A few weeks ago, my first born and I went to Hollywood. Sounds fancy, right? Well, it sort of was. It was also one of the experiences we didn’t know that we needed.
We were invited to film a commercial. This was my son’s first time traveling to California, and it was the first time we’d gone on a trip, just the two of us. When he was younger, we were too broke to go anywhere that was more than a few blocks from home, so a mother-son trip was never in the cards. During the years, I had a few other little cherubs, and a husband that deserved quality time, so time with my oldest still wasn’t in the cards. This trip was going to be so important and epic. There would be lots of learning for the both of us.
The company knew that this was an important adventure for us, so they made sure we could experience as many firsts as possible. Our first time in First Class. Yeah, that happened. While my 11 year old was so cool about it, I pretty much geeked out. Free hot meals? As much bottled water as I want? 2 DESSERTS?! Is this real life? And let’s not talk about the chairs that flatten into beds. I was thanking God for that blessing on our way back home. More on that later.
Once we reached our hotel, the kid wanted to hit Hollywood Boulevard. He was adamant about finding Walt Disney’s star on the walk of fame. We ate dinner at Mel’s Drive In. Seeing the Hollywood Castle from our hotel room window, and learning that the Hollywood Hills are a real thing.
Brandon’s least favorite day was our fitting/voiceover day. While he did have a few books, and Minecraft, to keep him busy during down time, he was NOT about the whole “put this outfit on for me” thing. When you reach the 10th time of doing it, most 11 year olds are over it.
I have to admit, as a mom, his behavior on this day embarrassed me. Because the heads of the company where around all the time, it was difficult to reprimand him like I would do at home. There was no corner where I could take him to have a “serious conversation.” He turned into a bit of a brat. Yup, I said it.
After a long day, we were told that we could return to our hotel. Martin, a member of the production team and a pretty awesome guy, asked if we wanted to go to Santa Monica Pier before heading back. L.A. traffic was picking up, and he said if we left then, we’d be stuck in the car for at least an hour. We could waste that hour at the pier, and then make our way back. Martin is super smart. Santa Monica Pier was so gorgeous, and full of Pokemon. That was important, you know. Forget the beautiful beach, the awesome rides and the churros. Pokemon, yo. But, we did take a few minutes to enjoy a beverage and watch the waves. That’s when Brandon turned to me and said…
“Thank you for bringing me to California, Mom.”
Oof. My heart. After feeling embarrassed over his behavior during the day, he punched me right in the gut with his gratefulness. The lesson I learned that day? My kid is human. He has his ups and downs. He’s also a good human, and will display that trait when it really matters.
After a day like that, we needed a trip to In-N-Out Burger. It was a first for him, and an almost first for me. The first time I had In-N-Out was in Las Vegas almost 7 years ago. Let’s just say, I was eating it to help with the exploits of the night before. I didn’t remember how it tasted, I just knew that it was a tasty burger that would sop up the leftover libations in my body.
Day two was just as long, but a bit more exciting. We filmed in a green screen room. Yes, the WHOLE room was green screen. Again, the kid wasn’t behaving the best. I kept thinking that he should be more appreciative of what was going on. This was big deal. We’re going to be in a commercial! Didn’t he understand how epic that was? Well, probably not. All he knew was that we were on a trip, doing things that weren’t too much fun at first, but there was lots of food and people that knew his name. We also had to do the same things over and over and over. If I was that young doing something like that for the first time, I’m not sure how I would have acted either. We’ve raised our children to share their feelings, but to be respectful. He was doing the first, but not the second. He was being a kid…point blank, period.
This time, I did have some quick moments to talk to him. I reminded him that this was a job. We were being paid to be here, to have fun, to do what we were told. And like any job, you must do your best and listen to the directions that are given to you. He shook his head. I hoped he understood.
Later, he needed to do a segment of the commercial on his own, and I was escorted off set. I hoped that he would behave. I prayed that he would do a good job. Then, I left. The assistant director, Frankie, came upstairs to fill me in. She said he rocked it. He was great. A few of the crew stopped me during a quick trip to the craft services and commented on how respectful and joyful Brandon is. They said it was refreshing to work with a kid like that.
Well, shut my mouth. Before we left the set, the directors called us downstairs and the crew gave us a round of applause. Brandon’s eyes lit up. He finally understood. You do a good job, people will appreciate it. I understood too. I’d done a good job of raising this kid, and these strangers appreciated it on a very hard work day.
We ended that day at In-N-Out Burger. Again. Why not?
Unfortunately, I got very sick during our flight back home. Food poisoning. No, it wasn’t from In-N-Out. While I knew Brandon could take care of himself while I ran back and forth from the bathroom, breaking out in cold sweats while laying in the coolest chair bed ever, I was afraid of him being respectful to the staff. I couldn’t remind him of saying please, thank you, and all that jazz. I was incapacitated.
Well, yet again, he out-did himself. Once we were told to prepare for landing, 2 of the attendants came up to me to fawn over Brandon. One of the attendants said after Brandon came out of the bathroom, he held the door open for her. It was a very simple thing that she does for all of the guests on the flight, but no one ever does it for her. “I was so appreciative that this little boy would do that for me. He made my day. Thank you for raising him so well. And if you don’t have any more kids, you should have more. You’re doing a great job.”
Check mate. I was done. Cooked. Through with life. The other attendant said “I wanted to echo what she said, and let you know that I can spot a good kid and a good parent. I know one because I raised a brat.”
Ha! It all came full circle with that comment. All parents think their kids are brats at some point in life. We may be embarrassed by their behavior, and thinking “what did I do wrong with this one?” But, in the eyes of others, even Hollywood production crews, brand executives and flight attendants, our kids are lights. Our kids are the one bright spot in a dark day. Brandon goes to Hollywood and rocks his mom’s world. That’s what really happened. Forget the commercial. The awesome part were these lessons we learned together.
Oh! Want to know what the commercial was? It was a Star Wars for Target commercial! Check it out here: