CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT DEAD PEOPLE

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NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Have you ever seen anybody die?

ME: Hmmm…No, I haven’t. I’ve never watched anyone die.

NICK: Have you seen people that were already dead?

ME: Yeah. Like at funerals and things.

NICK: What’s that?

ME: Well, when someone dies they put them in a kind of box. It’s like a little bed. And then people look at the person and they say goodbye.

NICK: You saw them?

ME: Several times, yeah.

NICK: Tell me what their skeletons looked like.

ME: I didn’t see their skeletons. They still have their skin and everything.

NICK: What do you see?

ME: They have clothes on. They just look like their sleeping.

NICK: But they’re dead.

ME: Yeah.

NICK: Dad? I’m scared of things that could kill you.

ME: Like what?

NICK: Meteorites.

ME: You don’t have to be scared of meteorites.

NICK: That’s what killed the dinosaurs. And the book says that the meteorites will come again.

ME: Maybe, but not for a really, really long time. Long after we’re all gone.

NICK: We’ll be dead?

ME: Yeah.

NICK: Yeah. And probly all our friends and everyone in our family will be dead.

ME: Yeah.

NICK: And probly even everyone from my t-ball team will be dead.

ME: Yes.

NICK: So I shouldn’t be afraid of meteorites.

ME: No.

NICK: I’m not afraid of them, then.

ME: That’s good because I’m kind of a basket case, right now.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT THE GOOD JOB HE DID

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ALLISON: Nick?

NICK: Mmm-hmm.

ALLISON: I just want to tell you something.

NICK: Mmm-hmm.

ALLISON: I watched you at school after I dropped you off this morning. And you remember how all the boys were in the group playing with the Bristle Blocks?

NICK: Yeah.

ALLISON: Well I thought you did a really good job working your way into the group. Everyone was playing by themselves and you just went right up and asked if you could play and you joined the group and played right along with them. You know?

NICK: Uh-huh.

ALLISON: Well that was really good! You didn’t get upset because you couldn’t figure out what to do. You figured out how to join the group.

NICK: Yeah.

ALLISON: That can be really hard to do, sometimes, but you did a good job.

NICK: Then can I have a doughnut?

ALLISON: No. Sometimes, we do good things just for the sake of doing good things. There doesn’t have to be a reward for everything. Sometimes figuring out the right thing to do is your reward.

NICK: No, I want a doughnut.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT HOW HE’S A STATUE

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NICK: Daddy! Come here!

ME: What do you – whoa. Okay. You’re naked and sitting on the toilet with a toy rifle*.

NICK: Come here!

ME: Are you okay?

NICK: I have a joke!

ME: I’m terrified. What’s the joke?

NICK: Go get mommy and tell her you have a present for her and then bring her here and say “surprise” and tell her I’m a new toy.

ME: This is a great idea. Allison?

ALLISON: What?

ME: Come here, please.

ALLISON: What is – whoa. Okay. You’re all naked on the potty, buddy.

ME: And he has a rifle.

ALLISON: And he has a rifle. Why is he so still? He’s not moving.

ME: Allison! Look! I have a surprise for you!

ALLISON: I love surprises! Whatever could it be?

ME: This is your new toy! It’s a statue!

ALLISON: I love statues! Did you make it?

ME: Yes! Carved it myself. I call it…”Naked boy on potty with rifle!”

ALLISON: It’s so life-like!

NICK: SURPRISE!!!!

ALLISON: Oh my God! The statue talked!

NICK: IT’S ME, MOM! IT’S NICK!

ALLISON: Nick? I’m so shocked and pleased!

NICK: Okay, daddy? Do it again. Mommy, go out and daddy bring her in and say “I have a new toy for you.”

ME: Okay.

ALLISON: I’ll go back to my office.

ME: Cool. Okay. Allison! Come here!

ALLISON: What is it? I – Goodness! It’s a naked boy on the potty with a rifle!

ME: It’s your new toy!

NICK: Tee-hee-hee.

ALLISON: A new toy? Is it a statue?

NICK: Hee-hee-hee…

ME: It is. I call it “Nude boy with rifle!”

NICK: Hee-hee-hee-hee-hee…

ALLISON: It’s moving! It almost looks like it’s laughing!

NICK: Hee-hee-hee-heeheeheeheehee!

ME: I made it that way. It’s a laughing nude boy rifle statue!

NICK: HAHAHAHAHAHA! YOU GUYS ARE CRACKING ME OUT!

*It’s not a real-looking rifle. It’s a carved piece of wood in a sort-of gun shape. He got it from the Old Barracks in Trenton. So just settle down.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT T-BALL AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

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NICK: Daddy?

ME: Yes.

NICK: I want a trophy.

ME: A trophy. You mean like the kind you saw at t-ball practice?

NICK: Yeah.

ME: Those are really big trophies.

NICK: Yeah! Can I get one today?

ME: No. Those are for the little league team. They’re a bit older than you. You have to play t-ball, first and then you can play baseball when you get older.

NICK: I want a trophy.

ME: Well…it takes practice, bud. You have to practice and work and get good at something before you get –

NICK: CAN WE GO OUTSIDE?

ME: Uh…I guess. Why?

NICK: I HEAR MY GUYS OUTSIDE!

ME: Oh. You mean Janie and Paula? They might just be playing on their porch, buddy. They don’t always come outside in the yard and play.

NICK: I WANNA GO OUTSIDE! MAYBE THEY’LL SEE ME AND COME OUT AND PLAY!

ME: Uh…okay…I just…you know they might be doing a family activity and if that’s the case we don’t want to interrupt –

NICK: I WANNA GO OUTSIDE!

ME: Okay. Okay…Wait! Don’t just run outside! Wait until I…!

NICK: (outside) HEY, YOU GUYS!

JANIE: Hi, Nick!

(long pause)

ME: What are they doing?

NICK: They’re just playing on the porch. They won’t come outside.

ME: Yeah. It looks like their grandpa is visiting. Let’s not bother them if they’re spending time with their grandpa.

NICK: Oh, maaaan…Can’t I just go over there?

ME: No. The door to their porch is closed, Nick. They’re on the other side of the fence. If you went in there, it would be like just walking into their house.

NICK: Oh, maaaaan…

ME: I know, buddy. You can play with them some other time.

NICK: But…but…

ME: Oh, bud. You don’t need to cry. It’s okay.

NICK: I just wanted to play with them.

ME: I know.

NICK: Because I never get to play with them.

ME: You do sometimes. But look…Janie is a little older than you. She’s seven. So sometimes she has to do things that seven year-olds do, you know?

NICK: But I don’t have anyone to play with.

ME: You can play with them later. Some other day.

NICK: But I want to play now.

ME: Nick…don’t cry. It’s really…it’s okay…

JANIE: Hey, Nick!

(pause)

ME: Say hi.

NICK: Hi.

JANIE: If I throw the ball over the fence, you catch it and then throw it to me over the fence!

NICK: Okay!

JANIE: Here!

(Throws ball over fence)

JANIE: Did you see it?

NICK: Yeah!

JANIE: Throw it back!

NICK: Okay!

JANIE: Hang on! I’m gonna stand on this thing so I can see you over the fence!

NICK: Okay!

JANIE: Hi, Nick!

NICK: Hi! Do you want to see something?

JANIE: Okay!

NICK: I have to go get a thing!

ME: Nick, where are you going…? Uh…Hi, Janie.

JANIE: Hi.

ME: Nick is just going to our porch to get…something…I don’t know…

NICK: I’m getting my t-ball stuff!

ME: Oh.

NICK: Wanna see me hit the ball?

JANIE: Yeah!

(Nick sets up tee, puts ball on tee)

JANIE: I’ll cheer for you! Yay! Go, Nick! Go, Nick!

(Nick hits ball off tee)

JANIE: Yay!

NICK: I’m really, really awesome at it!

JANIE: I know! C’mere!

NICK: What?

JANIE: C’mere! I wanna give you a pine cone!

NICK: Okay.

JANIE: Here it is! Here’s your pine cone!

NICK: Thanks.

JANIE: I gotta go in, now. Bye!

NICK: Bye!

ME: Well. How ’bout that?

NICK: Got a trophy.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT EASTER

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NICK: Mom?

ALLISON: Yes?

NICK: Is Easter coming?

ALLISON: Yes. It’s this Sunday.

NICK: Can we do something on Easter?

ALLISON: Sure. What do you want to do?

NICK: Shake my booty.

ALLISON: You want to shake your booty?

NICK: Yeah. I want to shake my booty at you and then you shake your booty at daddy and then daddy shakes his booty at me.

ALLISON: It’s kind of rude to shake your booty AT people. Maybe we could just all shake our booties at the same time but not AT one another.

NICK: Can we do that mom?

ALLISON: Yep. We’ll all shake our booties.

NICK: On Easter?

ALLISON: Sure. Jesus will love that.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT HIS FEVER

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ME: What’s his temp?

ALLISON: 103.

ME: Oh, man.

ALLISON: No strep, the doctor said. I gave him some Ibuprofen. Just have to wait it out.

ME: How you feeling, buddy?

NICK: Daddy? Everything feels all crazy.

ME: That’s cause you have a fever, bud.

NICK: I can’t walk because I feel all wobbly.

ME: Yeah. Don’t worry. You’ll get better.

NICK: Why am I so sick forever?

ALLISON: You won’t be sick forever. You just have to rest.

NICK: My head hurts. I’m hot.

ME: It’s gonna be okay, buddy.

NICK: Why do I have to be sick?

ALLISON: Do you want a cold cloth for your head?

NICK: Uh-huh. When am I gonna get better?

ALLISON: Probably tomorrow. But wait a bit for the medicine to start working. You should feel a little better in a few minutes.

(A few minutes later)

NICK: WRESTLE ME, DAD!

ME: Nick, I can’t wrestle you. You’re sick. You need to settle down.

NICK: WRESTLE ME IF YOU LOVE ME!

Allison: Nick, seriously… you feel better because the medicine made your fever go down. But you’re not better yet.

NICK: PUT ON MY BATMAN RAINCOAT SO I CAN FLY!

ME: Nick, seriously… what is he doing?

ALLISON: Running back and forth down the hallway as fast as he can.

ME: I can see that. I thought maybe there was some reason behind it.

ALLISON: Nope.

ME: Nick, you’re sick. Settle down.

NICK: THROW ME IN THE LAVA IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME! THROW ME IN THE LAVA IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME!

ME: Nick, seriously…stop crawling on me.

NICK: *COUGH* *COUGH*

ME: He coughed in my eyes. I’m going to get sick. He coughed in my eyes!

ALLISON: Go! Go wash your eyes!

NICK: THROW ME IN THE LAVA IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME! THROW ME IN THE LAVA IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME! THROW ME IN THE LAVA IF YOU DON’T LIKE ME!

ME: Do you think maybe we should just let his fever go back up?

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT WHY HE SHOULD DO WHAT HIS MOTHER SAYS

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ALLISON: Nick, do NOT play with your toy soldier on the computer. Computers are fragile. Do it again and I will throw the soldier away.

NICK: (plays with his toy soldier on the computer)

ALLISON: Nick! What did I just tell you? Give me that.

NICK: NOOOOOO!

ALLISON: Now I have to throw it away.

NICK: DON’T THROW IT AWAY MOMMY!!!!

ALLISON: Why did you do what I told you not to do?

NICK: CAN I HAVE IT BACK?

ALLISON: Well, I don’t know. Answer my question. Why did you bang the soldier on the computer after I told you not to?

NICK: I DIDN’T BANG IT, MOMMY!

ALLISON: Yes you did. You banged it on the computer.

NICK: NO! IT DIDN’T MAKE A BANG SOUND! I PUT IT DOWN GENTLY!

ALLISON: No, you didn’t. And besides, you’re missing the point. You did something after I told you not to do it.

NICK: Can I have my soldier back?

ALLISON: No. I guess I won’t throw it away but you can’t have it back until tonight.

NICK: BUT I HAVE TO BUILD A HOUSE AND THE OTHER SOLDIERS ARE TOO BIG FOR THE HOUSE!

ALLISON: You should have thought about that before. Now why did you do something I told you not to do?

NICK: I’m sorry, mommy.

ALLISON: Sorry for what? I want you to say what you’re sorry for.

NICK: But mommy, listen, listen, listen. I need the soldier because if you take it away forever I won’t be able to play with it for forever!

ALLISON: We’re not talking about the soldier right now.

NICK: BUT MOM ARE YOU JUST GONNA TAKE IT AWAY FOREVER???

ALLISON: No. I told you I’d give it back tonight.

NICK: HOW MANY HOURS?

ALLISON: Stop talking about the soldier. I want you to understand what you did wrong.

NICK: I KNOW, MOM! DON’T MAKE ME KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT!

ALLISON: What did you do wrong?

NICK: Mom…listen…listen. I didn’t mean to but my arm just put the soldier on the computer.

ALLISON: You have control over your arm.

NICK: NO I DON’T! I REALLY, REALLY DON’T!

ALLISON: Yes you do, Nick. Your brain controls your arm. You control your arms with your brain.

NICK: NO I DON’T! MY BONE CONTROLS MY ARM! MY BRAIN DOESN’T HAVE A BONE! HOW CAN MY BRAIN CONTROL MY ARM IF IT DOESN’T HAVE A BONE? IT DOESN’T HAVE A BONE, MOM!

ALLISON: Listen to me, Nick. You can control your arm. You control what you do with your arms.

NICK: NO I CAN’T MOM! I REALLY CAN’T!

ALLISON: Nick, I need you to take responsibility for what you did.

NICK: Can I have my soldier back?

ALLISON: Not until tonight.

NICK: HOW MANY HOURS OR TEN MINUTES?

ALLISON: Nicholas, you did something I told you not to do and you didn’t listen to me.

NICK: Okay.

ALLISON: So please admit that you did something wrong.

NICK: Okay.

ALLISON: What did you do wrong.

NICK: BUT MOM, MY BRAIN REALLY REALLY DIDN’T –

ALLISON: Stop it, stop it. You did something I told you not to do and you didn’t listen to me. Right?

NICK: Okay.

ALLISON: So please take responsibility for your actions.

NICK: Okay.

ALLISON: So apologize.

NICK: I’m sorry.

ALLISON: For…

NICK: BUT MOM I DIDN’T BANG IT ON THE COMPUTER I DID IT VERY GENTLY BECAUSE IT’S FRAGILE AND MY BONE MADE MY ARM MOVE AND MY BRAIN REALLY, REALLY CAN’T CONTROL IT!

ALLISON: Oh, my God. Do you want your soldier back or don’t you?

NICK: Yes!

ALLISON: Then you have to admit what you did wrong.

NICK: I banged it on the computer BUT I REALLY COULDN’T HELP IT BECAUSE I’M SICK AND I JUST NEED A NAP BECAUSE I’M SO TIRED!

ALLISON: Holy cow.

NICK: ARE YOU MAD AT ME?

ALLISON: I’m not mad at you.

NICK: Mom?

ALLISON: What?

NICK: If I get back my soldier at night I’ll be in bed and I might roll on it while I’m sleeping so maybe I could have it in the afternoon.

ALLISON: Nick…

NICK: AAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH! STOP LAUGHING AT ME!!!!!

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT WEARING UNDERWEAR IN THE BATHTUB

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ALLISON: Nick…did you just change all your clothes?

NICK: Yes.

ALLISON: Why?

NICK: I was tired of my other clothes.

ALLISON: Oh. Well it’s time for your bath so now you have to take them off again.

NICK: Okay.

ALLISON: Here…I’ll turn on your bath water and be back in a minute.j

(one minute later)

ALLISON: Nick?

NICK: What?

ALLISON: Are you sitting in the bathtub in your underwear?

NICK: Yeah.

ALLISON: Why?

NICK: I wanted to.

ALLISON: But now you’re wearing soaking wet underwear.

NICK: Tell dad to come upstairs and see me while I have on my underwear in the bathtub.

ALLISON: Why don’t I just tell him to come up and he can see for himself.

NICK: Okay.

ALLISON: DADDY? YOU DOWN THERE? NICK WANTS TO SEE YOU!

(Enter ME)

ME: Hey, guys. Uh…is Nick wearing his underwear in the bathtub?

NICK: Uh-huh.

ALLISON: He wanted to show you.

NICK: I have on my underwear but it feels like I’m nakee.

ALLISON: You wash him up. I’ll be back in a bit.

(Exit ALLISON)

ME: Okay, dude. Let’s wash up. Whoa. Why are you so squirmy? Hold still.

NICK: I’m in my underwear, daddy!

ME: I know. Why did you do that?

NICK: I’m Psychotic Boy.

ME: That is absolutely true.

NICK: Psychotic Boy!

ME: Now, you’re gonna have to take those off so you can get clean.

NICK: No!

ME: Come on, Nick. Take them off.

NICK: NO! NO! NO!

ME: Wait…where are you…get back in the tub!

NICK: HAHAHAHAHA!

ME: What are you…? Okay…good…take off your underpants…

NICK: WET UNDERPANTS!

ME: Good. Now get back in the…Nick…come on. Do not fling your wet underpants around! You’re getting everything wet!

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY!

ME: Nick. Seriously. Get back in the tub. Where are you going???

(NICK runs up and down the hall, flinging his wet underpants around)

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY!

ME: Nick! We have to finish your bath! Nick!

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY!

(Enter ALLISON)

ALLISON: Why is Nick running up and down the hall naked and screaming “Psychotic Boy?”

ME: I don’t..I can’t even…

ALLISON: Did he bathe?

ME: Kind of. Not really.

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY!

ALLISON: What’s wrong with him do you think?

ME: I don’t know what you’re talking about. He’s perfectly normal.

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY!

ALLISON: How did he learn the word “psychotic?”

ME: No idea.

ALLISON: To be fair, I prefer this to a temper tantrum.

ME: Totally.

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY!

ALLISON: But I suppose we’ll have to stop him eventually.

ME: Eventually. Not yet. I want to see how this plays out.

NICK: PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY! PSYCHOTIC BOY!

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT WHY YOU SHOULDN’T STEAL THINGS

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NICK: I wanna go home.

ME: We will. This won’t take long.

NICK: Why did we have to come back in the store?

ME: Because I found an onion in my pocket.

NICK: How the onion get in your pocket?

ME: I guess I put it there.

NICK: Why?

ME: Well… I didn’t mean to. I guess I picked it up and put it in my pocket and then we paid for all the groceries but I didn’t pay for the onion and I didn’t notice I had it until all the bags were in the trunk.

NICK: This line is so long!

ME: I know, bud, but I have to pay for this onion because you don’t just take things from the supermarket without paying. That’s stealing. And I want you to learn that.

NICK: But I’m tired.

ME: I know, bud, but I remember when my grandpa accidentally took a box of Jello and put it in his pocket and the next day he made me go with him to the store to pay for it and it left a big impression. So when I found the onion, I thought this would be a good chance to provide a…you know…good example for you.

NICK: Oh my Gosh what are you talking so much about?

ME: Nick, I just –

CASHIER: Coupons? Rain check?

ME: No, I –

CASHIER: Saver Card?

ME: No, actually I just…here’s what happened…I got outside and noticed that I hadn’t paid for this onion. I put it in my pocket.

CASHIER: So you came all the way back in to pay for it?

ME: Yes.

CASHIER: (sees Nick) Hello there!

NICK: Hi. Know what? My dad took an onion.

CASHIER: Well it’s a good thing he brought it back! That will be ninety-four cents.

ME: Thanks. Okay, buddy. Now we can go.

NICK: Dad, are you a robber?

ME: Not really. It was an accident. But if I had just left without paying even though I knew I should have, then I would be a robber.

NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Do you know any robbers?

ME: Well…um…yes, I do.

NICK: Tell me their names.

ME: Oh…uh…okay (I tell him their names)

NICK: What did they steal?

ME: Well, they stole…money…and things.

NICK: Did they go to jail?

ME: Yes. A couple of them went to jail for a very long time.

NICK: For robbing?

ME: Well…not exactly… they…you know…they hurt people. I don’t know if I should be telling you this.

NICK: They hurt people?

ME: Yes.

NICK: With punching, with swords or with guns?

ME: With punching and with guns.

NICK: Dad! How did they punch if they had guns?

ME: I don’t –

NICK: You can’t punch at the same time as you have guns in your hands!

ME: Right, right. Anyway, they hurt people and went to jail.

NICK: Forever?

ME: One was in jail for many, many years and one will probably be there forever. Nick, I don’t know if I should –

NICK: But you’re not going to jail.

ME: Right.

NICK: Because you paid for it.

ME: Right.

NICK: Yeah. And it was just an onion.

CONVERSATIONS WITH NICK ABOUT COOPERATION

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NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: Let me hold Jessie’s leash.

ME: Don’t, buddy. Because she’s really pulling a lot and I don’t want her to pull you over onto the sidewalk.

NICK: But I want to help you walk her.

ME: I know, but…Nick…seriously. Let go of the leash.

NICK: I’m helping you walk Jessie.

ME: I know. But she’s running all over the place and…Nick…really…let go of the leash.

NICK: I’m helping.

ME: It’s not helping. It’s making it worse. Let go.

NICK: Let me help.

ME: No. Nick –

NICK: I want to.

ME: Nick, I said no.

NICK: But I want to.

ME: No Nick.

NICK: I want to, daddy.

ME: NO, NICK! Stop it! Why are you doing that? Cooperate with me, okay?? Do what I tell you to do!

NICK: Dad –

ME: Don’t “dad” me! I told you to let go and you refused! You have to do what I tell you to do! She could have pulled you over and it’s too dangerous! Stop ignoring me when I tell you to do something! You have to learn how to cooperate better! I’m so tired of this!

(Pause)

NICK: Okay.

ME: Come on. It’s cold. Let’s go home.

(Pause)

NICK: If you don’t like me anymore, dad, that’s okay.

ME: Nick…of course I… I love you, okay? I just… that was really frustrating.

NICK: Okay.

ME: I’m sorry I yelled.

NICK: Okay. Sorry, dad.

ME: Okay. Want to hold my hand?

NICK: Yeah.

ME: Let’s go home, okay?

NICK: Okay.

(long pause)

NICK: Dad?

ME: Yes.

NICK: You know in “Cars 2” when Luigi’s face gets all big and crazy?

ME: Why does his face get all crazy?

NICK: Because Tomater is leaving and so Luigi cries.

ME: Why does he cry?

NICK: Because he’s thinking about how he doesn’t want him to leave and he loves him and doesn’t ever want him to go.