CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT THE THING THAT GOT STUCK UP HIS NOSE

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NICK: Dad! Dad! Help!

ME: What’s wrong.

NICK: Okay. I had a thing. A red thing. And I was just smelling it. And it just, like, jumped in my nose and it’s way up there and I can feel it! How am I gonna get it out???

ME: Wait, wait, wait…hold on. You stuck something up your nose?

NICK: I didn’t stick it up my nose, dad. I was just smelling it and holding it close to my nose.

ME: What were you smelling?

NICK: The red thing.

ME: You were smelling a red thing and you sniffed it up your nose.

NICK: Yeah! But dad…it will probly be okay, right? I mean probly it’s just gonna come out later.

ME: Okay. Was it big or small?

(long pause)

NICK: Small.

ME: It was just a small thing?

NICK: Yeah.

NICK’S GRANDMA: I’ll go get some of that saline stuff.

ME: Good. Okay.

NICK: WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO DAD???

ME: Hey, you know what? It’s totally okay. We’re gonna try to flush it out.

NICK’S GRANDMA: Here.

ME: Great. Okay, which side is the red thing on?

NICK: It went into this nose over here. Not the other nose.I was just holding it close to my nose, dad! And it sniffed up in my nose!

ME: What I want you to do is tilt your head and snort the water into the other nose. Can you do it?

NICK: Uh-huh.

ME: There you go. Good! Now tilt your head the other way and blow. There you go.

NICK: It didn’t come out, dad!!!

NICK’S GRANDMA: What did this thing look like?

NICK: It was from my art project at school.

NICK’S GRANDMA: Was it a piece of the red rice you used on this picture?

NICK: Yeah.

NICK’S GRANDMA: It was?

NICK: Yeah. Dad? I was just trying to smell it and it just jumped up my nose! Maybe it will just come out when I go to bed, dad!

NICK’S GRANDPA: All right. Nick, lie down. Grammy, get a flashlight.

NICK: How big are my sinuses dad?

ME: Just lie down, Nick.

NICK: Okay…OKAY…

NICK’S GRANDMA: Here’s the flashlight.

NICK’S GRANDPA: Let’s take a look here… Oh. I see something.

NICK: WHAT IS IT???

NICK;S GRANDPA: C’mere and look.

ME: Oh, wow. It’s huge. Hang on. I’ll go get some tweezers.

NICK’S GRANDPA: You just lie still, Nick.

NICK: So I just was sniffing it, okay? And it just got snuffed right up my nose! I didn’t mean to do it!

ME: Okay. Shine the light in there. I see it. It’s not too far…okay. Got it. It’s kinda stuck. THERE! Got it.

NICK’S GRANDPA: What is it?

ME: I don’t know. What the heck is this?

NICK: What is it, dad?

NICK’S GRANDMA: Let me see it. It’s squishy.

ME: Yeah, but it’s kind of hard in the middle.

NICK’S GRANDMA: Is it food?

ME: I don’t think so.

NICK’S GRANDPA: Is that paint on it? Or ink?

ME: It’s not coming off on my fingers.

NICK: Probly it’s just a thing.

ME: Wait…Nick, you made that Christmas ornament at school. With the picture of you as Rudolph.

NICK: Uh-huh.

ME: Is this the nose? Did it fall under the table while we were packing the ornaments away?

NICK: Yeah. That’s probly it.

ME: So you had Rudolph’s nose inside your nose.

NICK: Dad?

ME: Yeah.

NICK: Can we put it back on the ormament?

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT HIDE AND SEEK

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NICK: Daddy. Play Hide and Seek with me.

ME: You’re in the bathtub.

NICK: Play, daddy.

ME: You realize that you can’t actually leave the bathtub while we play. You have to hide somewhere in the bathtub.

NICK: Pretend, dad. Close the shower curtain and pretend to look for me.

ME: Okay. One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…niiiiiiine…TEN! Read or not here I come! Oh, look you’re in the bathtub.

NICK: NO! Walk around and say “Where is Nick? I don’t know where he is! Where is Nick.”

ME: Okay. “Where is Nick? I can’t find Nick!”

NICK: Now pick up my toys and say “Are you Nick? No you are not Nick! You’re a toy!”

ME: Hello, little army man. Are you Nick?

NICK: Make him talk, daddy. Make him say “I am not Nick. I don’t know where Nick is. He’s hiding!”

ME:” I am not Nick! I am an army man! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fight some insurgents!”

NICK: Now pick up all my toys and say “Where is Nick?”

ME: Which toys?

NICK: All of them.

ME: Nick…you have, like, a million toys in the bathroom. You want me to ask them all where you are?

NICK: Pretend, daddy.

ME: But I know where you are. You’re in the bathtub.

NICK: Pretend you don’t know. Pick up Spider-man and say “Where is Nick?” then go put him in my bed and stay in my room and look for me.

ME: But you’re not in your room.

NICK: Pretend. Look for me and say “Nick? Are you in your room?”

ME: You won’t even be able to hear me.

NICK: Do it, dad. Play.

ME: Okay. “Spider-man, have you seen Nick? Come with me to his room. Okay… HERE I AM IN NICK’S ROOM! I DON’T SEE HIM ANYWHERE! I’D CHECK THE BATHTUB BUT I KNOW HE’S NOT IN THERE!”

NICK: COME BACK, DAD!

ME: Yes?

NICK: Okay, now take Spider-man and put him in my bed and say “Where is Nick?” And then he wakes up and it’s morning and he has breakfast. But it’s Christmas and you can’t find me. But pretend to be mommy.

ME: Oh look. I found you in the bathtub.

NICK: NO! Do what I just said. Do the game I just said.

ME: I have no idea what you just said. Tell me again.

NICK: UUUUGGGGHHHH! Take Spider-man and say “Where’s Nick?” And make Spider-man say “I’m not Nick” and then you say “Then you have to go to bed!” And then be mommy and put Spider-man to bed and then say “You’re not Nick! Santa Claus is not gonna bring you anything!” and then Spider-man says “Waaaaa! Waaaaa!” and then you say “Okay! Where is Nick!” And then it’s morning and you’re mommy and you say “Wake up, Nick! Wake up, Nick!” and then you get up and eat something. Do it, daddy.

ME: Nick…oh, my God. I have no idea what you want me to do!

NICK: OH, MAN, OH MAN! I’M NEVER EVER GONNA GET TO PLAY THIS GAME IN MY WHOLE LIFE!!!!

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT WAR

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NICK: I WANNA WATCH TANKS ON YOUTUBE!

ME: *sigh* Okay. Here’s a video of toy tanks shooting paint balls at each other. This is a good one.

NICK: No! I wanna see toy tanks and they shoot paint balls at army men and cars that are going too fast!

ME: Tanks don’t really do that.

NICK: Dad? I wanna see real tanks roll over cars AND SHOOT THE BAD GUYS AFTER THE BAD GUYS ROBBED A BANK!

ME: You see…tanks don’t really do that kind of thing.

NICK: You can’t find ANYTHING on youtube!

ME: Hang on. I’ll find something.

NICK: GUNS! BULLETS! GUNS! BULLETS!

ME: Whose child are you?

NICK: Go back to the last thing! I want to see that one with the tank!

ME: Okay… this is a documentary about real tanks. I’ll start it but if it gets too violent, I’ll have to turn it off.

NICK: SHOOT THE TANKS FOR REAL! REAL TANKS!

ME: Okay. Here it is.

NICK: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

NICK: What is that tank?

ME: They said that’s a tank called “The Elephant.”

NICK: Is it a good guy?

ME: Tanks aren’t really good guys or bad guys. This is a tank that doesn’t work anymore that they’re trying to fix.

NICK: Why doesn’t it work?

ME: It was in a battle so it doesn’t work.

NICK: Did the good guys have it?

ME: Well, the German’s had it. And the Americans were in a war against the Germans.

NICK: Was Germany cheating???

ME: Yes.. They were trying to take everyone over so we went to war with them.

NICK: And then we got the tank!

ME: Yes.

NICK: Dad? Armies don’t really kill.

ME: Actually…yes they do.

NICK: They just kill bad guys.

ME: Not…not really. Good guys get killed too.

NICK: I WANNA GO IN THE ARMIES!

ME: I don’t want you to go in the army.

NICK: Why?

ME: I don’t want you to get hurt.

NICK: But dad… I won’t shoot anybody. I’ll go and I’ll tell the bad guys to stop shooting.

ME: That would be good if you could do that.

NICK: WHEN WE HAVE WAR WITH GERMANY AGAIN I WILL STOP THEM! BECAUSE I WILL STOP THEM SO THEY CAN’T TAKE OUR TANKS!

ME: Good idea.But we really don’t want to go to war. War is not good. It’s a very bad thing.

NICK: But America will always win.

ME: Not always.

NICK: Why?

ME: Sometimes America wins, sometimes it loses. Sometimes we say we win even win we lose.

NICK: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

NICK: America is very, very fragile.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT DENTAL HYGIENE

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NICK: I don’t want to brush my teeth.

ME: You have to.

NICK: I don’t want to.

ME: Here. You have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Toothpaste.

NICK: I’m too tired to brush my teeth.

ME: You are definitely going to want to use this toothpaste, though. Know why?

NICK: Why?

ME: Because it will turn you into a Ninja Turtle.

(long pause)

NICK: No it won’t.

ME: Swear to God. If you use this toothpaste, you will become a Ninja Turtle.

NICK: How?

ME: Look, I don’t know. I didn’t make the toothpaste, I just read it on the box. Every time you brush your teeth, you grow part of your shell. Want to brush your teeth?

NICK: Uh-huh!

ME: There you go. Get all of your teeth. Brush them good so you can grow your shell. Now spit it out.

NICK: *Ptuh!* Did I grow my shell dad?

ME: A little bit. I think a little bit of shell grows every time you brush your teeth. Where are you going?

NICK: I’m going to tell mom!

ME: Don’t run down the stairs!

NICK: MOM! I’M GONNA TURN INTO A NINJA TURTLE! WATCH ME DO A BACK FLIP!

ME: Nick. Wait! WAIT!

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT HOW HE HAS TO GO THE &%#*$@ TO SLEEP

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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.

NICK: How?

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!

ME: What?

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: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Can I come sit over there with you?

ME: Nick…

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?

ME: Yes.

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?

ME: Yes.

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?

NICK: Yeah.

ME: Of course I am. You okay?

NICK: Yeah. Daddy?

ME: Yes?

NICK: Thank you for taking care of me my whole life.

(long pause)

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: Dad?

ME: Yes.

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: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

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…

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT THE MOST TERRIFYING THING HE’S EVER SAID TO ME

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NICK: Daddy!

ME: Yes. Ow! Why are you squeezing my head??

NICK: (whispering) Daaaaaddddyyyy…

ME: Seriously, that hurts.

NICK: (whispering) I’m going to chop…offffff…yoooouuuuurrrr…heeeaaad!

ME: You’re going to chop off my head?

NICK: Yes! (slowly and quietly) Want to know why?

ME: Why?!

NICK: I have a head collection.

ME: You do?

NICK: Yes! And I will chop off your head and paint your body. Then I will chop off my own head and paint my own body. Then I will put my head on your body and your head on my body!

(Allison enters)

ALLISON: What are you guys doing?

NICK: I HAVE A HEAD COLLECTION!

ALLISON: You can’t have a head collection. There’s no room. Daddy has too many books.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

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We had a long car ride ahead of us and Nick wanted me to read to him. The only book I had was an adaptation of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. It was written for young readers and had lovely illustrations but was still a bit complicated for him. I had just bought it thinking that maybe we’d read it together in a few years. He wanted me to read it to him right then.

CHAPTER ONE: Marseilles

ME: “The sails of the Pharon shimmered in the winter sun as the ship came into Marseilles docks…”

NICK: Who’s that?

ME: Edmond Dantes.

NICK: Is he a good guy?

ME: Yes. He’s a good guy.

NICK: HE’S GONNA FIGHT THE BAD GUYS!

CHAPTER TWO: Conspiracy

ME: “Laughing, Edmond twirled Mercedes in his arms. He was so happy, in fact, that he failed to notice the jealous hatred in Fernand’s eyes.”

NICK: Is Fernand a bad guy?

ME: Yes. He wants Mercedes all to himself.

NICK: Edmond should punch him!

ME: Well Edmond doesn’t know Fernand is a bad guy yet. Fernand is going to try to send Edmond to jail.

NICK: WHAT???

ME: Yeah. Let’s keep reading…

NICK; But Edmond will tell everyone he’s a good guy and break out of prison and come back and THROW THE BAD GUY IN THE WATER!

CHAPTER FIVE – Escape from Chateau D’If

NICK: Did the old man die?

ME: Yes. The tunnel caved in on him while he and Edmond were breaking out of jail.

NICK: Did a rock fall on his head?

ME: Yes.

NICK: I SEE BLOOD!

ME: And now Edmond is pretending to be dead so they’ll carry him out of jail.

NICK: AND THEN HE CAN GO BACK AND THROW THE BAD GUY IN THE WATER!

ME: Eventually. But right now, everyone thinks that Edmond is a bad guy.

NICK: So you know what, daddy? He’s gonna wear a disguise so everyone thinks he’s someone else.

ME: How did you know that???

NICK: Yeah. So he has to put on his disguise.

ME: Seriously, how did you know that???

NICK: Read some more, dad.

CHAPTER TEN – The Roman Catacombs

NICK: Is this the other bad guy?

ME: Yes. This is Danglars.

NICK: Does the good guy have on his disguise?

ME: Yes. He’s disguised as the Count of Monte Cristo.

NICK: IS HE GONNA THROW THE BAD GUY IN THE WATER?

ME: No. He’s putting him in jail and making him pay money for his food.

NICK: WHAT???

ME: Danglars put Edmond in jail, so now Edmond put Danglars in jail.

NICK: AND HE HAS TO PAY FOR FOOD?

ME: Yes.

NICK: WHY DOESN’T HE JUST THROW HIM IN THE WATER?

ME: I don’t know.

CHAPTER 12 – Duel in the Park

NICK: What’s a duel?

ME: Well…um…Edmond and Fernand’s son are going to shoot at each other.

NICK: WITH GUNS??

ME: They have pistols, yes.

NICK: Water pistols? That’s not bad, dad. Know what? You can’t kill anyone with a water pistol.

ME: These are real pistols. They’re old fashioned pistols.

NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Are they gonna go shoot buffalo?

ME: Huh?

NICK: In the old days, people used to take pistols and shoot buffalo. And you know what? They would fight the buffalo and eat the buffalo.

ME: That’s not really what these guys are doing.

NICK: In the old days there would be a whole lot of buffalo. And they would shoot at them! And then they would eat them like hamburger!

ME: Well, Edmond has decided that he doesn’t want revenge anymore.

NICK: He’s not gonna throw him in the water???

ME: No.

NICK: Does he take off his disguise?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Do they ever fight with swords?

ME: Not in this version I guess.

NICK: Do you eat buffalo?

ME: Sometimes.

NICK: I’m hungry.

ME: Want me to keep reading?

NICK: Okay, I WANT THEM TO SHOOT EACH OTHER!

ME: Well, they’re not going to. Because Edmond has realized that he doesn’t want revenge anymore and doesn’t want to shoot anyone.

(pause)

NICK: Are we almost home?

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT WHERE I’VE LIVED

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NICK: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Talk about where you lived in St. Louis.

ME: Okay. Well… I actually lived in a town called Lake St. Louis. It was close to St. Louis.

NICK: Then where?

ME: Then I moved to Kansas City to go to college.

NICK; Then where?

ME: Then I went to grad school in Pittsburgh.

NICK: Then where?

ME: Then I moved to Chicago.

NICK; Then where?

ME: Then I moved here to New Jersey.

NICK: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Did St. Louis blow up?

ME: No.

NICK: Did Chicago blow up?

ME: Nope.

NICK: Did Pittsburgh ever blow up?

ME: No. No place that I’ve ever lived has ever blown up.

NICK: Why?

ME: I dunno. Just lucky.

CONVERVATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT BATMAN

Happy 2015! For those of you new to the blog, this is where I write silly nonsense, overheard conversations or ten minute plays. Mostly, though, I chronicle the conversations that I’ve been having with my son Nicholas, who is now four and a half years old. This one happened tonight…

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NICK: COME ON, ROBIN!!!

ME: Where we going, Batman? IT’S TIME FOR YOUR BATH!

NICK: I KNOW! COME ON! WE HAVE TO FIGHT CRIME IN THE BATHROOM!

ME: Right behind you!

NICK: Okay. Ssssh! Be quiet, Robin. All the bad guys are here in the bathroom.

ME: Should we call Commissioner Gordon?

NICK: No. He’s not home.

ME: Where is he?

NICK: His grammy passed away.

ME: Oh… I’m so sorry to hear that.

NICK: She didn’t die. She just moved. She has a house underwater. But she doesn’t have any clothes or a bathing suit. So he’s taking clothes to her.

ME: Ah. So Commissioner Gordon is traveling underwater to bring a swimsuit to his naked grandma.

NICK: YES!

ME: So we shouldn’t bother him, then.

NICK: OKAY!

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK IN THE CAR

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NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Does everyone have a butt?

ME: Yes.

NICK: No, dad.

ME: Yes. I’m completely sure that everyone has a butt. Everyone is born with a butt.

NICK: No, dad. Not everyone has a butt.

ME: Yes they do.

NICK: Some people don’t have a butt and they poop out their penis.

ME: That’s absolutely not true. You can’t poop out your penis and everyone has a butt.

NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Are you speeding?

ME: I’m going three miles over the speed limit.

NICK: If your car breaks down and the police come I will jump out of the car and run to gramma’s as fast as a cheetah.

ME: Okay.

NICK: Look at all those geese!

ME: Wow. That is a lot of geese.

NICK: There are ten.

ME: Oh, there are way more than ten geese there.

NICK: No, dad. There are ten.

ME: More than ten. Like fifty.

NICK: NO, DAD THERE’S ONLY ONE GEESE! ONE AND ONE HALF AND ONE QUARTER!

ME: Yep.

NICK: Dad, I’m gonna tell a joke.

ME: Go for it.

NICK: WATER CHIMP!

ME: What does that mean?

NICK: Water chimp.

ME: What’s a water chimp?

NICK: It’s a joke I made up.

ME: Like…is it a monkey that swims?

NICK: It’s just water chimp.

ME: I don’t get it.

NICK: It’s a joke.

ME: How is it a joke? How is water chimp a joke. Is that what you’re saying? “Water chimp?”

NICK: Dad.

ME: Yes?

NICK: See that building?

ME: The one right in front of us?

NICK: Yes. Where is that building?

ME: It’s right in front of us.

NICK: Is it in New Jersey?

ME: Yes. We’re in New Jersey so the building is in New Jersey.

NICK: Right now?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Is it on the Atlantic ocean?

ME: No.

NICK: Why?

ME: Because we’re not on the ocean right now and that building is right here and right here is not near the ocean.

NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Do you always have a butt?

ME: Yes. Always.