The Old Tongue

(scene opens in mini van, sound of something rolling around)

Gamma: (in hypersensitive) What is that noise?!

Me: (focusing on road) Check the ash tray.

Gamma: (pause) Ash tray?

Me: (opens recessed drawer, reveals car adapter)

Gamma: Oh, its a stylus for the touch screen! (picks it up and touches end to screen)

Me: No, it’s a car charger. You plug it into the cigarette lighter and it charges your electronics.

Gamma: (longer pause) Cigarette lighter?

Me: Damnit. Okay – back when everyone and their mother used to smoke, there was this thing in the car that you would push in to turn on and it would heat up and then you could touch it to the end of your cigarette to light it. Now they use them as car outlets because it’s just an electrical contact point inside.

Gamma: (side eye) Oh. Okay. That was weird.

Me: The more I have to explain it to you, the weirder my childhood gets.

A Day of Service

(scene opens in mini van drive through)

Me: (hands over McDonald’s reward) Here you go. And thank you again for helping out and mowing lawns.

Beta: No problem. Nuggies! (stuffs one in his mouth)

Me: (starts to drive) I’m serious. If more people were willing to be that helpful and generous to the people around them, the world would be a better place. At the very least they’d all be wearing their goddam masks.

Beta: (slurps frozen Coke) Y’know — if everyone in the world was that helpful and generous, there’d be no objective way to determine who was a good person.

Me: (extreme close up, over dramatic side eye, long pause)

Beta: (mouth full of food) I mean right? It’d just be normal.

Me: What website did you get that off of?

Beta: Just though it now.

Me: (falls silent, continues to drive)

Poker Face

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Beta: (describing the gear needed for Welding class)

Me: (looks up from computer at Husband) So…now we’re buying him boots?

Husband: Something like Timberlands. Heavy duty work boots.

Me: (turns to Beta) Are you going to wear them all day?

Beta: No, they’ll stay in my locker.

Me: Finally using your locker? Glad someone knows what a locker is.

Beta: I have a locker in my welding classroom. I don’t use my real locker.

Husband: Only use your step-locker?

Me: (absentmindedly) What are you doing, step-locker?

Husband: (whips around to stare at Carrot)

Beta: (points at Carrot, yelling) NO!

Husband: (whips around to stare at Beta)

Me: Ha-ha. Outted you.

Beta: (flames bright red)

Husband: You’d better go to bed.

(Beta flees, stage left)

Husband: (to Carrot now laughing helplessly) I think this makes you the bad parent.

Carrot: (wipes tears) I’m okay with that.

Back to Normal

(scene opens in laundry room, Carrot knee-deep in clothing)

Me: (pulled laundry out of drier, makes face, pulls out “clean” sock and sniffs it, more ugly face)

Beta: (enters basement)

Me: Beta! Slither hither? (puts laundry of “clean” clothes on the drier) Did you do this load I just pulled out?

Beta: (moderately sullen) Yeah?

Me: (hands sock to sniff) When your socks come out of the dryer smelling like feet, it means they came out of the washer smelling like feet. Did you use detergent?

Beta: Yeah. I used one of those pods. (points to laundry detergent)

Me: Welp, they need to be done again then.

Beta: (without blinking, holds up scout sash, clearly savaged by a wild animal)

Me: Oh. Huh. Looks like Epsilon missed you while you were gone.

Beta: (sadly) Glad he stopped before he got to the merit badges.

Me: Those could have been replaced too. Put it on my sewing table. I’ll go to the scout shop tomorrow.

Mysteries of the Universe

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (to husband) I found one of Gamma’s stories in my Google Docs. I don’t know if it got emailed to me or what.

Husband: Yeah?

Me: It was amazingly complicated. There’s a deep and wide ranging mind in that child. Alarmingly and creatively intelligent.

Husband: I know. I’ve read some of her stuff.

Me: (looks out window, Gamma running around in circles talking loudly to herself and swinging a scooter by the handle) Y’know how some of our other friends have really smart and clever and deep children?

Husband: (warily) Yeah?

Me: How come they’re all self-possessed well spoken polite little mini-adults and ours is swathed in chaos?

Husband: Swaddled.

Me: Swathed. Swaddled. Difference?

Husband: Swaddled is comforting.

Me: (thinks) Fair.

Well, you asked.

(scene opens in mini-van)

Beta: I think Dad jokes aren’t funny. I bet mom jokes are funny. Mom, tell us a joke.

Me: (wearily) I’m well rested.

Husband: (uproariously laughter behind the wheel)

Me: (takes cue) My children are well behaved.

Husband: (increased laughing) Oh my god! That’s hilarious! I’m laughing so hard I’m crying!

Me: I never have to yell at them to do homework.

Husband: (booming fake stage laughter) It’s too much! Stop! I’m going to have to pull over if you keep going!

Me: My house is clean.

Husband: (pulls over to side of the road, puts head down on steering wheel, hysterical fake laughter)

(cut scene to four kids and a dog staring flatly at the front seat)

Beta: I’m sorry I said anything.

Husband: (to Carrot) Dear, that was wonderful. You should do stand-up.

Time Capsule

Me: (frazzled in the door of Gamma’s room) Okay, for the last time, pick up all. the. books and put them on. the. shelf. There are twelves books on the floor and it has taken you (checks watch) five hours to avoid picking them up.

Gamma: But it’s boring.

Me: You know what makes it less boring> Putting all the books on the shelf in five minutes or less.

(Beta walks up behind, taps Carrot on shoulder, hands her a bag of scout badges)

Me: (stares dumbfounded) I oughta pinch you. These are Webelo badges.

Beta: Yeah? So?

Me: It means they’ve been sitting in a drawer or under your bed since fifth grade! That’s how long its been since you cleaned where ever you found these!

Beta: Yeah, well, I’m about half way done on the drawers.

Me: (hyperventilating)

Time is Meaningless

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Me: (resigned) Okay, smalls, the school has encouraged twenty minutes a day on each of your two learning programs to make sure you’re all caught up for the fall. I don’t want any arguing. You can play video games after your work. Capisce?

Gamma/Delta: (in cheery chorus) Yes mom!

Gamma: Can we have snacks?

Me: Yes, as long as you work.

Gamma/Delta: (wailing) WE’VE BEEN WORKING FOREVER WHY AREN’T WE DONE!

Me: Its twenty minutes of work, not twenty minutes staring and the screen. You’ve done one question! Finish the rest of the questions and you’ll be done!

Gamma/Delta: (moar wailing) THE CLOCK SAYS WE’VE BEEN HERE FOR THIRTY MINUTES WHY WON’T YOU LET US PLAY VIDEO GAMES!?

Me: (trying not to cry) You’ve only done two questions! You have to do all the questions in the practice session!

(dramatic music, fade to black, cut to White Girl Wine Commercial)

Leveling Up

(scene opens in trashed pandemic parlor, sound of ice cream truck in the background)

Gamma: (shouting, waving a fist full of dollars) Ice cream man! Mom! Please!

Delta: (quick to join in) Mom! Ice cream man!

Me: (giving up the protracted battle) Fine. Go. Don’t run into the street.

(smalls race out of the house. Carrot sits at the table, head in hands. Five minutes of pure silence passes.)

Gamma: (burst through door) Mom! I have ice cream!

Delta: (runs to table) Gamma bought me ice cream!

Gamma: (proud and wistful) I have finally bought ice cream from the ice cream man.

Delta: (matter-of-factly) Gamma feels very grown up right now.

Me: (sighs) I can tell.

0/10 Not Recommend

(scene opens in detritus laden dinning room, Carrot sorting through a school year’s worth of papers)

Me: Gamma? Can you come here and fill out your memory book for the school year?

Gamma: (slinks to the table, picks up pen) No field trips. No cafeteria. No classrooms. No playground. Guess I’m done.

Me: Wait! Get back here! (dumps twenty half used notebooks in recycling) What’s on the next page?

Gamma: (looks at choices) Goals for next year.

(camera close up on scribble reading “See people”)

Gamma: Am I done?

Me: Go ahead. (sighs, picks up Delta’s book as Gamma flees stage left) Delta? What was your favorite game?

Delta: Nothing.

Me: On the playground?

Delta: Nothing

Me: Favorite story?

Delta: Nothing.

Me: Favorite color? Favorite teacher? Names of your friends?

Delta: Black. None. I don’t have any.

Me: Damn, kid. Do you like anything?

Delta: I like XBox.

Me: (writes that down) The parenting books did not have a chapter on this.

….and call him George

Beta: Hey mom? What’s Epsilon playing with outside?

Me: (distracted) I don’t know.

(Beta leaves, comes back)

Me: Oh. Epsilon 3, Bun-buns 0

Beta: Except for that one, he’s not hurting them. And that one I think was an accident. He’s just chilling with them. Like he doesn’t know what to do with it when he catches it.

Me: Well, he’s a herd dog. Maybe he’s trying to herd the bun-buns.

Beta: Maybe we should get him a rabbit stuffed animal?

Me: He likes to chew on things, I don’t want associating bun-buns with eviscerating stuffies.

Ouch

(scene opens in mini van, pulling away from kindergarten pick up line)

Delta: Is today Mother’s Day?

Me: No, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

Delta: Mother’s Day is only one day?

Me: Yes. Only one day.

Delta. Only one day a year?

Me: Yes. Mother’s Day is only one day a year.

Delta: So only one day a year you have a life?

Me: (quiet, merges into traffic) Yes. Thanks for pointing that out, Delta.

Delta. (happily) You’re welcome, mommy!