Return Serve

(scene opens in sun drenched kitchen)

Beta: (throws up hands) Welcome to the one year anniversary of the two week lock down!

Me: (checks FitBit) Not yet. You have a couple of days. Unfortunately. (refreshes coffee)

Beta: Why unfortunately?

Me: We’ve been inside so long, I’ve forgotten how to people

Beta: (crouches down to scritch Doggo) Did you ever know how to people?

Me: (uses foot to knock him over) You’re a jerk. (starts to laugh)

Beta: (also laughs) I learned it from my parents!

Me: Not wrong. Still a jerk.

Exhibit A

(scene opens in sunny dinning room)

Me: (tiredly gathering up pandemic homeschool supplies)

Beta: (laying on floor in sunbeam with doggo) Mom? Which do you love more, the kids or the dog.

Me: (sighs) Well, the dog doesn’t argue with me about every. single. thing. I. say. so maybe I love the dog best.

Beta: Except when he’s pulling on the leash or not sitting when you tell him or chewing on things he’s not supposed to…

Me: Hey Beta? You’re kinda proving my point.

Beta: …..damnit.

The Darkest Timeline

(scene opens in sun bright dinning room)

Me: (sees Bigs stumbling into the kitchen) Morning guys. I got a phone call last night that today is supposed to be a snow day.

Beta: (opens fridge, pauses) Supposed to be?

Me: (typing) If you were actually at school, it would be a snow day. But, since half the student body is on camera, everyone is on camera today.

Beta: (overcome with sadness, door drifts shut) So. There’s no more snow days?

Me: (eyes on laptop, typing) Apparently not. Get some breakfast and log in.

Beta: This is the worst.

Me: (pauses) Yeah. I’m sorry.

(cue sad dramatic music, fade to black)

I guess he’s family now.

(flashback)

Me: So, do we call this one Epsilon?

Husband: (reprovingly) No. I want there to be some difference made between the kids and the dog.

Me: I’ve already called him Delta three times today.

Husband: (firmly) There needs to be a difference between the kids and the dog.

(cut-scene to evening dinning room)

Me: (settles self with hot drink, prepares to write, turns on Spotify)

Dog: (picks head up, side eyes) Woof.

Me: (looks over) What.

Dog: (deeper) Woof!

Me: Oh, I’m sorry, is my music bothering you? (shuts it off)

Dog: (more side eye, lays back down)

Me: Yeah, you’re Epsilon. I don’t know what Husband was thinking.

Here’s the wind up…

(scene opens in dim kitchen)

Gamma: Look at that chonky squirrel! I want a squirrel as a pet!

Husband: (looks out window) Eh, you can’t really have a squirrel for a pet. They’re not domesticated animals.

Gamma: Can I domesticate it?

Husband: You could tame one, but that’s different than domesticating.

Me: (looks up from making coffee) I don’t know how many generations it takes to domesticate something. Gamma, what you really want is to make some Crow Friends.

Gamma: How do you do that?

Me: Well, you need to feed them, but there are so many squirrels here, you’d need to call them to the yard first and then feed them.

Gamma: (skeptical) How do we do that?

Me: You can get a Crow Call on the internet.

Gamma: (skepticism deepens) A Crow Call?

Husband: Yeah! A Crow Call. Watch. (cups hands, leans towards window) HEY CROW! COME HERE CROW!

Gamma: (stares)

Me: (closes eyes) Seriously.

Husband: (laughs himself silly) I’m helpy!

Literature

(scene opens in Pandemic Homeschool)

Me: (miserable between two zoom meetings)

Delta: (fascinated by sing song story time)

Gamma: (talking to speech therapist) I have to read something out loud?

Me: (looks around quickly for suitable reading)

Gamma: (to screen) I have a copy of Terry Pratchett’s “The Hogfather” if that’s okay? (hold up book taken from stack of stuff)

Me: (dumbfounded)

Gamma: (begins to read “The Hogfather” outloud to teacher)

Me: (silently)

Experience Counts

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)

Carrot: (cooking dumplings)

Husband: (hovering)

Gamma: (runs in, lips blue and glittery, holds up eyeshadow pallet) Mom! When can I use the eyeshadow?!

Carrot: (distracted) I forgot to order brushes. I’ll pick some up tomorrow and you can play around with it.

Husband: She can use sponges for that, right? (Goes to mudroom cabinet)

Carrot: What? Wait! No! She can’t use those!

Husband: Why not? I used them to put on make up.

Carrot: Clown make-up!

Husband: I fail to see the difference.

Carrot: Point. But no. Could everyone just believe the one person in this room that actually has worn make-up? I’ll get the right brushes tomorrow.

Husband: I’ve worn make up. I’m also the person who has worn make-up most recently.

Carrot: CLOWN MAKE-UP!

Husband: Again, I fail to see the difference.

Helping the Revolution

(scene opens in cluttered dining room, Pandemic Homeschool in progress)

Carrot: Okay after you draw your picture, we have to write sentences.

Delta: (scribbles out a snowman) Done!

Carrot: Write “My snowman has long hair”

(twenty minute montage of this being attempted)

Delta: Done!

Carrot: (slightly frazzled) Okay, is your snowman a boy or girl? A he or she? Or is your snowman a they?

Delta: (thinks) My snowman is a they. Because snowmen can be boys or girls.

Carrot: Awesome. Write “They have long arms”.

(another twenty minute montage as Carrot sinks deeper into her coffee)

Delta: Mommy, this is my last one. Teacher says I only have to do two sentences, not three.

Carrot: (sigh) Honey, I am your teacher.

The children are our future.

(scene opens in brightly lit kitchen)

Husband: (preparing to cook dinner)

Carrot: (staying out of his way) I was reading this moderately alarming article about how Covid has tanked the birthrate. Add that to the Covid death rate, that’s a significant population drop. There’s going to be some massive demographic shifts fairly soon.

Husband: Now stop to think all the Millenials that can’t afford to buy houses and start families and that Gen Z isn’t going to be able to do that either.

Carrot: A faster and bigger drop. (thinks) Y’know – even though we have four kids, its very possible we won’t have any grandchildren.

Husband: (washing a dish) Oh, I don’t know about that. Alpha is good looking and prone to making bad decisions.

Carrot: (with adoration) Awww. Just like his father!

Husband: (turns, glares, kisses Carrot’s forehead) Nice.

Carrot: I know.

The gift that keeps on giving.

(flashback)

Big Boys: (yelling) Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, dad!

Husband: It’s okay to be wrong.

(scene opens in Christmas flavored pandemic parlor)

Husband: (unwrapping present, pauses in wonder) Oh. You didn’t.

Big Boys: (yelling) Mom! You didn’t!

Me: (smug) Now every year we can read it on Christmas eve and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Big Boys: (yelling) Mom!

Me: Maybe you’ll stop complaining about being forced to watch the Hogfather every Christmas eve?

Beta: I thought you loved us.

Me: I love your father more.

Ars Gratia Artis

(scene opens in dining room)

Me: (slowly and carefully assembling flower pieces)

Beta: (enters from kitchen) Those are really pretty mom. Can I pick one up?

Me: (abstractly) Sure. Be careful.

Beta: Now what are you going to do with them?

Me: (sighs) I don’t know.

Beta: Something else to lay around the house and gather dust?

Me: (reprovingly) Maybe. Not all art is profitable. Sometimes we do it anyway. Because we can. It makes the world a prettier place.

Tough Crowd

(scene opens in dining room)

Delta: (watching Carrot light Advent candles) What are those for mommy?

Me: Each week we light one to remind ourselves what’s important; Peace, Hope, Love…

Husband: (interrupting from foyer) Profits for the candle manufacturers.

Me: ….and Joy. Which your father is.

Delta: No, he is pain and despair.

Me: Well then.

Husband: I heard that.