I don’t like you! I love you.

It’s 7:25 AM, any random weekday. Puddy is on the bed, purring and pacing. Simon (9) has a blanket pulled over his head, pretending that this isn’t happening. It’s as if it’s the first time I’ve ever asked him to get up (I do it every day). A monologue/song is usually required, made up on the spot. Here’s an example.

Simon (yelling): “Go away, Dad! I don’t want to get up! School sucks! I don’t like you!”

Stuart (yelling back): “Well, I don’t like you either!” (There’s a pause, and a little face with shocked expression pops out from under the duvet)

(softer) “I don’t like you, Simon. I love you! Like and Love. When you think of it, they’re two four-letter words that are a lot the same. Both start with L and end in E. (Simon rolls eyes and goes back under the covers) But actually, they are so different.”

Simon (sighs loudly, then shouts): “They’re the Same! Now go away!”

Stuart: “You might think they are the same. But they’re not! Like is a horrible little word, sliced in half by a pointy I (swoosh chopping motion through the air). I as in ‘Isolate.’ Or ‘Island.’ ‘Individual.’ That’s bad. Then there’s the K. As in Kick your butt out of bed.”

Simon: “That’s not nice!”

Stuart: “OK. That’s true, but a hard sounding letter in the middle of a four-letter word is a crime! Especially when kids at school mix it up with C. Confusing.”

Simon (quiet and unmoving): “I know one where the k is at the end … Go away!”

Stuart (undeterred): “Love, on the other hand, my little man, is so much better. After the L rolls an O, big and round like a mouth about to kiss. (I lean in for a smooch!) O is a big warm blankets-hug in the arms of velvety V. (awesome lie-down hug!) I don’t like you either, Simon. I L – O – V – E you! So get up!”(tickling and torturing deployed and escalate until he finally relents)

“The thing is, Simon, I didn’t like school either. But you still have to go. And if you’re like me, you’ll love it when it’s over.”

Simon: “You’re such a weirdo, Dad.”

He swings his feet out onto the floor, stands up and and leaves the room. Puddy moves in to the warm spot. Another day begins.



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