Crippling our Kids

Artist Kim McCarty

Once upon a time in the land of fantasy and fun, aka Hollywood, there was a young actress fresh off the plane from New York City. This, by the way, is a true story which I will try to tell briefly, wordy witch that I am!

This young actress came straight from doing lots of theater in NYC, and as the “new kid in town” began working immediately.She lived in a fabulous house in the Hollywood Hills with her BFF, also an actress, had a terrific agent, and attended the most prestigious acting class in town. Life was grand in LA LA land. For a year.Then she wasn’t the new girl in town anymore. Jobs became fewer and far between. Soon our young actress was going broke.

One day our cute ingénue woke up, checked her bank balance and said “Oh Shit!” Oh, I forgot to mention that our young starlet had no parents. Both were deceased. She did, though, have several aunts and uncles. As luck would have it, one of her uncles, a well to do one at that, was coming into town the very week she said Oh Shit looking at her bank balance.

Phew thought our actress who began practicing her “ask.”  Even though she’d never asked to borrow a dime before, she felt sure that if asked correctly her uncle would loan her money to tide her over until she landed her next acting gig.

Her uncle arrived and invited her to his hotel, the Bel Air, for lunch. They sat in the garden and had a great catch up. He complimented how well she looked and said life in LA must really agree with her. “Yes it does!” answered our girl who was waiting until coffee to deliver her rehearsed speech.

Hotel Bel-Air

Hotel Bel-Air

Her dialogue had been so much easier to say to herself in her bathroom mirror. She did a fine job, though. When she was finished she poured milk into her coffee, waiting calmly for her uncle to take out his checkbook.

Much to her horror, that didn’t happen. To her further horror when her uncle began to speak the first thing he said was “NO.”

He went on to explain that if he lent her the money, the next time she ran out it would be easier for her to ask to borrow money again. As she sat there thinking I hate this asshole, he went on about how lending her the money would just be a Band-Aid and create a pattern in her of looking to be bailed out.

After coffee he graciously paid the check, told her he had great confidence in her and kissed her goodbye.She drove home fuming, inventing new ways of stringing curse words together to go with his name.

With no other recourse our actress was forced to do the last thing she wanted to do; she got a “straight job” Most of the actors she knew had them. Some worked as waitresses, bartenders, script readers, a few even worked at those God awful telemarketing jobs.

The problem was our girl was proud. She also suffered from wrong thinking occasionally and this wrong thinking tended to get in her way. Wrong thinking’s like that.

Being a bit lost at 19 our heroine had married a successful investment banker. Her name had been added along side his to the New York Social Register. They had a lovely NYC apt, a summer house in Bridgehampton, and a lousy marriage.  Divorced five years later, with no skills accept for acting, she did wish her retort to being told she needed to learn to type hadn’t been,

“I’m a terrific actress, I won’t need back up.” She actually did go to a typing class once. When the teacher said, “Ms. O’Neill, if you say the F word one more time when you miss a key, you are out,” the old girl meant it!

The idea of having a job where she could be seen by peers and producers alike filled her with dread. They would think she wasn’t doing well and judge her badly for it was how her wrong thinking went. That they would all think ‘Good on you Girl, for taking care of business like a mench, didn’t even cross her mind.

Now because our young actress bit the bullet and went looking for a job, and as we know, God/ The Universe helps those who help themselves, in due time she found a job. A friend of a friend recommended her for a job managing a new restaurant. Short on skills but with the Irish gift of gab and a good wardrobe, our girl got the job! As happy as she was to get the gig, the drip, drip, drip of acid from her esophagus into her tummy told her she wasn’t that happy.

She would be seen, directors, producers, maybe someone she knew from NY, people would come in and see her working the door.  Would they think she had failed? That she came to Hollywood to be an actress and wound up a dime a dozen hostess.

Was taking a straight job a sign she was throwing in the towel?  The thoughts kept coming at her but her landlord was coming at her to and he wanted a rent check.  Thank God our girl had the good sense (she was reading a lot ometaphysical stuff at the time) to let go of these thoughts, be grateful, roll up her sleeves and work hard.

Michael at Trumps Restaurant

Michael at Trumps Restaurant

That job changed the course of her life.

Who knew she would feel fabulous learning the restaurant business? Who knew earring a steady pay check could fill her with a sense of accomplishment? Who knew she would discover that she was good at something other than acting as she did verywell at her job both with the staff and clientele. And the biggest Who New; that her next husband and father of her first child would walk in the front door and change her future forever?


Certainly not our young actress, who cursed her uncle all the way to work on her first night.  Again this is a true story. It’s mine. My uncle did me the biggest favor of my life. He refused to bail me out.

Lately, I’ve been watching my friends deal with their post college aged kids. It is cold out there in the working world and good jobs are hard to find.  Many of our good kids who played by the rules and bought into our story that if they worked hard, got into a good college, a good job would be waiting. The good stopped there.

Jobs are hard to find and paying for the life they have grown accustomed to is daunting indeed. We love them. We want to help them. And we should. But how and how much and when to draw the line are major concerns.

Speaking with a friend on the phone the other day, she told me she was worried that if they had to keep supporting their 41 year old married son, she and her husband would run out of money in 10 years. (They could both live another 20.)

When I asked if he was looking for a job, her answer was, “Well he’s a writer and it’s hard.”  The truth here is that even though her son has a wife and a baby, he feels it’s “beneath him” to take a job to support himself and his family that isn’t a writing job.

Not even going to speculate on what his right or wrong thinking may be. I’m not here to judge, but to say the mama bird flings those babies outta the nest without a backpack, a lunchbox, a wad of cash, or even a worm for a reason.
A few months ago a friend of mine who’s a preacher gave a sermon that included the idea of having expectations of our kids. He talked of how his grandmother always said she had great expectations of him and how it fed him with confidence that a woman as fine as his grandmother saw and expected great things from him.

I‘ve been thinking about this concept a lot since hearing his sermon. Maybe we have unconsciously enabled our kids instead of letting them know how much was expected of them.

We all wanted to make it better for them. I know this. We wanted to give them lots of what we never got. Sometimes we knew we couldn’t give A, so we gave too much of B. Whatever the case, I hung up from my friend’s call thinking of my uncle, sorry as all hell for cursing his name.

Sharing and caring that it was just June and now Sept is days away. Quick ! Go do something fun that you wanted to do this summer and haven’t! And what we’re wearing…Can’t believe I’m touting this one, but…Banana Republic, a store I haven’t frequented in years…has GREAT basics for men and women all on sale!!

Nothing more for today except don’t forget to count your blessings!

As usual sent with love




3 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Wonderful piec..and so true!

  2. Susan says:

    Well said!

  3. stacey Altman says:

    Good piece, Annie. I can relate. Being the step-mom to an only child, I often feel that his parents go overboard with supplementing his lifestyle. I don’t judge (out loud!), but I really feel they are doing him a disservice in the long run. I’ve seen many of my friends (over) indulge their children and now that those kids are older, these same parents complain to me about the kids and their lack of motivation, etc. I keep my mouth firmly closed.

    Love the picture of you and your daughter!

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