Life Lessons

(montage of setting the Bigs to tasks, finding them half finished, calling them back)

Me: (standing in dinning room, pointing) So. Those dinning room chairs you were going to put back around the table after you vaccum?

(cut to one chair at table, rest in the parlor)

Beta: (sheepishly) Oh. Yeah right.

Me: You guys need to be boomerangs. Come back to me. Not arrows and stick where you land.

Alpha: We’re Wal*Mart boomerangs.

Me: No. Strive to be top shelf boomerangs.

Alpha: We’re made in China. Not well made. (heads upstairs)

Me: (calls up after) You were most definitely not made in China. You were made in the U.S. It means you’re too expensive and no one will buy you!

Back to Normal

(scene opens in laundry room, Carrot knee-deep in clothing)

Me: (pulled laundry out of drier, makes face, pulls out “clean” sock and sniffs it, more ugly face)

Beta: (enters basement)

Me: Beta! Slither hither? (puts laundry of “clean” clothes on the drier) Did you do this load I just pulled out?

Beta: (moderately sullen) Yeah?

Me: (hands sock to sniff) When your socks come out of the dryer smelling like feet, it means they came out of the washer smelling like feet. Did you use detergent?

Beta: Yeah. I used one of those pods. (points to laundry detergent)

Me: Welp, they need to be done again then.

Beta: (without blinking, holds up scout sash, clearly savaged by a wild animal)

Me: Oh. Huh. Looks like Epsilon missed you while you were gone.

Beta: (sadly) Glad he stopped before he got to the merit badges.

Me: Those could have been replaced too. Put it on my sewing table. I’ll go to the scout shop tomorrow.

Time Capsule

Me: (frazzled in the door of Gamma’s room) Okay, for the last time, pick up all. the. books and put them on. the. shelf. There are twelves books on the floor and it has taken you (checks watch) five hours to avoid picking them up.

Gamma: But it’s boring.

Me: You know what makes it less boring> Putting all the books on the shelf in five minutes or less.

(Beta walks up behind, taps Carrot on shoulder, hands her a bag of scout badges)

Me: (stares dumbfounded) I oughta pinch you. These are Webelo badges.

Beta: Yeah? So?

Me: It means they’ve been sitting in a drawer or under your bed since fifth grade! That’s how long its been since you cleaned where ever you found these!

Beta: Yeah, well, I’m about half way done on the drawers.

Me: (hyperventilating)

Insight

(scene opens in cluttered basement, Supernatural on the tv)

Me: (walks through carrying coffee mug, stops)

TV: (Sam and Dean pick themselves up post-boss conflict)

Me: Which your favorite character? Sam or Dean?

Beta: (supposedly folding laundry) The car.

Me: (sips coffee approvingly) Good choice.

TV: (Dean puts two rounds into final boss)

Me: My favorite is Dean.

Beta: (heavy) Of course it is.

Me: What’d you say?

Beta: Nothing! Nothing. Nice weather we’re having.

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.

Can’t Even

(scene opens in dim basement, Carrot surrounded by laundry baskets)

Me: (sorting t-shirts, stops looks around) Are you still smelling B.O?

Husband: (looks up from computer) I put a load through earlier because it was smelling.

Me: Yeah, I just took that out of the dryer. (sniffs article of clothing, drops it) Jebuz!

Husband: (gets up to look at basket) Did some dirties get in with the clean?

Me: I don’t think so. (Husband and Carrot proceed to sort boy clothes based on smell) Some of them don’t smell at all. How did so much stank get through the wash?

Husband: (turns to stairway, lets out a battlefield yell) BETA!

(Beta hurries downstairs into scene)

Husband: Explain to me your washing process.

Beta: (shrugs) Take the clothes, put them in the machine, close the door, push the button.

(moment of silence)

Me: And when do you put in the laundry pod?

Beta: (tries to affect confusion, fails) What laundry pod?

Husband: Holy god you’ve been washing your clothes without detergent all this time? (points at stank basket) Take these back to the laundry room, I will show you what laundry detergent looks like.

I can’t make it any easier

(scene opens in stairwell, Carrot wresting Delta into clothes)

Me: (yelling) Beta, are you calling for me?

Beta: (off screen) Where are my uniform pants?

Me: (calls up) One doesn’t fit, one it in the garbage for holes, and the third pair is still being treated to get all the ink stains off of it. Wear jeans.

Beta: I don’t have any!

Me: (stops, Delta runs away) What do you mean you don’t have any?! (stomps up stairs)

(scene cuts to walk up attic, Beta in shirt and underwear, in front of two dresser sets, one with each drawer labeled for contents)

Beta: (sullen) I don’t have any.

Me: (opens drawer labeled pants, camera close up of a chaotic mess of everything but pants. Opens drawer labeled shirts, camera close up on chaotic mess with a flash of denim. Pulls out a pair of jeans)

Beta: (sullenly takes jeans, wrestles them on)

Me: (enunciates) I labeled them. So you could be organized. So you could find. your. pants. We both know what you’re doing after to school today. (picks up shirt, sees high school logo, opens unlabeled drawer from second set, find it empty save for one sock. Close eyes, sigh, drop shirt, leaves room)

Mommy’s Little Helper

(scene opens in cluttered basement, laundry baskets overflowing with clean laundry)

Me: (folding) Boys, is the basket of laundry in front of the washer clean or dirty?

(pause for processing delay, Alpha muttering complex tactical plans into headphone)

Beta: Clean.

Me: Then can you move it off the dirty laundry pile?

Beta: (into headphone) Hang on, Online Friend, Mom’s talking to me. (pause for digital slaughter) Sure mom, just let me finish this.

Me: (casting about to appropriate basket) That’s fine. I… (stops to remember) Oh, right. Some of the clothes in that basket…

Beta: (into headphone) You need to get up to the platform.

Me: (interrupted, resets) There’s clothes in the basket that aren’t….

Alpha: (into headphone) I’m about five steps ahead of you, we’re running out of time.

Me: (starts to sweat) Delta’s clothes are in the basket…

Beta: (into head phones) Hold here a sec. (mashes some buttons) What did you want mom?

Me: (dazed blank stare, struggling to remember temporal placement)

Delta: (calls from the stairs) You need to se’arate Delta clo’s from you clo’s in ‘a bas’et, Beta.

Beta: Ok. Will do.

Me: (poleaxed) Thank you, Delta. I’m glad someone’s got my back.

Accepting Responsibility

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)

Me: (pouring coffee)

Alpha: Mom. I added another chore to my chart.

Me: (doesn’t turn around) Oh yeah?

Alpha: Yeah. From now on, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I’m reaping the souls of the damned.

Me: (turns around and sees amended chore chart) And what are you going to do with those damned souls?

Alpha: (caught off guard) Uh…roll them into a ball and carry them around with me?

Me: (sips coffee) As long as you put them away properly, I approve.

(time passes, Beta enters from stage right)

Beta: Hey, how come Alpha gets to harvest the souls of the damned and not me?

Me: You didn’t ask?

Alpha: You can have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Beta: Cool! (grabs marker)

Man vs Nature

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)

Me: (enters, passes by open porch door where Beta lurks, stops) What?
Beta: (red faced teary eyed, chokes up) I…I just…the grass…

(over grown yard half mowed behind him comes into view)

Me: (interrupts) Look, this is nothing to cry about. This is mowing the lawn. If you just go and cut and stop coming here to cry about how hard it is every five minutes, you’d be done by now.
Beta: (redder face, tears building)
Me: This is a challenge. Rise up and defeat it. Pretend the grass is an army you’re slaughtering. Say to them “Behold, grassy army, I will destroy your legions and defile your grassy corpses and revel in my victory.”
Beta: (stares)
Me: I want it on record that ten year old me would have had this done in twenty minutes. You can verify that with my brother. Begone.
Beta: (slinks away)

You don’t want my solution

(scene opens in dim basement, outraged howling)

Me: (stepping over laundry baskets) What’s going on?
Beta: (dramatic) I don’t want to watch this!
Me: (looks to Gamma’s smug grin to Mother Goose Rhymes singing from TV) You’re not supposed to be watching, you’re supposed to be folding laundry.
Beta: (drama intensifies) That’s it, I’m going upstairs to wait. (stands up)
Me: Sit back down. Here, I’ll make it easier for you. (takes arm chair, turns back to tv, puts unfolded laundry in front of it) Here. Sit. No longer watching tv shows you can’t stand, you can focus on your single basket of laundry that has taken the last half hour for you not to fold. If you were truly motivated, you’d have it done before the second verse of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Beta: (throws self into chair, goes limp, sobs pathetically, picks up t-shirt with two limp fingers, holds to face to mask suffering)

Mom Joke

(scene opens in kitchen, packed with family doing a clean)

Alpha: (bags garbage)
Beta: (bags recycling)
Me: (wiping chairs)
Husband: (supervising)
Beta: Should I take this recycling out?
Me: Yes. Take it around town. Take it to a good movie. Maybe a nice dinner.
Beta: Wut?
Husband: I love you so much right now.