“So how much am I going to get paid?” Leo asks. A good question indeed… but coming from a seven year old, slightly unexpected.
“How much do I get for being a model?” he insists.
“Well, Leo, you get the glory that comes with appearing on my site.” He eyes me suspiciously as if my sole purpose in life consisted of ripping off little children. “I want money”, he says in a tone reminiscent of Addie Loggins in Papermoon.
I have known his mother, Isa, since the mid-eighties, when we attended school together in Brussels, formed a student union, fomented a revolution, and went our separate ways. My path led to Texas, hers to Thailand but always with a foot in Belgium.
Christmas 2001: I found her with child. I had not expected it. I knew nothing about it. I rang the doorbell and she opened the door with the tiniest wee baby in her arms. The baby wore a strange hat. That was the future negotiator in chief, Leo.
Luckily, I had my camera with me! It’s not as if I would not have come back to photograph him but you have no idea how difficult it is to park in Brussels when you have completely lost the habit to parallel park in spots as big as pocket handkerchiefs.
A year later, Leo is up, not yet running but close!
The baby is adorable and not asking for money yet.
Unfortunately, during the next few years, Isa, Leo, and baby daddy Claude spent all their winters in Thailand, on beaches of white sands and turquoise waters. Can’t say I blame them, especially if you live in gray and rainy Brussels, but in the midst of all this whirlwind of international travels, meeting became difficult… until the munchkin began elementary school last year then the nomads got stuck. The following photographs were taken this Christmas and you will notice that while Isa still looks exactly the same, Leo has morphed into quite a little man.
Next year, I think I’ll have to show up with a pile of cash and pots of money. That kid drives a hard bargain.