Hand Me Downs

(scene opens up in dim kitchen, soggy Boy Scouts dragging in)

Husband: (sitting on stool, prying off boots) Beta? Did you take the tent to the garage?

Beta: (tiredly) Yeah.

Me: (studies offspring) Beta, I have to get you a new uniform shirt, you’re about to pop buttons off of that, give it to me.

Beta: No mom. It’s fine. (unbuttons uniform anyway, hands it over)

Husband: Take the patches off and burn it. I doubt he’s washed it recently.

Me: I can wash it. (yells out) Gamma! Slither hither!

Husband: No.

(Gamma comes tearing in, Carrot hands over the scout shirt)

Gamma: (puts it on, only slightly oversized, starts flail-dancing)

Husband: Wow. That almost fits.

Gamma: (singing) We’re all growing up and I don’t like it. (runs from the room)

Husband: What the…

Me: That’s been my weekend. I’ll wash the shirt.

Soundtrack of our lives

(scene opens in pandemic parlor, music server up way too loud)

Jethro Tull: (blasting) War Child dance the days, and dance the nights away.

Me: (at embroidery frame, taking slow careful stitches)

Gamma: (comes running in, begins to dance, flailing in a mad frenzy of arms and legs)

Me: (pauses, watches over top of reading glasses)

Gamma: (sees her mother watching, flees the room)

Me: (to no one) Should have seen that coming.

(scene fades to black, music roars to silence)

Future Engineer

(scene opens in pandemic homeschool)

Beta: Mom, check my eyes? The question says “look at the slide on page eleven and describe a negative feed back loop”. But the slide that talks about negative feed backs is on page ten.

Me: And?

Beta: What should I do?

Me: Ignore page number and answer the question. The question is about negative feedback loop. Do you see the slide that talks about feedback?

Beta: Yes.

Me: Then talk about negative feedback.

Beta: (thinks a moment) I’m going to tell the teacher its on the wrong page.

Me: (sigh) Okay. But also answer the question about the negative feedback loop and don’t wait for her to say “Okay, look on page ten for the information”.

You talking to me?

(scene opens in dim cluttered kitchen)

Me: Delta, you didn’t wash dishes the other day. (puts bowl on the stack)

Beta: (stops, holding bagel) Delta?

Me: What?

Beta: You said Delta. He’s not old enough to do dishes yet.

Me: (looks around empty kitchen) Was I looking at you? I don’t care if I called you “Your majesty, Queen Elizabeth”, you know I’m talking to you. So. Your majesty. You didn’t do dishes yesterday. Get on that.

Beta: Right. Sorry. On it.

Distance Learning: K Edition

(scene opens at cluttered table)

Me: (bent over stale coffee gritting teeth) Again, Delta. Makes the “N” sound? List or Note?

Delta: (wailing) But I don’t know!

Me: Delta. What starts with the letter “N”? List or Note?

Delta: I don’t know!

Me: (surrenders, picks up toddler, tucks under arm, heads for stairs) Well, I guess you’re too tired to do your work. Nap time.

Delta: NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

Me: (stops) What letter does “No” start with?

Delta: THE LETTER N!

Me: (drops child) Is it the same sound as List or Note?

Delta: NOTE!

Me: (points to laptop) Go over there and push the right button so we can finish this level and move to the next one.

Drinking Our Feelings

(scene opens in cold rainy kitchen, kids stagger in)

Me: (ladling out into mugs) Here, the heavy cream was about to go bad, so I made homemade hot chocolate.

Gamma: (sips) Yeah….no. There’s too much chocolate.

Beta: (sips) Meh. Too much cinnamon.

Me: There is literally a dusting in there. Barely enough to scent it. You’re nuts.

Beta: (shrugs, places it on the counter, leaves)

Me: (hands Alpha a mug)

Alpha: (sullen) No. (leaves)

(scene fades to black with Carrot holding three mugs of heavy cream hot chocolate)

So Not Prepared

(scene opens in mini-van in the rain)

Delta: Mommy? Are you going to tell me a secret?

Me: What? (laughs in mom) No. I don’t have any secrets.

Delta: (incredulous) You’re not going to tell me secrets about love?

Me: What?! (scrambles) Uh…you can’t make people love you.

Delta: (dismissively) I already knew that. I want a different secret.

Me: (panicky) I don’t know how to explain this to a five year old. Uh…well…someone’s love won’t complete you. You have to be a whole person all by yourself.

Delta: That’s a good secret.

(ten minutes drive in silence, split screen between confused Carrot and contemplative Delta)

(pulls up in front of school, Carrot hops out to unbuckle Delta)

Dela: People forget the secrets their family tells them. I sometimes forget.

Me: (uneasy) It’s okay to forget sometimes.

Teacher: (walks up with digital thermometer for daily check) Looks like you’re good to go, buddy! Ready for a new day of kindergarden?

Delta: No. (walks slowly inside)

Me: (drives home in WTF)

Am Disappoint

(scene opens up in kitchen)

Me: (tiredly making lunch and drinking cold coffee)

Delta: Mommy, can I ask you some questions? (sits on stool)

Me: Sure honey, what’s wrong?

Delta: How many more days until life gets easy?

Me: (extreme feelz) I wish I could tell you.

Life is a dark room

(scene opens in apocalypse homeschool)

Me: (at kid table with Chromebook) Okay, this assignment is “Draw a picture about what you liked about the story and record talking about it.” Like the last four hundred videos we watched.

Delta: I don’t like anything.

Me: I know. But you have to stop submitting blank pages, the teacher doesn’t like it. Could you pretend? For mommy?

Delta: (fills in the page with a single color) It’s all black. I like black. (hits submit button)

Me: (sighs) That’s fine. Let me get some more coffee before the teacher emails me again.

First Impressions

(scene opens in bathroom, Carrot helping Delta wash hands)

Me: So, how was your first day of kindergarten? Did you have a good time?

Delta: (ambivalent) Yeah.

Me: Do you like your teacher?

Delta: Yeah. She’s already making my life hard.

Me: That’s nice. Only thirteen more years to go.

How to talk to them

(scene opens in early cluttered dining room)

Delta: (suddenly alarmed) Where’s Narbles?!

Gamma: (in kitchen) Over here! (camera cuts to squishmallow purple narwhal on the counter)

Me: Thank you, for finding her…. Hey, is Narbles a boy or a girl?

Delta: Um…Narbles is from the sea and a sea creature, so both.

Me: Oh. What do you call someone who’s both?

Gamma: (comes out of kitchen) A helicopter.

Me: You don’t call them a helicopter! That’s silly.

Gamma: (seriously) No, they’re helicopters. (holds up hands at 90 degrees) Helicopters have the blades on top and blades on the back. See? Both!

Me: That’s pretty good logic, but you can just say “they” if you don’t know or they say they’re non-binary.

Gamma: What’s binary?

Me: Binary is when you only have two choices. Non-binary would be a third option.

Gamma: Cool. Can I have Nutella for breakfast?

Me: (sigh) And that concludes the lesson. Sure, share with Delta.

(two kids throw up their hands cheering and run off screen)

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)