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)