Posted by: laughs4dads | September 15, 2010

Working With Children

You know what you don’t see much anymore? “& Sons.”

It seems like the family business is falling by the wayside here in America. We might be able to resurrect it if we knew where the “wayside” was, but without that information, I’m afraid those businesses will continue falling, unabated, until there is nothing alongside the way except ramshackle storefronts, which we won’t be able to clean up until someone determines what exactly a ramshackle is and how to remove it.

But I digress.

My point is that children don’t seem to go into the family business as much as they used to, unless the family business happens to be a multi-billion dollar conglomerate. Gone are the days when father and son (or daughter) would stand side by side all day warmly greeting customers, and then scream at each other after hours because the kid wants to take the business in a different direction and the father steadfastly maintains that specializing in toothpicks is the way to go.

I’m assuming, for illustrative purposes, that the company in question is Philip & Sons Purveyors of Fine Toothpicks and Other Food Removal Devices.

The reason I bring all this up is that I have had the pleasure of working with my daughter, Casey, and it was a joy. True, it wasn’t an actual business enterprise, so there were none of the pressures of, say, turning a profit. But it was a complex undertaking.

What we did was make a movie.

Well, she made the movie. (It was her senior project at Rhode Island School of Design.) But we wrote it together. Her idea, my first draft of a script. Then we collaborated on the rewrites. I can’t tell you how much fun I had working with her on a creative endeavor like this. Or how proud of her I was as she pulled off producing, directing and editing a movie that was extremely ambitious for a student film because it was a period piece that involved costumes, overlaid animation, numerous sets and a fairly large cast (including children) that had to speak with British accents.

Poster for Straight on Till Morning

The movie, Straight On Till Morning, came out pretty darned good (even though there were places where she ignored me and cut out too much exposition). It was good enough, in fact, to get into quite a few film festivals and win some awards. At one of the festivals, in Temecula, California, she got to drive up to a red carpet and everything! It was just about the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced that I didn’t actually experience! Man, that was the absolute pinnacle of living vicariously!

Anyway, I just want to say that with the demise of family businesses, parents are missing out on something that’s truly gratifying: working alongside your grown offspring.

I highly recommend it, even if it’s just for a short time, like it was for Casey and me. The transition from parent to partner can be a joyful one.

P.S. You can see Straight on Till Morning at http://caseyhallen.com/movie_pan.html . (It’s a little over 20 minutes long.)

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