Desperate times

(scene opens in cluttered dining room, phone ringing)

Me: (considers caller ID, decides to risk it) Hello?
Phone Lady: Hi, how are you today? We’ve been trying to get a hold of you about qualifying for a lower rate on your credit card! Let me take moment to ask you a few questions…
Me: You could start with telling me what credit card this is for.
Phone Lady: (pause, nervous laughter, tries to get back on script)…because this is our last chance to…
Me: Which credit card is this for?
Phone Lady: …see if you still qualify before we close this file.
Me: I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify, so go ahead and close my file. OKAY! THANKS! BAI! (hangs up)
Alpha: (observing) You were much nicer to her than dad would be.
Me: Times are hard, Alpha. Just because she sold her soul in order to put dinner on the table doesn’t mean I have to be a dick about it.

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Poor Investments

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Me: (picks up Warhammer book off the table) Where did this come from?
Husband: My brother accidentally ordered two and gave one to Alpha.
Me: Oh, okay then. (flips through book) Alpha was looking at it earlier and showed me some of the armies. He wants to start collecting figurines for painting.
Husband: (look and sound of distress)
Me: What?
Husband: He’ll never have money for rent.

Growing up the hard way

(scene opens in parlor sweatshop)

Gamma: Mommy! What cake are we having for dinner?
Me: (around a mouthful of pins) We don’t have any cake.
Gamma: (scandalized) No cake?!? But it’s your birthday! Why don’t you have any cake!?!
Me: (Pressing seams in a cloud of scalding steam) Because no one got me a cake.
Gamma: Don’t worry mommy. I have money. I’ll go buy you a cake.
Me: (stops to contemplate if there are any cake places in walking distance) No sweetie, save your money. Adults don’t always get cake on their birthdays.
Gamma: That’s sad.

Inconsistent Application

(scene opens in dim foyer)

Me: Alpha, why are you wearing four shirts under your uniform?
Alpha: Because I might get cold. Dress in layers.
Me: Sweet zombie Jebuz. Your father told you dress in layers for camping, not for when we’re going to be indoors all the time. Take off those extra shirts!
Alpha: (steps behind door to de-layer, returns and hands mother shirts)
Me: Now get on your jackets and go to school.

(boys put on flimsy fleeces, girl puts on puffiest ski coat)

Me: (exhausted by stupidity) Alpha, why – if you’re cold enough to wear four shirts indoors where the heat is on – are you putting on the thinnest jacket you have to brave the cold rain? Don’t you think that – if it is that cold out – you might want a warmer jacket?
Alpha: (sullen) Maybe. (storms off into the freezing rain)
Beta: (conversationally) It is cold out. Maybe if I had the gloves dad took, I could wear those and be warm.
Me: (closes eyes) You mean the gloves you were wearing all day on Saturday when it was warm and sunny and you were complaining of being too hot and dad took them from you because you were being dumb?
Beta: (thinks about it) Yeah. I guess so. (steps out into the freezing rain in too small fleece)

Math is hard

(scene opens in sweatshop living room)

Beta: (getting up from laying on the floor reading) Going to the bathroom, mom. I must have read…like…thirty pages!
Me: (tracing pattern) Well, considering that the pages are numbered, if you’re on page thirty you did indeed read thirty pages.
Beta: True. (leaves room)
Me: (puts down chalk, checks Harry Potter book on the floor.)

(Camera close up on pg 75)

Double Dippin’

(scene opens in dim basement)

Me: (abstractedly, playing Zuma) Gamma? Would you like to join Boy Scouts?
Gamma: (over the top shocked face)
Me: You don’t have to, I just wondered if you’d be interested. They’re letting girls join.
Gamma: (in heavy sarcasm) I’m the only girl in this house, what do you think?
Me: (ignores inappropriate sarcasm levels) I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking.
Gamma: I’m the only girl in this house! I want a hundred sisters! I’m obviously going to stay in Girl Scouts!
Me: (sigh) Okay. I was just wondering.
Gamma: (heartbeat) Wait! If I join Boy Scouts I can have a hundred brothers and a hundred sisters! Sign me up!
Me: (wonders if she has that much time and organizational ability)

Lingual Angst

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (types word into Google translate for correct pronunciation) Okay Gamma, first spelling word: Calabaza.
Gamma: (scribbles it down, shows mother)
Me: ….Couv? Try again (hands back paper) Ca-la-ba-za.
Gamma: (tries again)
Me: …Trqb? (temper rising) No. Try. Again. Ca. La. Ba. Za.
Gamma: (hurriedly marks paper)
Me: CLBZ? Do you not hear vowels?! What’s a vowel?
Gamma: (nervous) Person, place, or thing?
Me: (flips table) Go to your room. I have to write a letter to your teacher.

Big Brother is Mommy’s friend

(scene opens in dim dinning room)

Me: (putting lunch box on the table) I packed your lunch, Gamma. Do you like being able to get milk at the cafeteria?
Gamma: (slurping cereal) Yeah. I get chocolate.
Me: That’s nice. No more rice krispy treats. That account is for milk only.
Gamma: (pauses, stares wide eyed)
Me: I can see online what you’re buying and I have the same problem with your brothers. That food account is for milk and lunches, not treats and chips.
Gamma: That’s creepy.

As you do

(scene opens with two women looking over the map, making travel plans)

Her: This route will take us past the Cadillac Ranch. A few minutes out of our way, but good for a photo op.
Me: Does the brothel have a buffet? Is it even safe to eat at a brothel buffet? I don’t know the protocol on that.
Her: (stares incredulously)
Me: Am I thinking something else?
Her: (continues to stare)
Me: OH! Mustang Ranch! I totally confused my art installation with my famous brothel. Gotcha.

In the pursuit of fairness

(scene opens in a cluttered kitchen, mother in argument)

Me: He does do chores, you just don’t see them!
Beta: But I do a load of dishes and Alpha is never here and I never see him doing a load of dishes.
Me: He does! I make him wash dishes! You’re downstairs watching t.v!
Beta: But I never see him, its not fair, I’m the only one who does…
Me: (yelling) For the love of god! He has to re-wash half the things you do because you do such a piss poor job of it! Tell you what, after you’re done doing a load, you can stand here and watch Alpha do a load. Instead of twenty minutes of you arguing with me and twenty minutes of you farting around barely using a sponge, you can stand here for another twenty minutes and watch your brother doing dishes so that way you can verify that in no way, no how, is there a chance that you are doing one hair more of work than Alpha and you are perfectly equal in effort and time.
Beta: (crying) But that means he gets forty minutes of more XBox time!
Me: (murderous sociopathic calm) Consider next time how important it is that you stick your nose into everyone else’s business.