In a sweet and funny essay in New York Times yesterday, Brooklyn writer Albert Stern recounts a breakfast encounter between his 2-year-old son, Eliot and Matilda Ledger, the 3-year-old daughter of Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger.
The kids start out banging on tables together in the back of a Brooklyn coffee shop. But the more interested Matilda becomes in playing, the more poor Eliot clams up. His fumbling–and unsuccessful–attempts to capture the attention of the older and chattier Matilda aren’t lost on his father.
I admit I was aware of the stakes. After all, it’s easy to imagine that if Matilda and your child hit it off, you and your family might find yourselves having a play date with Matilda and her mother. Even for a non-enthusiast of play dates — and I would never put myself in that category — that might actually be interesting
Stern does a great job capturing the banality of the encounter–the way he and Michelle Williams briefly chat about parenting, the way the kids exchange names and ages in the course of thumping on the tables. But he also conveys the largeness of the moment, from his perspective. Michelle Willams! Matilda Ledger! His son! I’ve had similar encounters with celebrities and their kids and as ridiculous as it seems, it is hard to stop yourself from imagining that your toddler might be your ticket to the A-list, that he will so thoroughly charm the celebrity’s kids that the celebrity will immediately invite you into her inner circle of friends.
Alas, for poor Eliot–and his dad–it just isn’t meant to be. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the rest of us.