A Real Conversation

Nate came to my room last night.

“What should I watch now?” he asked.

“You mean, ‘Can I watch something else?'” I corrected.

“Can I watch something else?”

“Sure, Nate, go ahead.”

He sat on the bed and started talking about one of his main interests, renovating our house. He had just put on Run My Renovation on the DIY Network, one of the many interchangeable shows he watches. They’re all the same to me.

“We should fix my bathroom and Joey’s. I’ll draw a plan.” Nate is dead serious about these things and he pulled a lamp from off the night table to the floor, spread himself and his pen and paper out and began to make his blueprints. He created two options, before and after drawings of what he’d like changed.

“We also need to renovate the laundry room bathroom.” Again, he presented two options. I was very impressed by one that created two rooms out of the one combination room we have now. I’d never thought of that. Nate thinks of it all the time.

He came back up to the bed and we began to talk. I explained to him, as Karen and I often have, that home repairs and renovations cost money, sometimes quite a lot of money. These talks tend to go not much further than Nate replying, “We need to get more money.”

Last night was different. We’re having the house painted now and I asked Nate how much he thought that cost.

“A million dollars?”

“No, not that much, but that’s a lot right?”

“A hundred?”

“A hundred thousand, or one hundred?” I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“A hundred-fifty.”

I told him how much it cost and he did think that was a lot of money. Then I turned to one of our past jobs, the big kitchen rehaul in Lincolnshire. At first he thought I meant our Cooperstown mini-fix. When I told him how much the Illinois kitchen re-do was, he really got it. There was a change in his look and I could tell he was thinking of something.

“My bathroom should have tiled walls.”

He explained that he’d like his walls tiled half way up, just like his shower. This was a real breakthrough. Nate understood to a great degree that different things have different price tags and, when he realized that his dream jobs maybe too costly, he switched to something more reasonable.

I’m sure we’ll do it for him. Progress like this needs reinforcement and reward.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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