The Old Tongue

(scene opens in mini van, sound of something rolling around)

Gamma: (in hypersensitive) What is that noise?!

Me: (focusing on road) Check the ash tray.

Gamma: (pause) Ash tray?

Me: (opens recessed drawer, reveals car adapter)

Gamma: Oh, its a stylus for the touch screen! (picks it up and touches end to screen)

Me: No, it’s a car charger. You plug it into the cigarette lighter and it charges your electronics.

Gamma: (longer pause) Cigarette lighter?

Me: Damnit. Okay – back when everyone and their mother used to smoke, there was this thing in the car that you would push in to turn on and it would heat up and then you could touch it to the end of your cigarette to light it. Now they use them as car outlets because it’s just an electrical contact point inside.

Gamma: (side eye) Oh. Okay. That was weird.

Me: The more I have to explain it to you, the weirder my childhood gets.

Poker Face

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Beta: (describing the gear needed for Welding class)

Me: (looks up from computer at Husband) So…now we’re buying him boots?

Husband: Something like Timberlands. Heavy duty work boots.

Me: (turns to Beta) Are you going to wear them all day?

Beta: No, they’ll stay in my locker.

Me: Finally using your locker? Glad someone knows what a locker is.

Beta: I have a locker in my welding classroom. I don’t use my real locker.

Husband: Only use your step-locker?

Me: (absentmindedly) What are you doing, step-locker?

Husband: (whips around to stare at Carrot)

Beta: (points at Carrot, yelling) NO!

Husband: (whips around to stare at Beta)

Me: Ha-ha. Outted you.

Beta: (flames bright red)

Husband: You’d better go to bed.

(Beta flees, stage left)

Husband: (to Carrot now laughing helplessly) I think this makes you the bad parent.

Carrot: (wipes tears) I’m okay with that.

Mysteries of the Universe

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (to husband) I found one of Gamma’s stories in my Google Docs. I don’t know if it got emailed to me or what.

Husband: Yeah?

Me: It was amazingly complicated. There’s a deep and wide ranging mind in that child. Alarmingly and creatively intelligent.

Husband: I know. I’ve read some of her stuff.

Me: (looks out window, Gamma running around in circles talking loudly to herself and swinging a scooter by the handle) Y’know how some of our other friends have really smart and clever and deep children?

Husband: (warily) Yeah?

Me: How come they’re all self-possessed well spoken polite little mini-adults and ours is swathed in chaos?

Husband: Swaddled.

Me: Swathed. Swaddled. Difference?

Husband: Swaddled is comforting.

Me: (thinks) Fair.

Ouch

(scene opens in mini van, pulling away from kindergarten pick up line)

Delta: Is today Mother’s Day?

Me: No, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

Delta: Mother’s Day is only one day?

Me: Yes. Only one day.

Delta. Only one day a year?

Me: Yes. Mother’s Day is only one day a year.

Delta: So only one day a year you have a life?

Me: (quiet, merges into traffic) Yes. Thanks for pointing that out, Delta.

Delta. (happily) You’re welcome, mommy!

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.

Am Disappoint

(scene opens up in kitchen)

Me: (tiredly making lunch and drinking cold coffee)

Delta: Mommy, can I ask you some questions? (sits on stool)

Me: Sure honey, what’s wrong?

Delta: How many more days until life gets easy?

Me: (extreme feelz) I wish I could tell you.

In Jokes Make Everything Better

(cut scene-flashback, opens in foyer of Universal Studios hotel, two people having a conversation)

Me: (quietly) Beta, you’ve been talking about food all day.
Beta: I’m hungry all day.
Me: (epiphany moment) Beta, do you eat your feelings?
Beta: (serious face) Yeah. (dork face) Its because they’re so delicious.
Me: (letting it go, talks for other times) Well, its because you put cheese on them.

(flash forward, six people in parked van, most red eyed from crying)

Everyone: (collectively mired in personal misery and sorrow)
Husband: (reaches out, touches wife’s arm gently to get attention, mimes eating)
Me: (nods, collects self, sits up straighter, calls over shoulder) Beta? Do you want to go put cheese on our feelings?
Beta: That’d be great.
Me: (waves to husband to work the car machine)
Gamma: Why are we putting cheese on our feelings?
Husband: I think we’re getting something to eat.

To Try Men’s Souls

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: So how was school? Any homework? (sips coffee)
Beta: Yeah, English. I have to find a word that describes me that rhymes with the sound of my name.
Me: (pause, confused) You have to find a descriptive word that rhymes with your name? Or one that starts with the same letter?
Beta: (instantly exasperated) Rhymes with my name!
Me: (pretty sure he’s wrong) There aren’t going to be any descriptive words that sound like your name, honey.
Beta: (falls apart, verge of tears) It has to rhyme with the “L” sound.
Me: (staying calm, grits out) Rhyme is the wrong word. Rhyme is “bat, cat, rat, prat”. Starting with the same letter is completely different. (Points to computer) Get on Thesaurus.com and look up a word.
Beta: (hysterical) But I don’t even know what word I’m looking for yet.
Me: (slams hands on table) Would you just trust my judgement for once and get on the computer!
Beta: (does so, stares at blanks screen for five minutes, quivering with tears)
Me: (sighs deeply, leans over to type)

(close up on screen shows word “argumentative”)

Me: There. (conversationally reads) Belligerent. Combative. Contrary. Litigious. Litigious is a good word. That starts with the letter “L”.
Beta: (bright and cheery) Yeah! It is a good word.
Me: (stares into the blackness that is her coffee)

Why does this even need to be said?

A mile walk to pick up the car from the shop included lighthearted conversational topics such as:

“Beta, accept the fact that you are wrong. Do not be that guy that has to justify why you had to be mean to someone. It is not her fault you have to be a jerk, it is your fault you wanted to be a jerk. No one wants to be friends with that.”

And

“Gamma, breaks are for the weak. We do not stop for a rest at the end of every block, we walk until we get to our destination and then we rest. The longer we take to get there, the longer we will be walking.”

Mindblown

Beta was arguing with me that the Tibetan script on the book he’s reading wasn’t really a language because the word/letters weren’t matching up numerically to the English words above it. Just blew his mind writing words in Hindi to show him how languages don’t match. I’m gonna hazard a guess he’s reassessing my person by the way he’s staring at me across the table and the words I just wrote. Yes, children, I was a fully formed interesting person before I became your professional sandwich maker and chauffeur.