How to talk to them

(scene opens in early cluttered dining room)

Delta: (suddenly alarmed) Where’s Narbles?!

Gamma: (in kitchen) Over here! (camera cuts to squishmallow purple narwhal on the counter)

Me: Thank you, for finding her…. Hey, is Narbles a boy or a girl?

Delta: Um…Narbles is from the sea and a sea creature, so both.

Me: Oh. What do you call someone who’s both?

Gamma: (comes out of kitchen) A helicopter.

Me: You don’t call them a helicopter! That’s silly.

Gamma: (seriously) No, they’re helicopters. (holds up hands at 90 degrees) Helicopters have the blades on top and blades on the back. See? Both!

Me: That’s pretty good logic, but you can just say “they” if you don’t know or they say they’re non-binary.

Gamma: What’s binary?

Me: Binary is when you only have two choices. Non-binary would be a third option.

Gamma: Cool. Can I have Nutella for breakfast?

Me: (sigh) And that concludes the lesson. Sure, share with Delta.

(two kids throw up their hands cheering and run off screen)

At What Cost

(Scene opens in mini-van, three of four children at top volume)

Husband: (pulls three dollars from his pocket) Okay! Hear this! I have a dollar for everyone who can keep their mouth shut until we get home!

Beta: Ok.

Husband: (drops one dollar) Beta’s out.

Beta: (outraged) …what! Wait! WAIT !THAT’S NOT FAIR I WAS JUST ACKNOWLEDGING I HEARD YOU! (proceeds to complain for the next twenty five miles)

Gamma: (hums to herself)

Delta: (stone silent)

Me: (laughs silently for the next thirty miles, pulling a rib muscle)

Bonding Moments

(scene opens on sidewalk for a twilight walk)

Me: (hopeful) So, Beta. Since we’re doing some mother-son bonding, is there anything you wanted to ask me about? Anything you were curious to know?

Beta: (thinks) Hmmm. Is cereal a soup?

Me: (sighs, disappointed) Yes.

Beta: (surprised) Wha….really? Oh. (doubles down) Are potatoes amazing?

Me: (more sighs) Yes.

Beta: Am I a potato?

Me: No.

Beta: (laughs in gotcha) So I’m not amazing?

Me: (gives up) Nice use of logic. This is what we’re doing now. Right. Okay, here we go. “God is love, love is blind, Ray Charles is blind, Ray Charles is God”.

(Beta stops in his tracks, Carrot continues to walk)

Beta: No. NO! That’t can’t….I don’t even know who Ray Charles is! It’s not true! If I don’t know who it is, it doesn’t work!

Me: (calls over her shoulder) Gotta refute better than that.

Random Encounter

Me: Okay, Universe – I really got to sleep tonight, I’m totally wiped out. It’s hotter than hell and the windows are open. Please no drunk AM fireworks, car alarms, random dogs, incontinent skunks, street racers. Can you do that for me?

Universe: Sure.

Alpha: (falls down the stairs at 1 am)

Me: (murderous) What the hell are you doing, Alpha?!

Alpha: Bat in our room.

Me: (stares) Seriously.

Universe. LOL

Important Distinctions

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Gamma: (laying on the floor, watching Loki confront Thanos) Mom? I thought Loki was a bad guy. Why is he being a good guy now.

Me: (scrambles) Oh…uh…he’s not always bad. He’s what’s called a “Trickster”. They’re sometimes bad and sometimes good. You just never know what he’s going to do.

Gamma: (ponders) Loki is a sometimes friend. A Frenemy.

Me: Exactly.

Bard From Another Timeline

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Alpha: (stares angrily into space)

Me: (notices this, takes off headphones) What can I help you with?

Alpha: (frustrated) I’m supposed to read these short stories and write something about culture and how it defines us. You can’t help me.

Me: (sips coffee) Tell me about one of the stories. Maybe I can help you break down some thoughts.

Alpha: You can’t!

Me: Try me.

Alpha: Well, one is about this girl who’s embarrassed to stand in front of a 14 year old man and her dad burps when he eats fish. See? You can’t help me.

Me: (sips more coffee) By any chance is the 14 yr old boy the son of the pastor? A boy she has a crush on? When they come over for dinner, she’s totally embarrassed by the way her Chinese family is eating, and about dies when her dad offers her fish cheeks as the best part of the meal?

Alpha: (stares)

Me: So, yeah, that story is called “Fish Cheeks” and I read it when I was in school. A hundred years ago.

Alpha: (stares louder)

Me: (slurps coffee) Wanna tell me about the other two?

Alpha: (pouts, gets up, collects headphones) I’m going to join the Zoom classroom and ask questions.

Confidence

(scene opens with Carrot sitting on the edge of the bed with laptop, Husband enters to talk to her, Gamma close on heels)

Husband: (turns) I told you, go get dressed.

Gamma: (flounces out)

Husband: (to Carrot) So, I thought that –

(noise off screen, the sound of falling and crashing of metal bits)

Gamma: (calls offscreen) It’s okay! Nothing’s wrong! Everything’s fine!

Me: (heroically suppresses laughter) Are you sure?

Gamma: No reason to get involved!

(Husband and Carrot, strain to keep from laughing, fade to black)

Lead Me Not Into

(scene opens in dark dinning room)

Gamma: (creeps in)

Me: (annoyed) It’s 5:30, what are you doing up?

Gamma: I’m starving.

Me: (sighs) You’re always starving. Get some breakfast.

(hour long montage of nine-year old babble to fill the silence, most of it so fast as to be intelligible)

Gamma: (for the third millionth time) Mom?

Me: (biting) What.

Gamma: What does “nuisance” mean?

(camera close up on Carrot, sweat dramatically dotting forehead, fade to black)

Good Clean Fun

(scene opens in chaos filled parlor, video game war in progress)

Me: That’s it. (turns off Xbox, picks up remote) We’re going to watch something fun.

(collective groan from four children)

Me: Here. We’re going to watch the 2019 Marblelympics.

(silence as marble filled lego stands comes on the screen)

Alpha: (full of teen angst) What in fresh hell is this?

Gamma: I’m Green Ducks!

Delta: I’m Savage Speeders!

Beta: (scowls at the tv) This is cancer.

Husband: (rushes in) Who’s winning, did I miss anything?

Me: No, they just lit the torch.

Husband: This is very exciting. I hope Oceanics does well this year.

Alpha: That’s it, I’m going for a walk.

Price of Nerdity

(scene opens in gloomy dining room)

(montage cut scenes of four children not able to exist without active involvement of their mother)

Me: (slams laptop shut) THAT’S IT!

(collective silence)

Alpha: (too little too late) Guys, you have to leave mom alone, she’s taking a test.

Beta: (having missed the last ten memos) What kind of tests?

Me: I am trying to take my Starfleet exams and I just got my first “pass” and just ruined my grade point average.

Alpha: (smirks) Starfleet? Oh, you’re playing game.

Me: (dangerous) I’m not. I’m reading .pdfs and taking tests. I’ve been homeschooling you all day, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me go to school.

Beta: (dismissively) It’s not even real school. Why would anyone pretend to go school?

Me: (hotly) Because that is what geeks do! Geeks go to pretend schools from pretend realities to get pretend degrees in pretend subjects and then wear pretend alumni shirts for pretend college reunions and talk about their awesome pretend careers! (puts head in hands) I’ll never graduate with honors now.

Gamma: Why even learn all that stuff if its pretend?

Me: So my people will think I’m cool.

Bad Business

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (sorting Girl Scout cookies into piles)

Husband: (enters) I hear we have cookies to sell?

Me: Yes. These are what we have left. (camera cuts to mostly empty box)

Husband: Beta said we had Thin Mints.

Me: I just sold them to your brother.

Husband: My brother?! How could you? I was downstairs!

Me: I could hear you on a conference call.

Husband: I was downstairs!

Me: This has more to do with me selling them to your brother and not that I sold them before you could get off the call.

Husband: (outraged) Well obviously!

There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo

(scene opens in Woodman’s grocery, everyone masked, social distancing)

Me: (finds herself in aisle with two other women, pulls over to let traffic clear, keeps social distancing)

Woman #1: (starting to pass, wearing paper mask) That is a lovely mask, it fits so well!

Woman #2: (stops, well fitting cloth mask) Thank you, I made it myself!

Woman #1: I’ve been trying to find a place to get one, I’m running out of the paper ones.

Woman #2: Oh! I can make you one! Give me your contact information and I’ll send you one tomorrow.

Woman #1: Really? Oh! That would be lovely!

(women exchange information, turn to look at Carrot)

Woman #2: I’m sorry, we’re blocking traffic.

Me: I’m good. Carry on. No rush.