This month, all the moms and dads in my daughters’ first grade classes have been taking turns being interviewed by the children about their jobs. It’s all very sweet–the kids learn how to be polite, to listen, to take notes (or draw them), and how not to poke one another in the neck with their pencils while the special, exalted adult guest has the floor.
I am an editor at a magazine, but I decided to go with “writer” because I do that, too, the kids are learning to write and I thought writing for a magazine would be easier to explain. Never mind that when they are old enough to read magazines, magazines will mostly have gone the way of LPs and rotary phones. In Sasha’s class Monday, I unpacked some examples of articles I’ve written, and pushed that thought right out of my head, as I do a horrifying number of times each day. I then carefully lowered my 160 pound body into the tiny child-size chair at the edge of the rug, and turned my attention to the fresh-faced, impressionable youngsters arrayed before me.
All the kids in Sasha’s class were sitting criss-cross applesauce on the rug, pencils at the ready. Sasha was right at my feet, beaming up at me proudly, whispering little secrets to her friends to show that she had the inside track on what I was going to talk about. I passed out the articles, several of which had photos of Sasha and her sister, thus elevating Sasha to the status of major media personality among her peers. Then I fielded a few softballs from Scott, Luigi, and Kasar. Milla asked me what I liked about my job, and Olivia asked what I didn’t. Scarlet asked if I also took all the pictures to go with the articles. I answered that I did not, that was someone else’s job. It was all going swimmingly.
Until up shot the hand of a little boy whose name escapes me. He had big brown eyes and a reporter’s dogged curiosity. “Do you ever get to interview any, like, famous people?” he asked. I replied that yes, occasionally I do, but that I find regular people much more interesting.
“Well, like who?” he asked.
I thought about it. I haven’t interviewed Elmo or Dan Zanes. What the hell does he care? I wracked my brain trying to think someone among the celebrities I’ve spoken to over the years who he might have heard of. I write about health, mostly. There really aren’t many celebrities in my area, and when I do interview them, it’s usually about breast cancer or bulimia or something equally inappropriate for such a setting. I hesitated, then answered, “No one you’d know.”
Silence. Sasha looked a bit stricken. I could tell I’d lost my credibility, my sparkle, my mojo. The kid said, “Like, who?”
Have you ever scrambled to name drop in front of a bunch of 6- and 7-year-olds? It’s really humiliating.
“Well, I write for grown-up magazines, so I tend to write about grown-ups. Not, like, Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers or anything.” A collective “Awww” rose up off the carpet. (It was a lie, anyway: Elle, a grown-up magazine I haven’t but could conceivably have written for, had Miley Cyrus on the cover a few months ago, another thought I pushed out of my mind.)
Murmuring in the crowd. “No one from Disney Channel at all?” asked Scott. Scott! Scott was my little buddy, not moments ago asking me about whether I prefer to use a computer or write longhand. Scott, you’re killing me over here! Who knew Scott was a star f&&&*r?
“No, no one from the Disney Channel.”
Just then, Erika, Sasha’s teacher broke in and urged the class to thank Sasha’s mommy for taking time out from her very busy schedule interviewing boring nobodies to come in to speak about her very important job in the very important world of very important grownups. Polite applause. I collected my articles, and beat a hasty retreat.
Miley Cyrus. What. Ev. Er. May Miley Cyrus not have kids anytime soon, for her sake.
Photo by BitchBuzz CC