(scene opens up in cleared dining room)
Alpha: (fumbling with project materials)
Me: Oh! Solar models! You can talk about totality we saw in St. Louis. (picks up sun-earth-moon model and arranges them for the joke) Solar eclipse. Lunar eclipse. Apocalypse.
Alpha: (stares for a moment) No. This would be the apocalypse (removes moon) because if there wasn’t any moon to stabilize rotation….
Me: Try again. (repeats it slowly with emphasis on “clipse”)
Alpha: (stare gets darker) Ha ha. That wasn’t very funny.
Me: It’s all I’ve got today.
(scene opens in sterile school meeting room, long table filled with various school official types)
Me: (enters in, carrying Delta, places extra large box of Kleenex on the table) Please excuse me. I’ve serious allergies that Claritin-D cannot contain. (sits, blows nose several times)
Helpful Older Lady: You should try Afrin nose spray. One squirt will clear it up.
Assembled People: (collective murmurs of agreement)
Me: (gentle smile) I’m also using the Afrin Severe Congestion spray. With menthol.
Assembled People: (collective gasp)
Helpful Older Lady: (clutches pearls) My goodness. That sounds…aggressive.
Me: (blows nose) Not aggressive enough.
(scene opens in tossed dining room)
Beta: Here mom, turns out we didn’t need this for school after all. The supply list was written by last year’s teacher and she’s not here.
Me: (takes thumb drive) Oh. Okay. (goes to put it in desk drawer)
Beta: Wait, don’t I get to keep it?
Me: What are you going to do with it? You don’t have access to a computer.
Beta: I’ll use it!
Me: Doing what?!
Beta: Filling it with dank memes! (assumes Troll Face)
Me: (WTF look) Go play.
(scene opens in screaming banshee theater, sometimes known as the foyer)
Alpha: I want to wear what I want to wear!
Me: I just want you in a collared shirt! You want to be able to choose what you wear in the school photos, then you give me a week’s advance notice instead of forcing me to hunt down the photographer’s website and hunt for the school’s scheduled picture day based solely on the paperwork information your sister brought home for her picture day at a completely different school and a completely different day! You didn’t even know today was picture day until I told you!
Alpha: (sullen) School photos aren’t the real me.
Me: (snarls) School photos are for me and grandmas and all the other lame old ladies in your life that want lame cute photos of you hanging on their wall.
Alpha: Fine! (leaves stage left, slams door)
(scene opens in dim basement rec room)
Me: (hot) Over the weekend you swore that all the laundry would get folded while you watched tv. Look. Not a single damn basket folded. You even tried to hide this basket behind the couch. Fold it. Now.
Beta: (whining) But….but… (tears on cue)
Me: I swear to god. This tv doesn’t go on until all the laundry is folded.
Beta: (turns and slouches away)
Me: Where the hell are you going?!
Beta: (sobbing) You said the tv couldn’t go on until the laundry is done, so I’m going to my room to read a book since I can’t watch tv.
Me: Sweet Zombie Jebuz! That threat means you fold the goddamn laundry! Do it now!
Beta: (more sobbing, limply picking up towels and wadding them together)
Me: (flees scene in attempt to stave off murder)
(scene opens in crowded middle school cafeteria orientation night)
Alpha: (pushing through milling crowd) Mom! Mom!
Me: (looks up from a signing a million pieces of paperwork) What?
Alpha: I need five dollars (points to bake sale table). I want to get a blunt cake.
Me: (pauses, processes) Blunt. Cake.
Alpha: Yeah! Little round cakes with vanilla frosting!
Me: Oh. Those are bundt cakes. Bun.d.nt. (draws out sounds) Not blunt. Those aren’t legal. Yet.
Alpha: (confused as well as stubborn) Really! They’re blunt cakes. I saw the “L” in there!
Me: Then you’re really not getting one apart from me not having the five dollars.
(scene opens in moderately organized kitchen)
Alpha: So where are we going?
Me: St. Louis. We’re spending the night and on Monday we’re going to see the eclipse! (with great enthusiasm)
Alpha: (dismayed) But we have school on Monday.
Me: I’m taking you out of school. Once in a lifetime chance! Non-academic learning potential!
Alpha: (wilting further) We’re getting gym locker combinations on Monday.
Me: Solar. Eclipse. In. Totality.
Alpha: (Sagging completely) It’s just….just that…its less time I can hang out with my friend.
Me: Holy god. It’ll be another 99 years before this happens again. Could you just try to enjoy the fact that your nerdly space-obsessed mother finds a 3 minute event to be more important than sitting at a desk for six hours?
(scene opens at the park)
Me: (sitting on bench, running fingers through Gammas’s two-toned hair) The blue is starting to fade. I like the slate blue of it, it looks like stone. Maybe you’re an Earth Witch.
Gamma: (resigned patience) My hair isn’t stone, mommy.
Me: If we do the color again, what color do you want to do? Pink? Red? Green?
Me: (oddly disappointed) Black? Why would you want black?
Gamma: Because I walk through shadow.
Me: Oh. I guess that’s okay then.
(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)
Alpha: (preparing to wash dishes, soap and sponge at the ready)
Me: (enters, notices mug in Alpha’s hands) What are you doing?
Alpha: Getting ready to wash dishes. Its my chore for the day.
Me: Did you just dump out that coffee mug?
Me: Was it hot?
Me: (gestures to a counter full of glassware) Every glass we own is dirty and you start with the coffee mug I just put down while in the bathroom?
Alpha: (defensively) It was dirty!
Me: It was seasoned! You never wash a coffee addict’s coffee mug! They might still be drinking it!
(scene opens in mini-van on ride home, math & physics discussion in progress)
Me: And that’s why I’m glad you decided you wanted to go to band camp. Music, language, and math all use the same part of the brain.
Beta: So I guess this means I’m really smart.
Me: (smirk) Kinda.
Beta: (offended) Kinda?!
Me: Intelligence isn’t a black/white issue of you’re either dumb or smart but more of a sliding scale. I think I might be moderately educated, but someone like Stephen Hawking probably thinks I’m a moron.
Beta: (dawning awareness) So you’re smarter than some people and some people are smarter than you! So Gamma is smarter than Delta, I’m smarter than Gamma, Alpha is smarter than me, you’re smarter than Alpha and dad is smarter than you!
Me: (narrow side eye)
Beta: Uh, reverse that?
Me: (stern lecture voice) Okay, now we talk about how it isn’t “age brings wisdom”, despite the fact I’m older that your father, but age brings the opportunity for more experience and experience brings wisdom.
(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, lunch in progress, Irish folk played offscreen)
Alpha: This music reminds me of something.
Me: (cutting tomatoes) Oh yeah?
Alpha: Yeah. Ornica of Time. Legend of Zelda.
Me: (processes that for a moment) It’s pronounced ocarina. Ocarina of Time.
Alpha: (incredulous) Really?! You played Legend of Zelda?!
Me: No, I played an ocarina.
Alpha: Those really exist!?
(scene opens in dim basement, children eating candy before the tv)
Husband: What are you eating?
Alpha: (mumbling) Nothing.
Husband: (sees open bag on the bar) Did you guys get into mom’s stash of Skittles?!
Alpha: It’s Beta’s fault. But he only took a handful and his hands are small.
Beta: (holds up hands, wiggles fingers) It’s true. See?
Gamma: Mine are smaller.