We eat and then the boys fill up the squirt guns and hasten outside into the windy evening, running in opposite directions. Karen and I watch from the living room. Stalking each other, the boys lurk among the Italian cypress and oaks, duck under garden furniture, and creep behind hedges. When there's a clean shot, they squirt each other with thin streams of water. Hidden behind some potted hydrangeas, Daisy watches from near the house. When the boys race past her, she twirls a spigot she's grasping with one hand and takes aim with a garden hose she's holding in the other. She drenches them.
I stop the boys just as they're about to catch her. "You don't deserve to be rescued," I tell her, "but it's bedtime."
Jasper and Daisy take baths and put on their pajamas and then ask Nic to read to them.
He sits on a miniature couch between their twin beds, his long legs stretched out on the floor. He reads from The Witches, by Roald Dahl. We hear his voice—voices—from the next room: the boy narrator, all wonder and earnestness; wry and creaky Grandma; and the shrieking, haggy Grand High Witch.
"Children are foul and filthy! … Children are dirty and stinky! … Children are smelling of dogs' drrrroppings! … They are vurse than dogs' drrroppings! Dogs' drrroppings is smelling like violets and prrrimroses compared with children!"
Nic's performance is irresistible, and the children, as always, are riveted by him.
Excerpted from Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction by David Sheff, Copyright © 2007 by David Sheff. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.