My brother, Tony, brought Alex — the youngest of his two sons — to work this morning. I entertained him for a while. Or, rather, he entertained me.
Alex comes into my office, wearing his Gap-brand child’s hoodie. I shake my head. He’s three-years-old and already a slave to fashion.
Alex: I’ve got a candy in my mouth and in my pocket
Me: You have two candies?
Alex: I have a blue one. In my mouth
Me: What flavor is it
Alex: It’s blue (Accidentally spits it onto the ground. It’s covered with dirt.)
Me: (Loudly, so Tony can hear.) Quick. You’ve only got five seconds. Pick it up and put it in your mouth.
Alex: It’s yicky.
Me: Nah, it’s okay. It was only on the floor for two seconds, tops.
Me: What are you doing here today?
Alex: (Pointing at the floor, which is bare plywood.) We just colored on that. (He and his brother, Michael, have colored on it many times in the past.)
Me: What are you doing here today, Alex?
Me: And what will you do later?
Alex: Dad said I can do mumble. (Grins.)
Me: Do what?
Me: Do what?
Alex: (Pointing at my breakfast bowl.) What’s this?
Me: It’s a bowl. What does it look like?
Alex: Frosting. (Pause.) There’s a bug in it. There’s an ant. There’s an ant at your house. There’s one right there.
Me: Let’s see. Oh, there is. Gross.
Alex: (Urgently.) You’ve got to get him. His touch is yicky. Yick. I’ve gotta tell Daddy. I’ve gotta tell daddy there’s an ant. (Runs from my office, shouting—) Dad, there’s an ant in his house!
Me: Are you going to come over to my house tomorrow?
Me: Are you?
Me: What are you going to do at my house?
Alex: Just play toys.
Me: Tony, are your kids coming over tomorrow?
Tony: For the chicken fest?
Me: (Indignant.) Chicken noodle fest.
Tony: Uh — hadn’t planned on it.
Me: Why not?
Tony: They’ll break your stuff, dude.
Me: Do you think they’ll be the only kids there?
Tony: The only destructive ones.
Alex: Only me here. I’m the only one.
Me: Come on. (Peer-pressure voice.) Everyone will be there.
Tony: Is Jeff going to be there?
Tony: There you go. Alex’ll be pushing Noah down the stairs. Alex doesn’t like babies.
Me: Neither does Emma. They could team up. They’d beat up all the other kids.
Tony: Ha. There you go. Tell me what time you want people to leave, and I’ll bring my kids over then.
Alex: (Panicked, feeling inside his pocket) I don’t feel candy. (Relieved) Yes I do.
Alex: (Comes in, carrying a huge bottle of water that Nick has poured for him) Lookit! This is Big Water.
Me: Yes it is.
Alex: This is Big Water.
Me: I’ll give you a box of candy if you drink all that water.
Tony: Alex, can you sing that song?
Nick: There’s a Big Water song?
Alex: (Singing) Big big wahteh, big gibberish.
Me: Do you wanna go for a walk?
Alex: Yeah, let’s go outside.
Me: Look, your Uncle Jeff is burning a fire. Do you wanna go see?
(We walk out to the burn pile.)
Jeff: Your mom and dad sure had a lot of stuff to burn. It made a lot of black smoke.
Alex: It’s really hot.
Me: Fire is like that.
Jeff: The black smoke was probably shoes. (No, I don’t get it either.)
(Alex asks to be taken inside the shop where the guys are making boxes.)
Me: Cristobal, do you want another niño?
Cristobal: Where’s Michael?
Alex: At school.
Cristobal: At school?
José: (Shouting from outside) Hello, Alex.
Me: Come on, let’s get out of the way.
(As we move aside, there’s a loud thud behind me. I look back and Alex is flat against the floor, his Big Water rolling away. He’s tripped over a piece of wood.)
Me: Alex, are you okay?
Cristobal: (Behind Alex, holding his hands in the air, grinning.) I didn’t do it.
Me: Come on, big guy, you’re okay. Here’s your Big Water.
(We watch José drive the forklift for awhile until Alex gets fidgety.)
Me: Now where do you want to go?
Alex: (Pointing at warehouse) Let’s walk through there.
(We walk through the warehouse, looking at the big stacks of corrugated. The air compressor comes on and scares us. Outside I can see robins hopping along. One has a worm in its mouth.)
Me: Look, there’s some birds. They’re robins. (Alex runs at them.) No, don’t chase them! If you chase them, they fly away and then you can’t look at them anymore
Alex: There’s another one. (Runs at it.)
Alex: Let’s sit down.
Me: We can sit down when we get inside.
Alex: I want to sit down now. My head hurts.
Me: What, do you have a five minute pain delay?
(Time passes. Alex comes into my office again.)
Alex: I wanna show you something.
Me: What is it? (Alex takes my hand and leads me down the hallway to the kitchen.)
Alex: (Pointing.) I want some of that.
Me: Ding Dongs? (Pause.) That sounds like a great idea. (Cackles.) There you go.
Alex: Mmm. Mmmm. Mmm. Mmm.
Me: I’m the best uncle ever!
On 12 March 2004 (12:29 PM),
On 12 March 2004 (01:51 PM),
On 12 March 2004 (04:37 PM),
On 12 March 2004 (04:48 PM),
J.D. Roth said:
On 12 March 2004 (05:42 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:
On 12 March 2004 (09:45 PM),
On 13 March 2004 (09:53 AM),
On 13 March 2004 (10:10 AM),
Mom (Sue) said: