As of today, we have officially been living in New York for one full week! It took us four days just to get out of Michigan- three of those days we were completely snowed in and the fourth day was spent in the emergency room and seeing the orthopedic surgeon with my son Caleb who managed to break three bones in his foot while we were waiting to escape the snow! I know, right?! But we are here and settled in and loving every minute of this adventure.
Because most of the boys filming takes place in and around Westchester County, with only one day actually in Manhattan, we found a place to stay in White Plains, New York. The boys booked this role as local hires, meaning we are responsible for living here at our own expense for the duration of filming and let me tell you- the cost of living anywhere near New York City is not for the faint of heart! While we are actually a good half hour train ride away from Grand Central Terminal, it still feels like city life for us. At home, we have a giant yard with a park directly across the street. There isn’t a building more than three stories tall for as far as the eye can see, so to live on the 19th floor of a high rise is quite exciting for the boys! They love riding the elevator up and down to our apartment, they love throwing the garbage down the garbage chute, and looking out over the train station that is directly below my bedroom window. The train is rather exciting as well. Our hometown is the birthplace of Henry Ford and the American automobile. Because everyone has a car, there is really no such thing as public transportation. Everything about living near the city is new to the boys and I just love watching them take it all in and make it their own.
So far the boys have had three days of filming. This is by far the biggest role they have ever played- they will do more filming for this project than everything else they have filmed combined! We were quite nervous about it actually. At every step of this process, my husband and I have stopped to ask the boys if they really want to do this. Working with four year olds is tough in that what they want or don’t want can change at any second. Literally any second! They’ll ask to have chicken for dinner and by the time I get it on the table, one is in tears because he decided he wanted pork chops. So asking four year olds to make the long term commitment to play a lead role in a film is a bit risky. We never want to force our boys to act but at the same time, once they make a commitment to something it is important to us that they learn to honor that commitment. I couldn’t help but worry about what would happen if we got here, or even got half way through filming, and the boys decided they had changed their minds.
Luckily things are off to a fantastic start. The cast and crew are absolutely amazing and the boys are having the time of their little lives. Each new booking is nerve wracking because we never know if the people involved are good with young kids- and anyone who has done it knows that working with preschoolers is it’s very own beast! But fortunately everyone here is just incredible and the boys love coming to work. Each day, the boys bring a giant Swoop bag full of Legos to set and stake out a little corner near their dressing room to set up shop. By the second day of filming, even the producers were coming over to play Legos! When it is time to film, the boys are happy to trot off to set with the other actors.I’m finally able to breath a sigh of relief knowing that they are truly happy being here and working on this film.
I’m sure at some point the boys will have an off day, maybe even a day where they don’t really want to film, possibly accompanied by one those meltdowns that four year olds are oh so famous for! But I’m coming to grips with the fact that it will be okay. We all have bad days and days we don’t want to go to work. Sometimes I have to remember that four year olds are people too. As parents we get so concerned with our kids learning manners and how to behave that it is easy to forget that it is just that- learning. Little kids are allowed to have bad feelings and bad days too, and they need the time and space to work through such things just like we do as adults. I’m sure over the course of four weeks, the boys will have one of those days. Just as we try to do with everything in this industry and in the boys’ life in general, if that time comes we will just use it as a learning experience. But as of right now, our little boys are enjoying their new life. They love the big city. They love the actors they are working with. They love experiencing new things every day. And I love watching them take it all in. Not only are our boys learning more and more about acting every day, they are learning something much deeper as well. They are learning to explore their world, to take advantage of unique opportunities, to try new things and enjoy each and every experience life puts in front of them. Today we wrap up our first full week of living in New York and tomorrow we wrap up our first week of filming… and as a mother, I couldn’t be more proud of my little boys!
Stay tuned for more “From the Momager Trenches!”
Elizabeth Paddock is a clinical social worker turned stay at home mom to identical twin boys, actors Caleb and Matthew. She writes part for the medical television show “Ask. Dr. Nandi,” and home school her first grade sons. She has a family blog “Love, Learn Play” on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/