By: Ted Peterson
In more ways than I can count, becoming a father has improved me as a person. I’m laughing all the time. I am reminded to look at the small miracles, like rainbows in the lawn sprinklers, which fascinate my son. I get regular and real cuddles and kisses. My partner and I have discovered new depths to our relationship. And yet, occasionally, there’s evidence of the less attractive signs of parenthood.
I think I’m avoiding so far the worst one, being the helicopter parent who frets over development milestones, skinned knees, and every minutiae of every danger that could face Mikey. I am guilty, however, of the cousin of that psychosis, where all my adult conversations – even with people who don’t even have any interest in having kids – turn back to stories about my adorable boy. And, worse, I am in danger of becoming a stage dad.
Everyone thinks that their kid is the cutest, most talented, most brilliant, and funniest creature yet spawned. Those of us who live in the vicinity of Hollywood have to live with the temptation that this wonderfulness needs to be and easily can be shared with the world. In Dayton, Ohio or Billings, Montana, parents love to hear from friends, family, and kind strangers, “Your kid is amazing. He could be a star.”
Only here do we then think, “Oh, yes, let’s do that.”
When our favorite boys’ clothing designer, Fore!! Axel and Hudson announced an open casting call on Facebook, we submitted a couple photos of Mikey on a lark. They replied back immediately that they wanted him for the photo shoot.
It went pretty well after he understood about standing on a mark and why Daddy and Papa couldn’t be in the picture with him. The biggest direction he had ever been given when taking a photo was to say, “Cheese.” A couple of the shots they took will probably be in their Fall “Look Book,” so evidently they got what they were looking for.
Some friends with contacts at model agencies have taken some of the pictures we’ve given them, and we might be getting some representation soon for more work.
Immediately, of course, one’s mind goes to all the True Hollywood Stories of child stars with unhappy lives – Corey Haim, Dana Plato, Brad Renfro, Mackenzie Phillips, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, the list is long. Worrying about the dangers of superstardom, though, is like fretting about a lightning strike. It’s a million percent likely not to occur, so there’s no reason not to get out and have fun.
If doing the photo shoot was serendipitous, and sending photos to agents is simply logical, it’s hard to come up with a good reason for the most recent, goofiest of projects. Perhaps you’ve seen the commercials yourself: Tyson’s Chicken Nuggets want you to submit a picture of your kid eating their product. The winner gets, not money, but fleeting fame, with his or her mug in ads in various magazines and a billboard in Times Square.
It’s a blatant attempt to sell product to vain parents. I was unable to resist.
In addition to being absolutely adorable, as I’ve mentioned, Mikey is funny as hell, so as creative photographer, I thought I’d get him to sing some songs, mug for the camera, and generally try to be as silly as possible. In that I succeeded, and we had a great time. The actual pictures, however, just look like I’m documenting some kind of tragic, involuntary seizure.
Check it out:
We picked the least weird one and submitted it. Near as I can tell from Tyson’s “Wall of Smiles,” every single daft parent of every single halfway presentable child in America submitted one. It’s worth a visit just to see multiple spellings of Addison, Chase, and Jayden. Oh, and if you want to see Mikey’s picture and vote for it, I suppose I shouldn’t stand in your way.
Now, excuse me while I practice my rendition of Rose’s Turn from “Gypsy” in the mirror …