When Nick’s not at preschool (15 very brief hours a week) or on a weekend adventure with dad and Jesse, he’s with me. He follows me around wherever I go, so I call him my third butt cheek. He doesn’t seem to mind, and it’s got to be better than Poopoo Boy, which is what I called him before he potty trained. It’s good to be loved by me.
Nick has a powerful imagination, and an emphatic persistence that can break anyone down. Here’s an approximation of what it’s like to hang out with Nick for any length of time.
Will you play with me? Mommy will you play with me? Let’s play with hard buddies. Do you want to play dragons or dinosaurs? Okay! Do you want to be electrocution dragon or 3-headed dragon?
Why do you call him that, Nick? He has 5 heads.
I dunno. That’s his name. So do you want to be 3-headed dragon? Okay! Are you a good guy or a mean guy? Do you want to be the good guy?
Nick, I don’t want to play dying games today. Can we do no killing, and no eating prey?
Okay mommy. There will be NO turning to dust in my game today. Here comes the mean guy giant squid, GRRRWWAAAH. He is stealing your babies! He is going to eat them! Electrocute him! PHHWWGGAAAA!! You defeated him!
(10 endless minutes later:) I’m going to get some coffee. I’ll be right back.
Mommy? Mommy? Where are you? Will you play with me? Here is electrocution dragon. Now let’s have races. These snakes are The POWERS, and if you hit them you will be turned into a power. So now, wait, waaaait. I will race first. PHRAAAAGFAA, I hit the snake and now (he rummages through his mythical creatures bucket), I am a GRIFFIN! Do you see mommy? Isn’t that amazing? Okay it’s your turn.
(15 minutes into this inane game:) Do you want to play with your iPad, Nick?
Yeah!! Where is it? Mommy can you come upstairs with me to get it? I’m scared.
No. Man up. I’m checking my emails.
(3 minutes later:) Mommy, can you help me? I need more ducks to unlock the next levels. I cannot do it, I don’t know how.
Play something different then.
Pleeeease?? Mommy, can you find me the show where the people become DINOSAURS?? I’m hungry and thirsty. Can I have pirate booty and apple juice?
(5 minutes later, post-snack:) Okay mommy, let’s play dragons now. Here is electrocution dragon. He will be the bad guy. Where is my tiny Yoda? He will be captured, and you have to rescue him with the angry birds.
(20 minutes into this vapid game:) I’m gonna do some laundry, Nick.
Can I come with you? Will you play with me mommy? When will you be done working? When you are done, will you play with me? Do you want to put on a timer, and when it is done you can play with me?
(Post-laundry:) Do you want to read a book, Nick?
Ummmm, noooo, not really… I know! Read this to me! (He presents a massive dinosaur encyclopedia). Read EVERY PAGE, mommy.
(15 minutes and 32 dinosaurs later:) Mommy, here is electrocution dragon. You be the good guy. Mommy? Why are you putting the pillow on your head?
I don’t want to play dragons anymore, Nick.
Okay. Uuh, I know! Let’s play DINOSAURS instead! Here, you be the long necks, and I am the giganotasaurus. GGGRRRAAAWWRRRRAA! (He arranges a dozen dino figurines around the prone body of a brachiosaurus.) Look mommy, he caught the long neck and now all the predators are eating.
Nick, I said I don’t want to play dying and eating prey games today.
(He looks at me like I’m simple, shrugs with his hands turned up in dramatic frustration.) But mommy. They are meat eaters.
Nick, what if today we practice drawing or writing your name? You could color!
Nooo, I don’t think so, mommy.
I don’t want to play hard buddies anymore. Don’t you ever get bored?
No. Hmmm. I know mommy. What if we play race cars! If you hit the snake with your race car, then you will be UPGRADED and become an angry bird!
Okay pause the game, mommy, I have to go potty. It is an EMERGENCY! Can you come with me mommy? I have to poop. Does the seat go up or down? I forgot. Help with my pants, it’s an EMERGENCY! Mommy can you stay with me while I poop? I need privacy so please close the door. But don’t leave. Mommy? Are you still there? Wow that is a really really big poop. The water splashed on my butt, mommy, is that okay? Mommy, I’m all done. Now you can wipe my butt.
Mommy pull up my pants. Okay, unfreeze the game. Do you want to be upgraded to an angry bird?
EE TEE SEE EE TEE SEE. Reality is both more annoying (because the quantity of Nick is immense) and more cute (because his “R”s and “L”s still sound more like “W”s).
Nick is so ridiculously cheerful most of the time. He’s grown up in the shadow of Jesse’s dark moods, giving up a lot of attention to her sometimes desperate needs. He’s displayed a patience and innate goodness that I never expected in such a little person, and he’s a huge part of her healing. So I feel somehow duty-bound to spend these hours with him while Jesse’s at school, indulging his beautiful imagination beyond all reasonable boundaries of my own patience and boredom.
My brain is atrophying in ways I never imagined, but I suppose it’s growing new pathways too. Before Nick, I never would have thought of doing what I’m going to do now: I’m going to make a phalanx of dragons protecting their play-do eggs, and then I’m going to grab the hot wheels car launcher I poached off a racing loop Santa brought, and I’ll shoot cars through the air at the dragons, who will be protected by a force field wall that keeps them safe. Nick just added that the stretchy rubber butterflies will also attack and anything they touch will BURN. The Pilates ball is a giant mountain in the way! Total bedlam.
Nick and I can keep this game up for at least an hour, if I have the stamina for it. It sucks, AND it’s awesome.