Old Fashion Hobby

(scene opens in dim dining room, homeschool hell in progress)

Me: (frowning, thinking, typing slowly)

Gamma: (comes around table to look over Carrot’s shoulder) Black Phoenix Alchemy? Is that for me? Because I like alchemy?

Me: (confused) What? No. Go back to your chair.

Gamma: (lingering) I’m curious.

Me: (sharply) Go!

Gamma: (flouncing away dramatically) Why isn’t it for me? Why won’t you let me do alchemy?

Me: (struggling to focus) Black Phoenix Alchemy is a perfume site, not alchemy.

Gamma: (bemoans) Why doesn’t anyone do alchemy any more?

Me: (trying to articulate) Now it’s called chemistry.

Gamma: Doesn’t sound as much fun as alchemy. I suppose I could do chemistry if I had to.

(Carrot puts head down on table, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Did you eat them?

(scene opens in dinning room)

Husband: (grouchy) Beta is wearing shorts.

Me: (too through) I told him to go through Alpha’s dresser for jeans if they’re not in his.

Husband: They say they don’t have any. Alpha has been wearing the same shorts for two weeks now.

Me: But…I went to Goodwill. In a mask. I bought a dozen. It’s a pandemic. We. Haven’t. Been. Anywhere.

Husband: (throws up hands)

Me: (still confused) All the laundry has been done.

Husband: I told them at lunch they’re going up to their room and finding all their pants.

(the two stare at one another)

Me: It’s gonna get real cold in here when the Polar Vortex comes and they have no pants.

Husband: I doubt that will motivate them.

The kid gets it.

(scene opens in dim dining room, pandemic homeschool in session)

Delta: (climbing into his chair) Mommy, I was made for two things.

Me: (clutching coffee mug) Oh yeah?

Delta: Yeah. Eating chocolate and playing games!

Me: Those are good things.

Delta: And loving you! (big cheese five year old grin)

Me: (sound of heart melting) That’s three things.

Delta: Yeah. I made a mistake.

Regrets? I’ve had a few…

(scene opens in morning parlor)

Me: (comes downstairs to collective cheers of MOM!) Hey guys. Beta, come here.

(scene changes to kitchen)

Me: (opens fridge, hands Beta large styrofoam cup) I thought it was going to be a can or 1-liter, but it’s a root beer. I ordered cheese fries last night and got you a rootbeer ’cause the pizza places never have them. It might be flat. Sorry about that.

Beta: That’s okay, mom. I’ll –

Alpha: (suddenly appears) Did I hear someone say cheese fries?

Me: (hands Alpha a styrofoam box) Here’s the last of them. I couldn’t finish them all.

(Gamma and Delta run in, chanting “Cheese Fries!”)

Me: Christ! I’m not awake yet! (rubs face) Alpha, could you share a little of your fries? Like I’m sharing with you?

Alpha: (resigned) Sure.

(twenty minute montage of arguing over cheese fries and lamenting not enough cheese fries and wanting moar cheese fries)

Me: (head in hands over cooling coffee) For the love of… I should have thrown them out. Why do you make me regret the things I do for you guys?

Gamma: Because we like food.

Delta: Because I’m five.

Beta: (smugly slurping root beer) Wow, when did he get self-aware?

Me: He’s always been more self-aware than the rest of you. Maybe you guys could go somewhere and let me have my coffee in peace?

Though she be but little…

(scene opens in post holiday dining room)

(Husband and Carrot existing)

Gamma: (hotly) You know what mom? I want cranberry sauce. And I want it now!

Me: (sigh) Sure. Go ahead. Why are you so angry?

Gamma: (savagely) Because I like it!

Husband: (faint laughter) God help her first boyfriend.

Me: (resigned) It’ll probably be for the best.

I feel seen

(scene opens in early morning kitchen)

Me: (muttering to self, running around first floor) Keys. Keys. Where are my keys? Wallet?

Husband: (from kitchen) THE BEST OF US!

Me: (finds keys, enters kitchen) What?

Husband: (sitting on stool, zipping up Delta’s jacket) Tell mom what you just said, Delta.

Delta: (bundled up, ready for school) You do the most work in the house.

Me: (surprised, serious) Yes. Thank you for noticing. Let’s get in the car.

Husband: Have a good day at school, Delta!

There Will Be a Test

(scene opens in dim kitchen)

Me: Beta, surprise quiz. If someone told you they supported White Supremacy then said “lol, just kidding”. Are they White Power or not?

Beta: They’re White Power.

Me: Why?

Beta: Because anyone who said that is just trying to cover it up. If they weren’t White Supremacists they wouldn’t joke about being one.

Me: Excellent critical thinking skills there. This goes back to the Two Rogers Rule….

Beta: (interrupts) I don’t know that one.

Me: If Mister Rogers and Steve Rogers wouldn’t do it, neither should you.

Beta: So I should jump out of an airplane without a parachute?

Me: Well, Mister Rogers never jumped out of a plane without a parachute, so I’m thinking you shouldn’t either.

Beta: Fair

Basic Education

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, Carrot helping Beta prep lunch)

Husband: Where’s the Vaseline?

Me: Metal cabinet? What do you need it for?

Husband: (holds up gauze square and Vaseline) Gamma hasn’t learned firestarting.

Me: Yes she has. (thinks) Okay, she might have memory lapse from that long ago. Dog memory.

Husband: No worries. We’re going to go firestarting. (heads out back door)

Me: (calls after) Twisted firestarting?

Husband: (shouts back) Maybe!

Beta: (stares in WTF)

Me: I’m a firestarter? Twisted firestarter? No? (sigh, grabs laptop) Hang on.

Beta: (watches required video in skeptical silence) Yeah. Sure. Okay. I’m gonna go make pizza now….

Me: You break my heart, Beta.

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.