Dex Check

(scene opens in tossed parlor, woman on settee needlepointing)

Beta: (bleary, wanders in) Morning.
Me: (looks out window) Noon. What happened to your lip? Is that a cold sore?
Beta: (delicately run fingers over bruised, fat, slightly bloody lower lip) No. Uh, you know where the corner is on the bottom of our stairs? How its the same color as the other door next to it? And how it angles? Well, I thought that it was part of the door and when I tried to open the door, I walked into it.
Me: (silence)
Beta: What?
Me: You walked into your door.
Beta: Yes.
Me: (sigh) Well, this is the point where I would give you Obligatory Mock, because you are deserving of Obligatory Mock. However, I feel that – given the circumstances – just notifying you of your deserving Obligatory Mock covers it and we’ll let it go. No promises on the rest of your siblings.
Beta: (resignedly nods) Acceptable.

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All the colors

(scene opens in gloomy tossed dinning room)

Delta: Batman, mommy! Batman!
Me: What? (sees Delta with hair clip and pink baby blanket) Oh! Okay!
Gamma: (from under the table) What does he want?
Me: (putting blanket around Delta’s shoulders) He wants to be Batman, so I’m putting a cape on him.
Gamma: Batman doesn’t wear pink.
Me: It’s Pride. He’s Pride Batman. Pride Batman can wear pink.
Gamma: That’s not a thing.
Me: You wanna bet?

(scene ends with Delta zooming around the room in naught but diaper and pink cape)

Do you even music?

(scene opens in the dining room)

Me: Okay, Beta, welcome to Tiger Mom Summer school. Time to practice scales! Remember, when you see these two signatures these two notes (points them out, clearly marked as #) are always sharp.
Beta: (slumped in chair, cradling baritone horn) How do you play a sharp?
Me: (looking scale sheet) It has the fingerings right there.
Beta: I don’t think I’ve ever played a sharp.
Me: (deep breathing) You’ve been in band two years. How have you not played a sharp?
Beta: (turning red, tears starting) I don’t know!
Me: Clearly your band teacher has not been putting you through your paces and I have failed you as Nightmare Tiger Mom. We’ll begin with your first scale and it looks like I’m learning Bass Clef with you.
Beta: (begins to weep, plays soggy scale, waits for death)
Me: (finds center, remains calm) It might be an embouchure problem. You’ll have to do lip-ups. Every day you’ll need to lay face down and pick yourself up with only your lips.
Beta: (laughs through his tears)
Me: Okay. Good. Now, again.

Learn you good

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Me: (enters, sees Gamma on the computer) Gamma? What are you doing?
Gamma: Watching videos of games! (Pouty lipped cartoon character on the screen, with lipstick choices)
Me: (flinches inwardly) How about you watch something a little more intellectually stimulating than putting fake make up on a fake person?

(mother leaves, back momentarily, sees Gamma typing)

Me: Now what are you watching?
Gamma: I’m trying to find Kurzgesagt. Is that okay?
Me: (pauses, impressed) That’s fine.

Power of Fashion

(scene opens in mini-van)

Me: Thank you for coming with me to pick out a graduation outfit.
Alpha: (simmering) Why can’t I just wear a nice shirt and my black pants?
Me: (tiredly) Because this is a graduation. It is a formal event. You need something better than the black polo grandma got you for the party.
Alpha: But no one ever wears a suit!
Me: (hotly) They do! You just ignore them in favor of pointing out all the kids who are going to show up in their jeans and Jordans. Tell you what – if you want to wear a black suit and a black tie, you can do that. It doesn’t have to be goofy colors.
Alpha: (softens) Like John Wick?
Me: (hopeful) Exactly like John Wick.
Alpha: (mulling) That sounds good.
Me: (performs mental Victorious Picard)

Too Much Creativity

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Gamma: (fresh from school) Mom! I have to make a machine for school tomorrow!
Me: Wha..? Why?
Gamma: I…(self aware pause) I didn’t finish it in class. Maybe draw it?
Me: Do you have to make or draw?
Gamma: (mental processing) …both? I need a machine that makes my life easier with snacks.
Me: (can’t even) With what? Snacks?
Gamma: Whatever we have in the house. Its a machine about snacks.

(scene cuts to cluttered dinning room)

Me: There. You have styrofoam cups, bendy straws, tape, scissors, and this aluminum tray you brought home from school. Have at.
Gamma: Whee!(proceeds to cut everything into confetti)
Me: Uh, what are you making?
Gamma: I’m just cutting.
Me: What about your snack machine?!?
Gamma: (surveys carnage) Oh. I forgot.

I am altering the deal

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Me: Gamma, Delta’s therapist is coming in a few minutes, I want you to go downstairs until she leaves.
Gamma: But there’s nothing to do! Alpha’s playing Halo!
Me: (inaudible swearing, pounds on floor, older boys summoned)
Beta: What?
Me: Turn off Halo. Turn on Star Wars.
Alpha: What? Why?
Me: Today is May the fourth. Today is Star Wars day. You have to sit in the basement and watch Star Wars all day.
Beta: (suspicious) Seriously?
Me: Seriously. It’s May the fourth. And really, what else are you doing to do on a day off from school when its raining?

(Alpha and Beta share incredulous looks, run off to do mother’s bidding)

Me: (mutters) And how else am I going to keep from learning a force choke?

This again?

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Alpha: (sawing his way through Dona Nobis Pacem)
Me: No, you need to hold that note longer.
Alpha: (scowls, saws through it again)
Me: What’s the key signature?
Alpha: One sharp. That’s F#?
Me: Yes. Sounds like you’re playing all of them sharp.
Alpha: No I’m not! You don’t know how this song goes!
Me: Seriously. (Sings Dona Nobis Pacem perfect Catholic School acapella) Why do you think you’re ever going to win a music fight with me? I’m not even anywhere near the moderately competent musician my school ever released into the wild.
Alpha: (says nothing, goes back to sawing, only half the notes sharp)

Condiment Wars

(scene opens at cluttered breakfast table)

Alpha: I want to try meerliwhup.
Me: (blinks, strives for focus) What?
Alpha: Meerliwhup. I want to try it.
Me: (sees he’s reading grocery adds) Sure, but what the hell is meerliwhup?
Alpha: I’m being silly. Miracle Whip.
Me: (recoils) Absolutely not. Not now, not ever, not in this house.
Alpha: But what if I want to try it? What if I think it’s delicious?
Me: When you’re all grown up and living in on your own you can eat all the Miracle Whip you want, but I will not have it in this house. There are few things that I am completely inflexible about and this is one of them. Don’t push me.

Not a Rickroll

(scene opens at dinner table)

Beta: My music teacher told me that I needed to watch 4:33.
Me: (processing) What?
Beta: 4:33. Both he and the orchestra teacher were laughing about it. It’s a music video.
Me: Oh! Yes. (starts laughing) Of course we can watch it. (calls up the orchestral version of John Cage’s 4’33)

(minute goes by)

Gamma: When are they going to start playing?
Beta: For real. They’re just sitting there.

(second minute goes by)

Beta: I don’t get it. Why is this funny?
Gamma: They’re not playing.

(third minute goes by)

Gamma: This is boring! Where’s the music?!
Beta: (extreme suffering) I don’t get it! Tell me why this is so funny!
Me: (calls up the sheet music for 4’33)
Beta: (incredulous) Rests. The whole thing is rests. Why the hell would anyone write a piece of just rests!? And why wouldn’t anyone think that’s funny?
Me: (starts giggling)

Basic Math

(scene opens in afternoon dining room, argument in progress)

Me: (exasperated) You’re racking up a list of missing assignments! Where are they? Are you eating them?!
Alpha: (sullen, stomps out of the room, comes back with piles of papers) Here they are!
Me: (shocked) You had them this whole time? Why didn’t you turn them in?!
Alpha: (darkly) I couldn’t figure out these problems. (points to various problems on different pages)
Me: (trouble processing) So…you couldn’t figure out a single problem out of twelve and so you didn’t turn it in?
Alpha: (defensive) Yeah.
Me: (voice from the grave) So, instead of getting five 80% homework assignments turned in, you opted for five zeros.

(long pause)

Alpha: Yeah. I’m doing them all right now, aren’t I?
Me: (resigned) Honestly, I don’t care if you do them or not, but you’re turning in all these worksheets in tomorrow and you’ll be lucky to get 30% on them for being late. But better than zeros. Goddamnit, Alpha, some is better than none when talking about grades and money.

I Feel Your Pain

(scene opens in oddly clean kitchen)

Me: (wearily stirring dinner)
Gamma: (perpetual whine) Moooooom! I’m so bored! What day is it?
Me: (deep sigh) Thursday. Same day as when I told you an hour ago.
Gamma: (whining intensifies) Thursday?! How much longer is Spring Break?!
Me: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. You have three days left. You go back on Monday.
Gamma: Three days?! (collapses to floor dramatically) I’ll never make it, I’m so bored. I wish I could go back to school today.
Me: Me too, honey. Me too.