Experiential Wisdom

(scene opens in Christmas mall, Carrot wandering between Alpha and Gamma)

Me: This was the mall that I used to hang out at as a kid.

(Alpha and Gamma side eye Carrot)

Me: When I was your age (pokes Alpha) our parents would drop us off at a particular door, tells us to be back there at a certain hour, and just leave us here with our friends to wander, hang out, and shop. It was like teenage day care.

Gamma: (excitedly) Did you ever buy anything?

Me: (snorts) With what money? No, it was mostly hanging out. At Christmas, before internet, you’d make lists of things you wanted and shared them with the family. Then the whole family would go to the mall, you’d get your list, and then separate to go buy things for everyone.

Alpha: (confused) Why don’t we do that?

Me: What kid had enough money to buy everyone presents? Presents that were “good enough”? It used to make your Auntie K and I so anxious with the pressure of getting the “right thing”. I never wanted that for you, that expectation that you have to buy people gifts just because. So I never pressed you guys to buy gifts for one another. I want you guys to grow up giving gifts because you like the person and want to do something nice. Something special. The holidays are stressful enough as is. And you kinda need a source of income before you can do that anyway.

Gamma: Can we hang out at the mall anyway? (shock and awe) Did you see the food court?!

Alpha: (skeptical) What’s fun about hanging out at a shopping place?

Me: (sighs) It was a different time.

Alpha: Your childhood was wierd.

Not pulling punches.

(scene opens in harried dinning room, Carrot combing the hair of a suffering Delta)

Gamma: Mom, did you know there are people who think the earth is flat?

Me: (just not having it this morning) Yes. They’re stupid. There are some people in this world who – no matter the unarguable truth you put before them – will only believe what they want to believe. Although its possible some don’t, they just like picking fights and watching people get upset. They’re stupid too. Avoid them.

Delta: But mountains! The earth isn’t flat because mountains.

Me: Wrong kind of flat. It’s bumpy, but they think the earth isn’t shaped like a ball, but like a frisbee.

Gamma: Why do they think that?

Me: (aggravated, puts hands to head) People who believe conspiracy theories do so because its an issue of control. Or power. You can’t tell them what to do. You aren’t the boss of them. If you told them the sun set in the west, they’d argue it sets in the north just because they want to be right. Not correct. But right. Being right and being correct are two different things, and they’re so convinced of their super smarty better-than-you selves, that they cling to conspiracy lies just so they can lord it over people that “Ha ha, I know the truth and you don’t!” and give themselves a sense of self-worth.

Gamma: There’s a kid in my class who says the earth is flat.

Me: Don’t be friends with those kinds of people. Its just not worth it.

Gamm: Wait, there are other people like that?!

Me: Damn, girl, they’re everywhere. And they’re not worth your time.

Setting mood and theme.

(scene opens in small kitchen. Platters of frozen ingredients thawing: everything from meat to mulberries. Kitchen aid-mixer running.)

Me: (muttering to self) Bread going, where are the peppers?

(Carrot take down small red glass jar, holding five small red pepper. Carefully shakes one out, begins to de-seed. Crumbles to near dust in her hands.)

Me: Damnit, they’re too old. I can’t use these.

(Pepper flakes re-bottled, Carrot turns back to mixer, tests dough with finger.)

Me: Damnit, too watery and I’m out of flour.

(Carrot absently licks fingers. Freezes. Surprised look on her face.

Me: Oh. They’re not too old.

(Carrot claps hand over her mouth, begins hunting for coffee mug, downs it)

Alpha: (Watching. Points.) Ha. Ha.

Me: (blinks rapidly) Legit.

Bail! Bail! Bail!

(scene opens in early morning dinning room, several bouquets of multi colored roses on the table)

Me: (reading email, drinking coffee)

Beta: (sees card, picks it up to read it, item drops out) Mom? What’s this?

Me: Your father gave that to me. We’ve been married twenty years today. That’s my golden watch.

Beta: (with relief) Oh good. I was hoping dad got this for you and wasn’t some toy of Delta’s laying around. You know that there’s no way he bought this by itself, right? That this was probably some Paw Patrol set and there’s a bunch of other Paw Patrol stuff just laying around the house somewhere.

Me: Going the extra mile for the joke is why I like your dad so much.

Beta: It kinda makes sense he’d give you a gold watch. I mean, you’re kinda retired. You don’t work.

Me: (mildly) I don’t work?

Beta: (recovering) You don’t work for money. Dad works for money and you kinda hang out here with him.

Me: (obviously laying a trap) Oh. I just hang out here and let dad do all the work.

Beta: (sweating) No! That’s not –

(footsteps off screen announces the arrival of Husband)

Husband: (blinking in the bright light of the dinning room) What are you doing up so early?

Me: (gets up, kisses husband) I was going to sneak out and get you a card, but I forgot that pandemic means nothing opens before 6 am any more. Beta loves the gold watch you got me. Said it made sense since I don’t work.

Husband: (gives Beta “you done messed up” look)

Beta: (dramatically flails arms)

Me: (sitting, picks up coffee) Also told me that you work, and I just kinda hang out.

Husband: (dramatically alarmed, looks at Beta) Run.

(Husband flees off stage, not pursued by a bear)

Beta: (mean mugs Carrot) That’s not what I meant! I know you work hard!

Me: Extra mile for the joke, honey. Have a good day at school.