways glance. I have always loved to look at her, but it’s different now: in her leotard and bun, the elegant lines of Woman emerging along her muscled back and slender neck.
“Eden got the commercial, didn’t she?” she asks.
Being the mother of three people isn’t the hard part.
Being the mother of one person, and also the mother of another person, and also the mother of a third person — that’s hard.
“I am very happy for her,” I say. “She is excited.”
“How can she be excited? She thinks unicorns are real and wants to be a ninja.”
“You’ve just described the very essence of a person who is easily excited.”
“She didn’t even try. She didn’t even want it. She just walked right in and got the part.”
“No, actually, I kind of shoved her in. She was so bored, poor thing. — Point is, it’s great. I want each of you to take advantage of any opportunity to learn or try something or be creative or take a risk.”
We’re pulling in to the studio parking lot, which is always a good time to get to the hard stuff. She can get out when she’s had enough.
“It’s ok to be jealous,” I tell her. “It’s ok to be mad, too. Even mad at her. Doesn’t matter that it’s not fair, it’s human and it’s ok. Just … don’t do it in front of her.”
She mutters a word I pretend not to hear and opens the door.
So Eden does the shoot. She has her own stylist. Eden. A stylist. Yeah.
Eden plays with toys for a few hours while people point a camera at her and tell her to smile.
At the end she starts to melt down a little so I tell her if she promises to smile one more time, the grandparents will buy her the Barbie of her choice.
I have very strict rules against bribing my children to smile — and I hate Barbie — so the grandparents are a godsend.
Despite the hour and how exhausted she is, despite the fact she did five hours of actual, paid labor, despite the fact we were stuck in traffic for 45 minutes, Eden is wide awake as we approach Target, where she demands we stop so she can select the fanciest Barbie in the aisle.
The one with the unicorn.
Home, and her sisters throw open the door. “We’re so proud of you, Eden!” — And it is a sister pile of hugs and loves. I know they are sad. And they know they can be sad for themselves and happy for her.
So I guess all that time in that stupid line wasn’t a total waste.
“Do you like being an actor, Eden?” Mary asks. “Was it fun?”
“Nah. Too much smiling. I’m not really a smiley girl. I’m more of a fashionista.”
“A FASHIONISTA! Or maybe a ninja!”
“With a unicorn, yay!”