Thursday, August 10, 2006
Harper's first run-in with the paparazzi. Thankfully, her playmate, Jackson, was able to hold her back.
I believe it is every parent's right to live vicariously through their children. To encourage them toward their own unfulfilled dreams and desires. If it weren't for such hard driving parents as Earl Woods, Emmanuel Agassi, and Christopher Culkin we would've never known such amazing talents as Tiger, Andre or Macaulay. Thus, it is my turn to reflect on my life, consider what might have been and force it on little Harper Jo.
Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I dreamed of one thing: to be a movie star. I think I can pinpoint the time to somewhere around the first grade that I decided it was my calling. Two films in particular heavily influenced my passion for being in front of the camera. The Steven Spielberg classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the only slightly less noteworthy Neverending Story.
My dad took my brothers and I to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when it came out in 1981. I was four years old and as the story goes, although it may be more family legend than true, my mother was out of town and was none too pleased that my father had taken us to such a violent movie (let's not forget the climax of the film when the Heavenly Host descend on the evil Nazis and unleash the fury of the Lord in ways that include spontaneous combustion and melting). But for years I imagined myself outracing massive boulders, shooting bad guys, and flying around the world, my travels represented by red lines marked on faded maps.
Only three years later I entered the world of Fantasia and watched Atreyu and Falcor battle the Morque (that scary wolf creature that runs 100 mph unless it's about to catch Atreyu). I nearly wept when Artax sank in the Swamp of Sadness and there was something exciting about the twin Sphinxes and their stone bossoms. But there was also something very disturbing about the Nothing. It raised questions in my mind that eventually linked with thoughts about eternity since both were concepts I couldn't comprehend. To this day I don't like to consider these thoughts very much.
But now it's Harper's turn. After being told by everybody who's ever seen her how beautiful she is, we've decided to try and make some money off her. Actually, we just want to see if maybe she can contribute to her education. Eighteen years from now when she's paying for her own college tuition she won't remember having done the work. How sweet is that? I wish I had thousands of dollars in an account from work that I can't remember doing!
Now it's entirely possible that Harper won't book any jobs. And while I'm fine with that, McCall told her we'd sell her on eBay if she didn't start working within six months. I reassured her that we'd set the reserve price at, like, $20,000 or something. However, I really do think that she can get some print work or maybe a commercial (generally speaking, TV or film gigs are reserved for twins and triplets). But that leads me to a different conundrum. Do I really want her to be in that environment?
I've been on enough sets and in enough studios to know what goes on. It may be a shoot for Pampers, or a commercial for Johnson & Johnson, but it's still a business in the real world. And the advertising and entertainment industries are ones where the sexual harrassment laws only pack a punch as punchlines. I'm reminded of a scene in Fletch Lives where Fletch travels to Louisiana to take ownership of a decrepit antebellum estate he's inherited from a distant relative. Upon his arrival he finds an African-American servant living on the premises and asks if he's heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. Scratching his head, the servant replies, "It didn't get too much publicity around these parts."
So if she's actually able to fulfill my childhood dreams, do I let her? I suppose I'm putting the cart before the horse. Indeed, I may be putting a pile of lumber before a foal. But I still think we should consider some of these questions. When do we say enough? The first time I hear a dirty joke in her presence? The first time she tells me a dirty joke? The first time she tells me a dirty joke while asking for a cigarette? We have to know what our boundaries are for our daughter now. And ultimately that decision has to be made regardless of financial consequences and parental fantasies. Perhaps Kyle Lawrence will never be added to the list of overbearing fathers of celebrities. I guess I'll just have to settle for "World's Greatest Dad". I've always envied their grand prize coffee mug.