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.

In the pursuit of fairness

(scene opens in a cluttered kitchen, mother in argument)

Me: He does do chores, you just don’t see them!
Beta: But I do a load of dishes and Alpha is never here and I never see him doing a load of dishes.
Me: He does! I make him wash dishes! You’re downstairs watching t.v!
Beta: But I never see him, its not fair, I’m the only one who does…
Me: (yelling) For the love of god! He has to re-wash half the things you do because you do such a piss poor job of it! Tell you what, after you’re done doing a load, you can stand here and watch Alpha do a load. Instead of twenty minutes of you arguing with me and twenty minutes of you farting around barely using a sponge, you can stand here for another twenty minutes and watch your brother doing dishes so that way you can verify that in no way, no how, is there a chance that you are doing one hair more of work than Alpha and you are perfectly equal in effort and time.
Beta: (crying) But that means he gets forty minutes of more XBox time!
Me: (murderous sociopathic calm) Consider next time how important it is that you stick your nose into everyone else’s business.

Contractual Obligations

(scene opens in dim basement rec room)

Me: (hot) Over the weekend you swore that all the laundry would get folded while you watched tv. Look. Not a single damn basket folded. You even tried to hide this basket behind the couch. Fold it. Now.
Beta: (whining) But….but… (tears on cue)
Me: I swear to god. This tv doesn’t go on until all the laundry is folded.
Beta: (turns and slouches away)
Me: Where the hell are you going?!
Beta: (sobbing) You said the tv couldn’t go on until the laundry is done, so I’m going to my room to read a book since I can’t watch tv.
Me: Sweet Zombie Jebuz! That threat means you fold the goddamn laundry! Do it now!
Beta: (more sobbing, limply picking up towels and wadding them together)
Me: (flees scene in attempt to stave off murder)

Not Helping

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)

Alpha: (preparing to wash dishes, soap and sponge at the ready)
Me: (enters, notices mug in Alpha’s hands) What are you doing?
Alpha: Getting ready to wash dishes. Its my chore for the day.
Me: Did you just dump out that coffee mug?
Alpha: Yes.
Me: Was it hot?
Alpha: Yes.
Me: (gestures to a counter full of glassware) Every glass we own is dirty and you start with the coffee mug I just put down while in the bathroom?
Alpha: (defensively) It was dirty!
Me: It was seasoned! You never wash a coffee addict’s coffee mug! They might still be drinking it!

In Accordance

(scene opens in moderately clean kitchen)

Beta: (snaps off dish gloves) Done!
Me: (surveys work) Thank you, Beta,for all your hard work and for abiding by the contract.
Beta: What do I get out of it?
Me: You continue to get fed.
Beta: I can feed myself.
Me: With my food.
Beta: Fair enough.