(scene opens in cluttered dining room)
Beta: Mom what are these?
Me: (already through) What do they look like?
Beta: Star Wars books. But what are they for?
Me: Read the whole cover. (watches his eyes skip from the logo to the fine print at the bottom)
Beta: They’re for first grade.
Me: Beta, read the whole thing.
Beta – (long silence) OH! This one is for reading and this is writing. And math.
Me – Can you tell me why the last thing you read on this page was the big white letters, easily taking up 3/5ths of the page? Instead of maybe starting at the top and reading your way down?
Beta – Uh….I don’t know.
Me – (thinking about how much money she’s going to save on not sending kids to college)
(scene opens in kitchen, mother scooping ice cream)
Me: Thank you for bringing in Gamma’s bike, Beta.
Beta: (suspicious) What did she tell you.
Me: Thank you for bringing in Gamma’s bike.
Beta: What do you mean?
Me: (annoyed) I saw you put Gamma’s bike in the garage. Thank you.
Beta: Why are you thanking me?
Me: (throws spoon in the sink) Christ, Beta, you put Gamma’s bike away. Thank you for doing that. Is this where I compliment you for doing something nice without being asked and you use it as a moment to get someone in trouble?
Beta: (crossly) I didn’t do it to be nice, I took her bike away because she went to the park after you said she couldn’t.
Me: (puts ice cream away) You just can’t let an opportunity pass by, can you? You can’t just say “You’re welcome, Mom” when I tell you thank you for something. You just have to rat out the smallest infraction?
Me: You can get your own ice cream.
(scene opens in gloomy early morning dining room)
Me: (clicking laptop, nursing black coffee)
Gamma: (full of life and delight) Mom! Put this in your hair.
Me: (leans down without question, gets purple flower barrette clicked in place)
Gamma: There! Now you’re a real mom!
Me: I wasn’t a real mom before?
Gamma: Real moms wear flowers in their hair.
(scene opens in destroyed dining room)
Me: Alpha, I have something to talk to you about.
Me: Remember the hard time you used to have in school? The yelling, the running out of the classroom?
Alpha: You’re going to tell me that Gamma is doing the same thing?
Me: Yeah. For the same reasons. She’s got some kids picking on her. I thought that maybe you could talk to her and give her some advice on how it feels and how it’ll get better and how we’re trying to help.
Alpha: Okay. (leaves)
(short time passes)
Me: (heading downstairs to cluttered basement, finds Alpha) You’re playing Xbox?
Alpha: Yeah. Where else would I be?
Me: I thought you were talking with your sister and trying to help her out by sharing some of your hard earned wisdom.
Alpha: I have to do that now?
(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, sandwich fixings crowding the counter)
Me: Okay, Alpha, this is very important.
Alpha: (eyes fastened on the industrial sized jar of pickles) Piiiiicccckkkklllles
Me: Alpha. Do not drink the pickle juice. I can take that juice and put it in that ice cream maker (points to top of the cabinet) and we can have pickle juice slushies.
Alpha: (shocked) But….wait…pick…. I don’t think I want…
Me: Look into your heart, you know it to be true.
Alpha: Slushies. (in wonder) Of pickle juice.
Me: We can make this happen. You and me.
Alpha: (dazed look)
(scene opens in workspace, the floor ankle deep in bolts of fabrics)
Gamma: Mom! Can I have some fabric for making doll clothes?
Me: Sure. (paws through scrap pile for silk bits)
Gamma: Thanks mom! Hey, what are doll clothes.
Me: (pressing seam open in a cloud of steam) For dolls?
Gamma: No, what are they for?
Me: Doll clothes are for dolls to wear. (sits down at the serger)
Gamma: Mom, do you know anything about clothes?
Me: (side eye) Apparently not.
(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)
Delta: (pointing to top of cabinet at a bucket of Easter candy)
Me: No, that’s not yours. That’s Alpha’s.
Delta: (bird shriek)
Me: Too much candy will make you sick. No. Not yours.
Delta: (shriek intensifies)
Me: You’re lucky Alpha doesn’t like candy very much. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(time passes,scene changes to 23 month old in a high chair)
Me: Was it yummy?
Delta: (picks a masticated pile of what once might have been yellow peeps)
Me: Ready for nap time?
Delta: (looks up, face clearly saying “I have learned the true meaning of regret. Put me to bed.”)
(scene opens in unexpectedly clean kitchen)
Alpha: (bent over sink, head under running water)
Me: …and I can tell when you don’t use shampoo when showering because it doesn’t look clean and smells greasy.
Alpha: What does greasy smell like? Fried chicken?
Me: No, not exactly. It smells like…
Beta: (shrieking from dining room) BEE! A BEE! (runs into kitchen) MOM! A BEE!
Me: (throws towel on Alpha, goes to dining room, sees exceptionally large paper wasp on the chandelier) It’s okay, guys. Everyone stay cool and get me a towel.
Alpha: (hands over damp hand towel from trying his hair)
Me: (twirls it, eyeing wasp on chandelier. Rethinking plan, steps up onto dining room table and crushes wasp into towel)
Beta: Yay mom! You got the bee!
Alpha: Way to go mom!
Gamma: You’re so brave.
Me: Yeah I was kinda scared there. (crushes towel tighter to kill wasp, drops it on kitchen floor after gasping in pain, runs to sink, puts hand under cold water) Quick! Who has their shoes on!?
Kids: (collectively panics)
Me: Damnit! Who has their shoes on?! (sees Alpha has one on) Alpha! Step on the towel! Still alive!
Alpha: (figuring it out) I will avenge the Mother! (stomps on towel repeatedly, declaring vengeance until wasp shoots out the side)
Kids: (scatter squealing)
Me: (feeling faint, resting head on faucet) Where is it?
Beta: Behind the door!
Alpha: I’m on it! (squashes wasp dead, cleans up carefully under direction)
Gamma: Are you okay mommy?
Me: (pulls hand out of water, surveys palm, determines it was just a tip, not a full sting) I’ll be okay. It only hurts a little now.
Beta: Mom? Why is your hairbrush on the stove boiling?
Me: (closes eyes against the morning) I found lice in my hairbrush today.
Kids (scatter squealing)
(scene opens in gloomy dining room, dusted with Easter grass)
Beta: Where are all the eggs?
Me: I don’t know. You’ll have to look.
Beta: (looks out window, sees 100 plastic eggs on the yard) Oh my god.
Alpha: (turns to look) Dear lord.
Me: (sips coffee, smug)
Beta: How did our eggs get outside?!
Me: I don’t know.
Alpha: That’s never happened before. Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come inside?
Me: Dunno. Maybe the door was locked and he couldn’t get in.
Beta: Then where are our eggs if he couldn’t get the house?
Alpha: And where did he get all those eggs if he couldn’t get ours?
Me: He’s the Easter Bunny. He’s magic. Maybe he pooped them out.
Alpha: Well, I’m not touching them.
(scene opens a dining room table)
Beta: I couldn’t find Crackle or Snap in this word find. I did find Pop.
Me: (idly looks over to see the word puzzle on the cereal box)
Beta: I also found the word poo!
Me: Look closer. It’s ‘spoon’ not ‘poo’.
Beta: No! Look! Right there….oh….yeah, the word spoon.
Me: They wouldn’t have put ‘poo’ on a cereal box. Not on purpose.
Beta: They might have.
Me: Not if they wanted parents to keep buying Cocoa Krispies.
(scene opens in gloomy foyer)
Me: What took you so long?
Beta: I had to put my shoes on.
Me: Well, Gamma left without you.
Beta: (sounds of outrage and distress)
Me: You’ve been mean and rude to her all morning, she’s convinced you don’t like her, and now you’re going to be upset that she walked to school without you?
Beta: (Distress intensifies as he fights with his jacket)
Me: What did you think would happen? No one is going to waste time trying to be friends with someone who’s mean to them. And now you’re on your own. Have a nice day at school.
(scene opens on a front porch)
Gamma: I have a map, mommy! Look!
Me: (distracted glance, picking up a trike and screaming Delta) Lovely, honey.
Beta: (from inside) She can’t follow that map!
Gamma: I’m hunting for buried treasure! (pokes at X)
Me: Pirate treasure? (carries trike and Delta down the stairs to the sidewalk)
Beta: (comes to the door) That map is totally wrong!
Gamma: This is going to be an excellent adventure! It’s even written in my favorite pink color!
Me: I’m sure you’d have a great time. (paces slowly after Delta, walking his trike)
Gamma: Bye mom! (runs down the block)
Beta: (storms out of the house, yelling) Mom! You can’t let her follow that map! It’s totally wrong! She’ll get lost!
Me: For the sweet love of god, Beta, she’s not going to get lost.
Beta: (hysterical) Didn’t you see it? It was just a scribble on a page!
Me: (matching tone) Could you try to have an imagination? She’s not going to get lost! People call it “pretending” and she’s going to pretend to follow the map, run to the park, come right back and probably tell us how she sailed over the ocean and climbed a mountain and find pirate gold!
Beta: (undecided and pouting) There aren’t any mountai….
Me: Get back in the house before I slap some sense into you.