NICK: Daddy? What’s that shadow over there?
ME: Oh my God. It’s just a shadow from the lamp. Go to sleep. It’s 11:30 at night. Go to sleep. Oh my God. Go to sleep.
NICK: I can’t. What’s that blinking?
ME: I don’t know. It’s just blinking. It’s some light outside or something. It doesn’t matter. It can’t hurt you. Go to sleep.
NICK: Can shadows hurt me?
ME: No. Not going to sleep can hurt you.
ME: If you don’t go to sleep you’re miserable the next day because you still wind up waking up at 7:00 AM and when you’re miserable, it makes us miserable so you should go to sleep.
NICK: But dad!
NICK: My brain won’t let me go to sleep. I’m too restless.
ME: Try. Really try. Close your eyes and don’t look at the shadows and don’t look at the blinking light.
NICK: But dad when I close my eyes I know the shadows are there and then I have to look at them!
ME: Oh, my God.
NICK: Daddy? I think I have to sit up.
ME: No. Lie down. You have to lie down.
NICK: No, dad. I have to sit up because then…um…my brain will be more steady. You see?
ME: I see.
NICK: Can I come sit over there with you?
NICK: Dad, if I don’t come over there and sit with you I’ll never go to sleep because then my brain can’t be steady!
ME: Okay… okay. Come on over.
NICK: Thank you, dad. Dad?
NICK: I’m not afraid of shadows.
ME: That’s good.
NICK: Yeah. It’s like…they’re just not anything scary. Like they can’t do anything to you.
ME: That’s true.
NICK: And so they just look scary. Dad?
NICK: There are bad people.
ME: Yes. But there’s no bad people in here. They can’t get in here.
NICK: But there’s bad people outside.
ME: Yes. I mean… there’s no one right outside right now but there are bad people in the world, yes.
NICK: Are you gonna protect me?
ME: From the bad people?
ME: Of course I am. You okay?
NICK: Yeah. Daddy?
NICK: Thank you for taking care of me my whole life.
ME: Of course, buddy. Of course I would. It’s my very favorite thing to do, to take care of you. You don’t even have to thank me.
NICK: What’s your favorite thing about taking care of me.
ME: Okay…well… I think it’s probably these conversations that we have. I love talking to you. I love hearing what you have to say. I love knowing what it is that you think about.
NICK: When’s my birthday?
ME: It’s in eight months.
NICK: For my birthday you have to get me every single toy I ask for, okay.
ME: Now, hold on just a minute…