How we cite our quotes:
Nick lay back with his father's arms around him. (3)
Sounds pretty comforting to us. Safety, security, complete trust—Nick isn't thinking at all about the big mean world. That's something for grown-ups like his dad to worry about. But little does Nick know that the big mean world is waiting for him at the camp.
"You don't know," said his father. "Listen to me. What she is going through is called being in labor. The baby wants to be born and she wants it to be born. All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what is happening when she screams." (14)
This reads like a remedial midwife lesson, right? Nick's father may not be prepping him for med school, but he is trying to prepare him for life. In exposing Nick to the "facts of life," Nick's father imposes a rather stoic, matter-of-fact order onto something as scary as childbirth. You can almost hear the implicit "Buck up and face the facts" in this statement.
Nick did not watch. His curiosity had been gone for a long time. (32)
Nick isn't as eager to face the harsh world as his father would like him to be. Honestly, though, not wanting to watch someone get stitches doesn't really have a whole lot to do with age or maturity; it's just that Nick's dad seems to think that it builds character to have to face these things without feeling queasy (though he is a doctor, so his point of view might be a little skewed).