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Tori Spelling and me, nanny-free

by Malina Saval

It was a sunny July day in 2007 and I was working as a reporter for Us Weekly when Boaz, my 10 month-old boy, and I pulled up to the Malibu beach house to interview Tori Spelling. She’d given birth to son Liam a few months before and had inked a deal with Nutrisystem, and together we were going to philosophize about such of-the-moment topics as her goal weight and why Forever 21 is her favorite store ever.

Because I’m that rare Los Angeles beast (read: white, Ivy League-educated) that lacks steady childcare, I often toted Boaz around on journalism assignments. By the time he was eight months old Boaz had attended the Kidstock Music and Arts Festival at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills (Reese Witherspoon was host), a Paramount press screening of The Heartbreak Kid, and over a dozen red carpet premieres. Even when he wasn’t with me, he was with me: I once pumped breast milk from a hands-free pump in the car on the way to Brenda Richie’s house following Nicole’s 2006 D.U.I. arrest.

The interview with Tori went swimmingly well. She’s a doll, seriously. She’s got this happy sweet smile and she exudes this genuine, down-to-earth warmth that rarely emanates from children of Holmby Hills privilege. (Maybe it’s because she grew up around the rich and famous that she doesn’t seem much impressed with it all). There’s a tremendous likeability factor about Tori Spelling. She somehow manages to be that girl that doesn’t have it all even though she actually does.

Boaz sat on my lap as Tori and I discussed her post-pregnancy body, why breastfeeding didn’t burn as many calories as she would have liked and why she thought she looked heavier after Liam was born. Boaz only knocked my digital recording device off the picnic table twice, and both times I was able to dust off the dirt. At one point the Nutrisystem PR rep offered to hold Boaz so I could focus on Tori (he kicked the guy and started crying so the rep handed him right back), but for the most part the interview went off without a hitch. Meanwhile, Tori’s dependable baby nurse Patsy sat on a big fluffy chair in the house’s air-conditioned patio, rocking Liam in her arms.

Did I wish I had a nanny so I could properly focus on my job and make my life a thousand times easier? Yea, of course. Was I worried that I looked completely overextended and unprofessional and that nobody here was taking me seriously as a journalist? Totally. Was I resentful that Tori had a nanny to hold her kid while she answered interview questions and I didn’t have one to ask them? Definitely. Did I wish I were conducting this interview in Sweden or Finland or one of those other socially enlightened Scandinavian countries where new moms get one-year maternity leave with full salary and benefits and every day is take-your-kid-to-work day? Oh my God, yes.

But was I also just a little bit proud of the fact that I was able to do it all— interview Tori, hang with my kid and manage to keep all electronic equipment in tact, all without any help? Absolutely.

After the interview, the crew set up for the photo shoot and Boaz and I wandered around sampling cookies and sticks of licorice from the snacks table (because we were not on the Nutrisystem diet). Little by little friends of Tori arrived, some of whom I recognized from brief appearances on Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. There were picnic blankets and pretty people lounging around in bikinis and slathering sunscreen on their kids’ shoulders. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that belonged to next-door neighbors and then-couple Courteney Cox and David Arquette scampered past and sniffed around for crumbs. At one point Perez Hilton showed up in a bright orange puffy coat even though it was 85 degrees outside. The finishing touch: a paparazzo had planted himself knee-deep in the ocean.

Now, I was starting to feel kind of lame. Everybody knew one another and Boaz and I stood around like two rootless nomads. I took off his clothes and let him run around on the sand.

And here’s where it’s lucky that I didn’t have a nanny: I had a built-in excuse for sticking with my kid and not making awkward forced conversation with reality TV stars. Boaz was my wingman.

Malina Saval

About Malina Saval

Malina Saval is the author of The Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens and Jewish Summer Camp Mafia. She’s written scripts for Touchstone Pictures and Walt Disney Television and pens entertainment features and celebrity profiles for lots of different magazines. She is an associate features editor at Variety and has a two year-old voicemail message from William H. Macy on her phone that she just can’t bear to erase. Follow Malina on Twitter @MalinaSaval

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