Responsibilities

(scene opens in early morning dinning room, windows still dark)

Me: (still in bathrobe, coffee in hand, obviously up before go time)
Gamma: (bright, bubbly, dressed for school, playing on kid Kindle) Momma? How come you get to travel all the time and not me?
Me: (glances at 5:30 am clock time, to early to talk) Dunno.
Gamma: Is it because you’re the adult?
Me: (sighs) Maybe. (clutches coffee, closes eyes)
Gamma: Is it because you’re famous?
Me: (opens eyes) Not exactly. I’m Nerd Famous. Its a little different.
Gamma: (crosses arms) Well, I’m famous too. I’m the Princess of Dreamland and I should get to travel!
Me: (presses coffee cup to forehead) Well, if you’re the Princess of the Dreamlands, then maybe you need to spend more time there. Your people need you.
Gamma: (turns up nose, pokes at Kindle)

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Science might happen

(scene opens in oddly clean kitchen)

Beta: What are we having for dinner?
Me: (cleaning down counter) Ribs.
Beta: (distressed) I don’t like ribs! I have all the ingredients for my quesadillas and I haven’t made them yet.
Me: (affronted) What do you mean you don’t like ribs? Its cow. Cow is steak. You like steak.
Beta: It has bones!
Me: Steak sometimes has bones in it! Think of it as steak on the cob! You can eat it with your hands!
Beta: (tilts head) Can you do that? Cook steak on the cob? Around the corn?
Me: (stops cold) I…don’t know. I suppose you could. Get some really thin steak, tenderize it, get a good rub, wrap it around the cob and then grill?
Beta: Like really thick bacon.

(both pause, re-considering life goals)

Me: Wow.
Beta: Yeah. Wow.

(music crescendos, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Distilled

(scene opens in busy Starbucks, camera follows tea carrying individual through crowd to fireplace seating area)

Me: (looks up from phone, sees Childhood Bestie) Hey.
CB: Nice seats. (settles in)
Me: Right? Very comfy. (picks up cooling coffee, takes a sip, flinches and grimaces)
CB: (WTF look)
Me: Christmas blend. (grimace intensified)
CB: And?
Me: (another cautious sip) Tastes like 2018.
CB: (nod of understanding)

Fashion Commentary

(scene opens in parlor)

Me: (scrutinizing daughter) Did you get those pants from grandma for Christmas?
Gamma: (jumping around) I don’t know.
Me: I like the color, but they look awfully snug.
Gamma: That’s just the fashion, momma.
Me: (frowns) I’m not a big fan of jeggings. Do you like them?
Gamma: (bouncing on a mini trampoline) Yes! They’re pretty!

(follows several scenes of daughter running through room, mother staring perplexed)

Me: (resigned) Gamma, come here please. I need to look at those pants.
Gamma: (obediently walks over, turns round so mom can check tag)

(camera close up on size 4T)

Me: Oh dear gods, you’re wearing your little brother’s pants.
Gamma: So?
Me: You’re eight. He’s three. Go take them off and change into something else!
Gamma: I was wondering why they were a little tight.

Behind the 8 Ball

(scene opens at New Year’s table, Dominion being set up amid the snacks)

Me: Alpha, where are you?
Alpha: (offscreen, sullen) Here.
Beta: C’mon dude, we’re going to play a card game!
Alpha: (deeper sullen) No.
Me: (frustrated) Alpha, would you please come to the table? It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re doing new family traditions. Could we play some games, please?
Alpha: (storms into the room) No! I don’t want to do nerd things! I don’t want to be a nerd!
Me: (dies a little, mists up) Oh honey, you have no idea how badly you’ve already lost that fight.

New Year Spirits

(scene opens in rainy parking lot, loading groceries in the car)

Beta: (going as slow as possible, everything weighs a thousand pounds)
Me: (exasperated) Is there a problem, Beta?
Beta: You didn’t get me bubble gum. Or Coke.
Me: (incredulous) I got a crate of flavored hot cocoa. I got hot pretzels. Sparkling cider. Doritos. Pizza rolls. Lemonade, chocolate milk, and Goose Island root beer. A box sampler of Jelly Belly beans! Pie and whipped cream! You’re going to pout about Coke and bubble gum?
Beta: (sags a little and mumbles) But I like Coke and bubble gum.
Me: You are my saddest panda. That’s your spirit animal. Sad Panda. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the saddest trombones in the background, playing for the world’s saddest panda. (makes sad trombone noise)
Beta: (sags further, the embodiment of suffering) But bubble gum….
Me: We have so much New Year’s eve snack food, you won’t have time to chew bubble gum. Trust me. Get in the car, Sad Panda. Its cold out here.

In Jokes Make Everything Better

(cut scene-flashback, opens in foyer of Universal Studios hotel, two people having a conversation)

Me: (quietly) Beta, you’ve been talking about food all day.
Beta: I’m hungry all day.
Me: (epiphany moment) Beta, do you eat your feelings?
Beta: (serious face) Yeah. (dork face) Its because they’re so delicious.
Me: (letting it go, talks for other times) Well, its because you put cheese on them.

(flash forward, six people in parked van, most red eyed from crying)

Everyone: (collectively mired in personal misery and sorrow)
Husband: (reaches out, touches wife’s arm gently to get attention, mimes eating)
Me: (nods, collects self, sits up straighter, calls over shoulder) Beta? Do you want to go put cheese on our feelings?
Beta: That’d be great.
Me: (waves to husband to work the car machine)
Gamma: Why are we putting cheese on our feelings?
Husband: I think we’re getting something to eat.

Moral Support

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (head in hands, giving up)
Husband: Is there anything I can do to make it better?
Me: (morose) No. Nothing went right this week and I’m raising wild and incompetent meat puppets.
Husband: (sits down along side, wraps arms around wife) You’re a good mom.
Me: (pathetically) Really?
Husband: Not the best mom.
Me: Seriously?
Husband: (going for broke) Probably not even in the global top ten. Realistically, above average. But you’re a good mom. I mean, technically your only job is to keep them alive! So far all that hard work is really paying off, despite their best attempts otherwise.
Me: (weak laugh)

Enlistment

(scene opens in festive front parlor)

Me: (sipping coffee, reading laptop)
Beta: (storms into the room) We have a camp out this weekend?!?
Me: Hmm? (doesn’t look up)
Beta: Dad just told us we have to pack for a Boy Scout trip this weekend! No one told me we had a campout!
Me: First, they’ve been talking about it for weeks. Secondly, you missed the reminder last meeting because you were home catching up on a semester’s worth of homework you managed to forget.
Beta: (outraged) That’s just it! You can’t just sign me up for whatever camp out you want me to go on and then not tell me!
Me: (with satisfaction) On the contrary. I can. I did. You’re going. Don’t forget your wool socks.

Lingual Conundrum

(scene opens at cluttered dinning table)

Gamma: (falling apart) I don’t know how to write a sentence in Spanish for this word! I don’t know the meaning of this word! (collapses over worksheet)
Me: (temper fraying, goes to Google Translate) Uh….”gitano” means…gypsy? (finches) That can’t be right. (close up on screen repeats definition)
Gamma: What does gypsy mean?!?
Me: (flinches again) Uh…its an ethnic group…
Gamma: (wailing) HOW DO I USE IT IN A SENTENCE!?!?
Me: (closes eyes, steels herself) Can you write “I like gypsy music?”
Gamma: (in tears) WHAT IS GYPSY MUSIC?
Me: (grimaces, calls up Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple” on YouTube)
Gamma: (covers ears) THIS IS AWFUL! TURN IT OFF!
Me: (does so)
Gamma: (laboriously writing, speaking aloud) Mi mama me gusto…

No Justice

Me: (enters, drops backpack and duffle bag)
Husband: (gives welcome home kiss) Did you have fun?
Me: Yes. I’m also starved. What was for dinner? (opens fridge, hunting left overs)
Husband: Bacon and eggs.
Me: (disappointed) Oh. (continues to look for something else)
Husband: I had gotten them for breakfast but we ended up having them for dinner because the kids let me sleep in.
Me: (snaps up straight, repeats as if tasting unfamiliar words) They….they let you….sleep in?
Husband: (working hard for straight face) I asked them why they did that. They said that I looked tired.
Me: (lets ‘fridge door drift close, repeats slowly as if to understand alien concept) They let you sleep in (pause, as if thinking) because you looked (significant pause) tired?
Husband: (gives in to helpless laughter) I told them you were going to be pissed.
Me: Pissed, nothing. I’m going to straight up murderlize them.

Fun Sponge

(scene opens at crowded breakfast table)

Beta: Mom! Mom! Mom!
Me: (shuffles out of kitchen, clutching coffee)
Beta: I got a question for you!
Gamma: (giggles conspiratorially)
Me: Hit me.
Beta: (smugly) What came first? The chicken or the egg?
Me: (sips coffee) The egg.
Beta: (not expecting an answer) How do you figure?
Me: Dinosaurs laid eggs. Birds evolved from dinosaurs. Chickens are birds. (sips coffee)
Gamma: (changes the direction of her laughter)
Beta: Wow, mom. Way to ruin a good riddle.
Me: I live to serve. (shuffles back into the kitchen)