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)

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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.

That’s not how any of it works

(scene opens in parlor sweatshop)

Gamma: Mom, how much money do you have?
Me: (tracing out patterns) Not a lot. Why?
Gamma: Well, maybe you and daddy and I could put all our money together and buy a foster child so I can have a sister.
Me: (stops tracing) That’s not how it works, sweetie.
Gamma: But I need a sister. I’m all alone in this house with all these boys. Don’t you want me to have a sister and a friend?

Learning can be fun

(scene opens up in cleared dining room)

Alpha: (fumbling with project materials)
Me: Oh! Solar models! You can talk about totality we saw in St. Louis. (picks up sun-earth-moon model and arranges them for the joke) Solar eclipse. Lunar eclipse. Apocalypse.
Alpha: (stares for a moment) No. This would be the apocalypse (removes moon) because if there wasn’t any moon to stabilize rotation….
Me: Try again. (repeats it slowly with emphasis on “clipse”)
Alpha: (stare gets darker) Ha ha. That wasn’t very funny.
Me: It’s all I’ve got today.

Survival Skillz

(scene opens in sterile school meeting room, long table filled with various school official types)

Me: (enters in, carrying Delta, places extra large box of Kleenex on the table) Please excuse me. I’ve serious allergies that Claritin-D cannot contain. (sits, blows nose several times)
Helpful Older Lady: You should try Afrin nose spray. One squirt will clear it up.
Assembled People: (collective murmurs of agreement)
Me: (gentle smile) I’m also using the Afrin Severe Congestion spray. With menthol.
Assembled People: (collective gasp)
Helpful Older Lady: (clutches pearls) My goodness. That sounds…aggressive.
Me: (blows nose) Not aggressive enough.

What does that even mean?

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Beta: Here mom, turns out we didn’t need this for school after all. The supply list was written by last year’s teacher and she’s not here.
Me: (takes thumb drive) Oh. Okay. (goes to put it in desk drawer)
Beta: Wait, don’t I get to keep it?
Me: What are you going to do with it? You don’t have access to a computer.
Beta: I’ll use it!
Me: Doing what?!
Beta: Filling it with dank memes! (assumes Troll Face)
Me: (WTF look) Go play.

For posterity

(scene opens in screaming banshee theater, sometimes known as the foyer)

Alpha: I want to wear what I want to wear!
Me: I just want you in a collared shirt! You want to be able to choose what you wear in the school photos, then you give me a week’s advance notice instead of forcing me to hunt down the photographer’s website and hunt for the school’s scheduled picture day based solely on the paperwork information your sister brought home for her picture day at a completely different school and a completely different day! You didn’t even know today was picture day until I told you!
Alpha: (sullen) School photos aren’t the real me.
Me: (snarls) School photos are for me and grandmas and all the other lame old ladies in your life that want lame cute photos of you hanging on their wall.
Alpha: Fine! (leaves stage left, slams door)

Contractual Obligations

(scene opens in dim basement rec room)

Me: (hot) Over the weekend you swore that all the laundry would get folded while you watched tv. Look. Not a single damn basket folded. You even tried to hide this basket behind the couch. Fold it. Now.
Beta: (whining) But….but… (tears on cue)
Me: I swear to god. This tv doesn’t go on until all the laundry is folded.
Beta: (turns and slouches away)
Me: Where the hell are you going?!
Beta: (sobbing) You said the tv couldn’t go on until the laundry is done, so I’m going to my room to read a book since I can’t watch tv.
Me: Sweet Zombie Jebuz! That threat means you fold the goddamn laundry! Do it now!
Beta: (more sobbing, limply picking up towels and wadding them together)
Me: (flees scene in attempt to stave off murder)