"Can you put down the magazine and tell me which bathing suit you want?"
"Can't I tell you while I'm reading?"
"So tell me."
"The green and yellow one."
"That doesn't fit you any more, honey. "
"Okay, put in the orange one."
"You have soccer practice on Sunday. Where are your cleats?"
"I don't know."
"Jamie, put down the magazine and find your cleats, please."
"Mom, why did you marry Eric?"
"Because I love him."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, Jamie, I do."
"Because he's funny."
"Remember when I used to say 'Not funny!' every time someone said I was funny?"
"Well, you are funny. And one of the reasons I love Eric is because he's funny. It's also one of the reasons I like your dad."
"I think you're funny, Mom. Here, take the cleats."
"Funny looking, right?"
"Do I have to go to my dad's?"
"I don't want to go."
"In fact, I'm not going."
"Let's take it one day at a time, Jamie."
"Does that mean I don't have to go?"
"It just means that we're going to start out with tonight. Let's see how it goes tomorrow."
"Why are you packing my bag if I'm not going?"
"Because we're going to take it one day at a time."
"I didn't say that, you said that."
"What are you going to be like as a teenager if you're this fresh as a nine-year-old?"
"Maybe I'll be nicer?"
"That would be good."
"If you don't send me to my dad's, I'll be nicer. Otherwise, I'll be evil."
"What? I was being funny."
"What's wrong with going to your dad's? You have Wii. You have marshmallows. He gives you a lot of marshmallows."
"Could you buy some of those marshmallows and put them in my lunch box?"
"If you go to your dad's, I'm sure he'll let you eat as many marshmallows as you want until your teeth fall out."
"I hate marshmallows."
"Who hates marshmallows?"
"Eric, tell Jamie he'll be swimming in marshmallows if he goes to his dad's."
"I hate marshmallows."
"Jamie, why are you unpacking your bag, honey?"
"Because I'm not going to his house, Mom. I told you this already."
"Why don't you want to go to your dad's, bud?"
"I don't know."
"He has Wii, he has marshmallows."
"He doesn't have Force Unleashed."
"Take our copy, Jamie."
"He says I can't play it because it's inappropriate."
"Maybe he's got a point, bud. Maybe it is inappropriate."
"That's total bullshit, Eric, and you know it."
"Maybe that's why he doesn't want you playing it. Because when you play it you turn into a foul-mouthed kid."
"There's no bad words in Force Unleashed--and Mom, stop repacking my bag!"
"He's going to be here in five minutes, Jamie."
"I don't care. I don't give a shit. You want to drag me out of the house? I'm not fucking going."
"I thought we talked about using other words when you're frustrated."
"Stop packing his bag for a second, Mel."
"Jamie, I understand you're upset."
"My dad told me that if I don't want to go that I don't have to."
"Well, then we should call him. Or we should set up another meeting with Dr. Phonese. It's important for you to have a relationship with your father, honey."
"Now you sound like Dr. Penis."
"What? His name doesn't sound like Penis?"
"No Dr. Phonese does not sound like Penis."
"Mom, stop putting my cleats back in the bag. I'm not going."
"Can you just give me a reason?
"No fart jokes allowed."
"Is that the only reason? Because that's not a good enough reason, honey."
"I'd say that's a fairly good reason, Mel."
"See, Mom, Eric agrees with me."
"He didn't like that pull my finger joke, Mel. Remember the one that you got the phone call about?"
"I hate that pull my finger joke."
"Yeah, well, so does your ex-husband. That's one thing you two have in common. Hey Jamie, something's wrong with my finger."
"Nothing's wrong with your finger."
"Really, bud. There's something terribly wrong with it."
"I think there's something wrong with you, Eric."
"Of course there's something wrong with me because I'm sitting here hanging out with you in your smelly room. When was the last time you washed your sheets?"
"I don't wash my own sheets. I'm nine."
"Let's make a list, Mel, this kid needs to start doing laundry."
"I go to the Laundromat with my dad."
"And, what do you do there, bud? Do you fold clothes? Do you carry all of the laundry down the block? Do you separate whites and darks?"
"I'm sure he does something, Eric."
"No, actually, I just watch my father."
"It sounds like you have it pretty easy at your dad's."
"It's not always easy."
"Marshmallows. Mario Galaxy Two. Someone else doing your laundry. Then you get to come back to your mom after a weekend and she rubs your toes--"
"She doesn't rub my toes."
"I gave you a back massage the other day."
"That's some life, bud. I'd like it if someone rubbed my back. Or my finger."
"Here we go with the finger."
"There's pain behind this finger."
"You're trying to fart on me that's what you're doing."
"When you get back from your dad's, I'll fart on you all you want and you can retaliate. We'll have a sadomasochistic convention of farting."
"He's here. I see his car."
"Eric, grab the bag for me. His pajamas. They're across the room. And the Legos. And the Indiana Jones book--the one with the chapters."
"Mom, where's my mitt?"
"Why do you need your mitt?"
"Because my dad wants to have a catch. That's what he said."
"It's in the mud room. I'll go get it, honey."
"No, Mom. I'll go."
"I didn't say I'd go. I said I'd get the mitt."
"He's walking downstairs by himself, Mel. And he's going to get his own mitt. That's what he's saying, right bud?"
"Okay, well then I'll see you at soccer, honey."
"I don't want you to go to soccer."
"Okay. I don't have to go to soccer."
"Hey, bud. Easy on your mom."
"I mean, she doesn't have to go to soccer if she doesn't want to. If she wants to go to the farmer's market or something else. I don't mind if she doesn't want to come."
"Hey bud, I'm going to soccer and fart on your head."
"I'm going to pounce on you at soccer and ram your skull into the goalie post."
"Jesus, bud. No wonder your dad doesn't want you playing Force Unleashed."
"I'm going to unleash a silent but deadly at your soccer game."
"Enough of the fart jokes, please."
"You haven't seen enough until you've seen his Force Unleashed, Mom."
"You don't see a Force Unleashed, bud."
"If it's a purple vapor, you do."
"Purple vapor fart machine."
"Purple vapor time machine."
"Okay, Jamie. I'll call you tomorrow, how about that?"
"Yeah, Mom. That's good. Call me tomorrow. Maybe I'll come home a day early. And hey Eric?"
"What's up, bud?"
"Smell you later."
BIO: Hayley Krischer's essays about parenting have been published in a number of online and print publications. She won a first place award from the New Jersey Press Association and a short story of hers was a finalist in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers. She was the recipient of Panavision's New Filmmaker's Grant for an original screenplay. She recently received her master's in creative writing from Lesley University. This is her first published work of fiction.