Acceptable Limits

(scene opens in mini van)

Me: (buckling seatbelt) Okay. I am totally willing to support you in your dream dress vision. I want you to understand that there are a couple of times I will be enacting the Parental Veto.

Gamma: Why?

Me: If it’s too expensive, I don’t care how perfect it is, we just can’t. Or if it’s too risqué.

Gamma: What does ‘risqué’ mean?

Me: It’s the sexy level. And you’re only almost twelve…

Gamma: My sexy level should be zero.

Me: (approvingly) Exactly.

Gamma: (fist bumps Carrot) Then let’s do this!

She’s got the look

(rapid fire montage of Gamma coming down stairs in ratty and/or dirty pants)

Me: Go upstairs and put on some nicer pants.

Gamma: (dramatically) These are the nicest ones I have!

(repeat for at least fifteen different scenes, various times of day and seasons)

(scene opens in sawdusty garage, half painted bench resting on paper)

Me: (in clothes obviously meant for sloppy work, touching up hard to reach spots)

Gamma: (just off screen) Oops. I got paint on my pants.

(Carrot looks over, camera turns)

Gamma: (standing in pristine white shirt, brand new unblemished jeans now bearing a dark maroon lean spot on the thigh)

Me: (irrationally calm) Gamma? I’ve never seen those pants before. Are they new?

Gamma: (brightly) Amazing what you can find in the bottom of a very deep and dark drawer.

(Carrot begins to tremble, screen fades to black)

That’s one for the books.

(scene opens in frantic parlor, three out of four spawnlings in scout uniforms.)

Me: Everyone got their shoes on? Uniforms on? Find your coats.

Husband: Gamma. Fix your belt.

(camera cuts to Gamma in Webelo uniform, scout belt all twisted)

Gamma: (struggles with scout belt)

Husband: Did you miss a belt loop?

Me: (aggravated) Here, let me help. This part is…. (hesitates) Gamma? You somehow managed to tuck your pants into your pants.

(everyone pauses, exchanges looks)

Husband: (sighs) I’m getting in the car. Head out when you two are ready.

Literary References

(scene opens in messy kitchen, Carrot hastily making school lunches)

Gamma: Mom? Can I wear this jacket? (holds up ratty Starfleet letterman)

Me: (pained) I’d rather you not, the sleeves are peeling and I’ve not replaced them with real leather yet.

Gamma: Please?! Look! It almost fits me! (puts it on)

Me: (defeated) Sure, just be very careful with it? I don’t want it to get beyond repair. (goes back to making sandwiches)

Gamma: Mom? What’s Battlestar Galactica?

Me: (taken aback) What? Uh…its another space show. About humanity’s survival against the Cylons. Sentient robots – maybe androids – that rose up and rebelled against their masters.

Gamma: (with deep and excessive sarcasm) Oh. Robots rising up against their masters. Where have I heard that before?

Me: All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Gamma: Wut?

Me: Nothing. It’s a trope. Tropes are reoccurring themes in entertainment and literature. They’re meant to convey certain concepts. Everything is referencing something else. If you understand all the references, you get a much deeper story.

Gamma: (dismissive) You’d think they’d come up with something new by now.

Me: Yeah, well, everything old is eventually made new. Get your boots on, it’s go time.

SC937-0176CEC

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Husband: Do you like it?

Me: I love it it.

Husband: Does it fit okay?

Me: Perfect. The only gripe I have is that they didn’t put the Admiral pins on the sleeve.

Husband: (pause) You’re bothered by the fact that your cheap silkscreened knock off sweatshirt from China isn’t cannon accurate to the franchise it was taken from.

Me: I’m still gonna wear it.

Husband: (tolerant sigh) Merry belated Christmas, dear.

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.

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.

Best. Birthday. Ever.

(scene opens, Carrot walking out of restaurant with her mom)

Host: Are you a Marine?

Me: (touches hair self-consciously) Uh…no?

Host: Oh, your sweatshirt says “Enterprise” on it. That’s a Navel vessel.

Me: (looks down at her brand new StarFleet hoodie) Oh! No – this is a Star Trek thing. Its a future Enterprise, not the current Enterprise.

Host: Oh, okay. (laughs and salutes) Thank you for your service, Captain.

Me: (salutes back) Carry on.

A Whole New World

(scene opens in busy mall. Carrot walking with purpose, Alpha and Beta trotting along behind)

Me: (stops in front of Hot Topic) Okay, here we are. Go in there, look for your cool edgy hoodies. I’ll be back in five minutes.

Alpha/Beta: Got it!

(cut-scene)

Me: (wanders up, finds both boys leaning on the railing) Did you find what you were looking for?

Alpha: (dismissive) No, its where all the emo teens shop. Nothing there for me.

Me: (raises eyebrows, said cooly) Then it was totally your shop. (peeks in) I’d wear half that stuff if it was in my size. No wonder you didn’t like it. (thinks) Okay, there’s one other place we can try.

(montage of wandering through difficult crowds, uneven floor plans)

Me: (stops in front of Spencer’s Gifts) If you don’t find anything befitting your tough teen image, we’re back to the internet. (sails calmly past a shirt display full of profanity and pot leaves)

(Alpha and Beta edge carefully in, skittishly pick through the store)

Me: (discovers she lost her shadows, back tracks, finds them at the lava lamp display) I always wanted one of those.

Beta: (hopeful) Me too. Think we can get one?

Alpha: Uh…mom? I have questions.

Me: (looks up, follows Alpha’s gaze behind her to the Bachelorette section. Contemplates a row of turgid and rainbow colored lollypops for a moment.) Well. I have answers.

Alpha/Beta: (laughs nervously)

Me: What, embarrassed of a few penises?

Alpha/Beta: (more nervous laughter)

Alpha: (turns to brother) We will never speak of this again.

(both boys turn on their heels and march out of the store. Carrot follows humming a jaunty tune)

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)

Learning Lab

(scene opens in dim early morning kitchen)

Me: Alpha, get your jacket, its cold out.
Alpha: It can’t be, it was 50 yesterday.
Me: Its also 5:15 am in the morning, hence colder than high noon. Also, welcome to winter in the Midwest. One day 50, the next day -50. Get your jacket.
Alpha: No, I’m good.
Me: 11 degrees. Jacket and gloves.
Alpha: No, I got pockets.
Me: I get that you think you’ll be fine, because you’re going straight from car to school, but having the jacket in case we break down is also a good idea.
Alpha: We’re not that far away, I can walk to school from where ever we break down.
Me: (paralyzed with lack of caring) Fine. Get in the car. Dad’s car. He’s parked behind me.
Alpha: Oh. The shitty cold car?
Me: Without seat warmers? Yeah.
Alpha: (leaves, standing ground on not getting jacket or gloves)

(cut scene to inside mini-van, windows edged with heavy frost)

Alpha: Is the heat even on?
Me: Yeah, its an old car, you have to give it a little time to warm up.

(time passes)

Alpha: Is the blower even working?
Me: Ayup. Takes a lot of work to warm up from 11 degrees.

(more time)

Alpha: Why is it so cold?
Me: Gosh. If only there was an article of clothing you could have brought with you that would have kept you warm. Maybe with sleeves and a hood? What’s that thing called? A ja-quet?
Alpha: (non-committal teen-age harumph)
Me: (smug)

Fashion Commentary

(scene opens in parlor)

Me: (scrutinizing daughter) Did you get those pants from grandma for Christmas?
Gamma: (jumping around) I don’t know.
Me: I like the color, but they look awfully snug.
Gamma: That’s just the fashion, momma.
Me: (frowns) I’m not a big fan of jeggings. Do you like them?
Gamma: (bouncing on a mini trampoline) Yes! They’re pretty!

(follows several scenes of daughter running through room, mother staring perplexed)

Me: (resigned) Gamma, come here please. I need to look at those pants.
Gamma: (obediently walks over, turns round so mom can check tag)

(camera close up on size 4T)

Me: Oh dear gods, you’re wearing your little brother’s pants.
Gamma: So?
Me: You’re eight. He’s three. Go take them off and change into something else!
Gamma: I was wondering why they were a little tight.