Here’s the wind up…

(scene opens in dim kitchen)

Gamma: Look at that chonky squirrel! I want a squirrel as a pet!

Husband: (looks out window) Eh, you can’t really have a squirrel for a pet. They’re not domesticated animals.

Gamma: Can I domesticate it?

Husband: You could tame one, but that’s different than domesticating.

Me: (looks up from making coffee) I don’t know how many generations it takes to domesticate something. Gamma, what you really want is to make some Crow Friends.

Gamma: How do you do that?

Me: Well, you need to feed them, but there are so many squirrels here, you’d need to call them to the yard first and then feed them.

Gamma: (skeptical) How do we do that?

Me: You can get a Crow Call on the internet.

Gamma: (skepticism deepens) A Crow Call?

Husband: Yeah! A Crow Call. Watch. (cups hands, leans towards window) HEY CROW! COME HERE CROW!

Gamma: (stares)

Me: (closes eyes) Seriously.

Husband: (laughs himself silly) I’m helpy!

Literature

(scene opens in Pandemic Homeschool)

Me: (miserable between two zoom meetings)

Delta: (fascinated by sing song story time)

Gamma: (talking to speech therapist) I have to read something out loud?

Me: (looks around quickly for suitable reading)

Gamma: (to screen) I have a copy of Terry Pratchett’s “The Hogfather” if that’s okay? (hold up book taken from stack of stuff)

Me: (dumbfounded)

Gamma: (begins to read “The Hogfather” outloud to teacher)

Me: (silently)

Experience Counts

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)

Carrot: (cooking dumplings)

Husband: (hovering)

Gamma: (runs in, lips blue and glittery, holds up eyeshadow pallet) Mom! When can I use the eyeshadow?!

Carrot: (distracted) I forgot to order brushes. I’ll pick some up tomorrow and you can play around with it.

Husband: She can use sponges for that, right? (Goes to mudroom cabinet)

Carrot: What? Wait! No! She can’t use those!

Husband: Why not? I used them to put on make up.

Carrot: Clown make-up!

Husband: I fail to see the difference.

Carrot: Point. But no. Could everyone just believe the one person in this room that actually has worn make-up? I’ll get the right brushes tomorrow.

Husband: I’ve worn make up. I’m also the person who has worn make-up most recently.

Carrot: CLOWN MAKE-UP!

Husband: Again, I fail to see the difference.

Helping the Revolution

(scene opens in cluttered dining room, Pandemic Homeschool in progress)

Carrot: Okay after you draw your picture, we have to write sentences.

Delta: (scribbles out a snowman) Done!

Carrot: Write “My snowman has long hair”

(twenty minute montage of this being attempted)

Delta: Done!

Carrot: (slightly frazzled) Okay, is your snowman a boy or girl? A he or she? Or is your snowman a they?

Delta: (thinks) My snowman is a they. Because snowmen can be boys or girls.

Carrot: Awesome. Write “They have long arms”.

(another twenty minute montage as Carrot sinks deeper into her coffee)

Delta: Mommy, this is my last one. Teacher says I only have to do two sentences, not three.

Carrot: (sigh) Honey, I am your teacher.

The children are our future.

(scene opens in brightly lit kitchen)

Husband: (preparing to cook dinner)

Carrot: (staying out of his way) I was reading this moderately alarming article about how Covid has tanked the birthrate. Add that to the Covid death rate, that’s a significant population drop. There’s going to be some massive demographic shifts fairly soon.

Husband: Now stop to think all the Millenials that can’t afford to buy houses and start families and that Gen Z isn’t going to be able to do that either.

Carrot: A faster and bigger drop. (thinks) Y’know – even though we have four kids, its very possible we won’t have any grandchildren.

Husband: (washing a dish) Oh, I don’t know about that. Alpha is good looking and prone to making bad decisions.

Carrot: (with adoration) Awww. Just like his father!

Husband: (turns, glares, kisses Carrot’s forehead) Nice.

Carrot: I know.

The gift that keeps on giving.

(flashback)

Big Boys: (yelling) Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, dad!

Husband: It’s okay to be wrong.

(scene opens in Christmas flavored pandemic parlor)

Husband: (unwrapping present, pauses in wonder) Oh. You didn’t.

Big Boys: (yelling) Mom! You didn’t!

Me: (smug) Now every year we can read it on Christmas eve and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Big Boys: (yelling) Mom!

Me: Maybe you’ll stop complaining about being forced to watch the Hogfather every Christmas eve?

Beta: I thought you loved us.

Me: I love your father more.

Ars Gratia Artis

(scene opens in dining room)

Me: (slowly and carefully assembling flower pieces)

Beta: (enters from kitchen) Those are really pretty mom. Can I pick one up?

Me: (abstractly) Sure. Be careful.

Beta: Now what are you going to do with them?

Me: (sighs) I don’t know.

Beta: Something else to lay around the house and gather dust?

Me: (reprovingly) Maybe. Not all art is profitable. Sometimes we do it anyway. Because we can. It makes the world a prettier place.

Tough Crowd

(scene opens in dining room)

Delta: (watching Carrot light Advent candles) What are those for mommy?

Me: Each week we light one to remind ourselves what’s important; Peace, Hope, Love…

Husband: (interrupting from foyer) Profits for the candle manufacturers.

Me: ….and Joy. Which your father is.

Delta: No, he is pain and despair.

Me: Well then.

Husband: I heard that.

Lessons for my Daughter

(scene opens in dining room)

Me: (brushing Gamma’s hair) You’re getting so tall. You’re so amazing. (rests chin on top of Gamma’s head)

Gamma: I am tall.

Me: (continues brushing hair) I want you to know something. You’re going to be tall like your father’s family. Me and Aunt T? We’re not tall. Your dad? Very tall. (turns daughter around to face her) I want you to understand something very important.

Gamma: (uncertain) Okay?

Me: (smiles gently) There are going to be men out there who are going to be threatened by a tall woman. Because it makes them feel like they’re not strong and in charge and you know what? (stops smiling, pokes her chest) You don’t need men like that.

Gamma: (throws arms up) I AM INVICIBLE!

Me: You are.

Gamma: And I have poison coming out of my teeth. I’ll bite them.

Me: (kisses her forehead) That’ll learn ’em.

Old Fashion Hobby

(scene opens in dim dining room, homeschool hell in progress)

Me: (frowning, thinking, typing slowly)

Gamma: (comes around table to look over Carrot’s shoulder) Black Phoenix Alchemy? Is that for me? Because I like alchemy?

Me: (confused) What? No. Go back to your chair.

Gamma: (lingering) I’m curious.

Me: (sharply) Go!

Gamma: (flouncing away dramatically) Why isn’t it for me? Why won’t you let me do alchemy?

Me: (struggling to focus) Black Phoenix Alchemy is a perfume site, not alchemy.

Gamma: (bemoans) Why doesn’t anyone do alchemy any more?

Me: (trying to articulate) Now it’s called chemistry.

Gamma: Doesn’t sound as much fun as alchemy. I suppose I could do chemistry if I had to.

(Carrot puts head down on table, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Did you eat them?

(scene opens in dinning room)

Husband: (grouchy) Beta is wearing shorts.

Me: (too through) I told him to go through Alpha’s dresser for jeans if they’re not in his.

Husband: They say they don’t have any. Alpha has been wearing the same shorts for two weeks now.

Me: But…I went to Goodwill. In a mask. I bought a dozen. It’s a pandemic. We. Haven’t. Been. Anywhere.

Husband: (throws up hands)

Me: (still confused) All the laundry has been done.

Husband: I told them at lunch they’re going up to their room and finding all their pants.

(the two stare at one another)

Me: It’s gonna get real cold in here when the Polar Vortex comes and they have no pants.

Husband: I doubt that will motivate them.

The kid gets it.

(scene opens in dim dining room, pandemic homeschool in session)

Delta: (climbing into his chair) Mommy, I was made for two things.

Me: (clutching coffee mug) Oh yeah?

Delta: Yeah. Eating chocolate and playing games!

Me: Those are good things.

Delta: And loving you! (big cheese five year old grin)

Me: (sound of heart melting) That’s three things.

Delta: Yeah. I made a mistake.