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No Hope for Our Future

(scene opens in moderately clean kitchen)

Me: (enters, sees two boys wrestling at the counter) What are you doing?

(they part to reveal a Chef Boyardee can, mangled by can opener)

Me: (stares at them, stares at can)
Them: (stare back)
Me: (cautiously approaches the can, lays a finger on the pull tab) Do you not know what this is?
Beta: No.
Me: (stares out the window, deep breath, pops tab, pulls back lid)
Them: (stare)
Me: (infinite gentleness) Alpha, did you not open yours this way?
Alpha: …No. (leaves room)
Beta: I apologize for my being an imbecile.
Me: (sadly) I love you.

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Know a Thing

(scene opens in cluttered basement)

Me: (standing amid several baskets of clean laundry, folding) Alpha, you remember you’re cooking dinner tonight for you merit badge?
Alpha: (On stairs) Yeah. I wish dad was here. To make sure I’m not going to blow up the house.
Me: (frowning) I know how to work the grill, son.
Alpha: (surprised) Really? You know how to grill?
Me: Of course. Believe it or not, I’m a fully actualized adult with an interesting back story and a wide range of useful skills.
Alpha: Do you know how to kill a cow?
Me: In theory. I haven’t had a chance to play test that.

Path of Righteousness

(scene opens at front door)

Elderly Couple: We’re taking a religious survey!
Me: (amused and soft hearted) Sure.
EC: (proceeds to grill on personal religious practices)
Me: (laying down a heavy layer of Catholicism)
EC: If you were to die right now, would you go to heaven?
Me: Of course.
EC: (skeptical look) What do you base that on?
Me: (brilliant smile) Clean living.
EC: (skeptical look intensifies) Here’s a brochure to our church. Hope to see you there.
Me: Thank you so very much. Have a good weekend.

(cut scene to kitchen)

Husband: (in pajamas) I missed my opportunity, didn’t I?
Me: You always do. (hands over Baptist Church recruitment pamphlets)
Husband: Clean living? Really? (tears them up)
Me: Couldn’t quite bring myself to say “Not being a judgmental prick” to someone’s grandparents. I’m nice like that.

Why I get nothing done

(scene opens in school office)

Me: (holding snack pack and water bottle)
School Admin: (enters with morose Gamma) And she broke her promise.
Me: (hands over gear) You weren’t doing your work?
Gamma: (sadly) No. It was hard.
Me: (sigh) We do things not because they’re easy, but because they’re hard.

(school staff collectively stare)

Gamma: That makes no sense.
Me: How else are you going to learn if you only do what you already know? Get back to class, behave yourself. Yo quiero tú estudias espańol.
Gamma: Sí, mama.

(cut scene, mother walks into the house, sees school binder on the floor, picks it up, sighs, swears, heads back to school)

Rise to the Challenge

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Alpha: What are you reading?
Me: An article about how a movie theater is running all the marvel movies in order before Endgame.
Alpha: (unimpressed) Huh.
Me: Would you like to go?
Alpha: I already saw all of them.
Me: So? We could do it at home. We have all movies, we can spend all weekend watching them in order. A whole weekend! Think of all the popcorn we can eat!
Alpha: (grimace) I don’t really like popcorn.
Me: You break my heart. I’ll watch 59 hours of Marvel with Gamma. She still loves me. I’ll invite all my nerd friends and you can’t hang with us.
Alpha: Whatever.

Ich bin müde

(Scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: (looking up from laptop) What are you doing?
Alpha: My German homework.
Me: On your Chromebook?
Alpha: I’m using Google Translate.
Me: (headdesk) Ohmigod. You’ve been doing all your homework with Google Translate?! I think we’ve just figured out why you’re getting full points on homework and failing every test!
Alpha: (explosively defensive) I’m an idiot when it comes to my tests. I don’t know shit and I don’t know why!
Me: Because if you don’t try to memorize the vocab during homework, you won’t remember it for the tests! This is what studying is! (points to the page) “ein Ei essen”. What does that mean?
Alpha: (sullen) Don’t know.
Me: (exhausted) Ei is egg and essen is food.
Alpha: (sinks lower in his chair)
Me: Remember when you threw down at the beginning of the year about how what a waste of time doing DuoLingo was because it wasn’t exactly what you were covering in class? I now officially know more German than you. Now I get to order flash cards so I can quiz you on vocab for an hour every night.
Alpha: (headdesk)
Me: Yes, I’m very excited about it too.

Interpretations

(scene opens in cluttered basement)

Beta: (narrating Minecraft) And a door here and then move some blocks. I should put in some bookcases too.
Me: (ignoring him, ironing pattern pieces)
Beta: Mom! I’m building Gamma a panic room!
Me: (vaguely) That’s nice of you.
Beta: Where she’ll never find it.
Me: (pause) That kinda defeats the point of a panic room, maybe? In a panic and can’t find the panic room?
Beta: I’m going to hide in it the next time we play and scare her! See? Panic room!
Me: You might be a bad brother.
Beta: (evil laugh) I know.

As long as we’re laughing

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Me: (holding hair tie between gritted teeth) Gamma, stop moving or brushing your hair will be more painful.
Gamma: (ridiculous suffering)
Beta: (stomping down the stairs, snuffling loudly)
Me: Beta, go upstairs and brush your teeth.
Beta: (sighs in busted, turns around to go back up, snuffling loudly)
Me: (calls after him) And blow your nose!
Husband: (looking around for his gear) And do a little dance.
Me: And make a little love!
Husband: Hey Beta! Get down tonight!
Beta: (off screen) I’m not talking to you guys!
Gamma: You guys make no sense.

Not Worth the Risk

(scene opens at cluttered dinning room table, strewn with scribbled notes in a childish hand)

Me: (looking over outline) Okay, now explain to me again what this paper is about.
Beta: I had to take two colleges that had programs I want and compare and contrast them. I want to go to Engineering, so I picked Tuskegee University and University of Florida.
Me: (slight disappointment) No MIT? Don’t want to be a pirate?
Beta: (shrugs) These two looked interesting.
Me: Well, I’m okay with going to Tuskegee. It’s a historically black college, just so you know and aren’t surprised when you get there. But I’m never sending you to Florida.
Beta: Why not?! I like warm sandy beaches.
Me: Then I’ll send you to the Mediterranean. Florida has something called “Florida Man” and it is the embodiment of all that is crazy and unstable in the human psyche. Why it only manifests in Florida, no one knows. Maybe its in the water, maybe its swamp gas. There are so many other Engineering schools that I can – and will – send you.
Beta: Is Florida Man like Big Foot?
Me: Crazier. He’ll eat your face.

Can’t Handle the Technology

(scene opens in tossed dinning room)

Husband: (points into the kitchen) Did you see the Scout coolers came home? We have to do do patrol shopping for the weekend’s camp out.
Me: (considers beat up coolers) Alpha’s or Beta’s? They both need the credit.
Husband: Not sure. (turns to holler off screen) BETA!

(second later, stair pounding is heard, Beta arrives in the doorway between kitchen and dining room)

Husband: You’re doing the shopping for the camping trip?
Beta: (sarcastically) Uh, yeah.
Husband: (frowns, lets it go) Who do you have to go with?
Beta: (more sarcasm) Uh, my Patrol Buddy. But I don’t know when because I have no way to contact him.
Husband: What do you mean? You can call him.
Beta: (full on sassomancer, puts imaginary phone to his ear) Oh hey, Patrol Buddy, I’m calling you on my imaginary phone to plan the shopping. (pretends to drop invisible phone)

(three heart beats of silence)

Husband: Beta, back up two steps and tell me what’s hanging on the wall.
Beta: (does so, sulks) A phone.
Husband: I pay a monthly fee for that phone. It ensures everyone has access to a phone. Go get Patrol Buddy’s phone number and call him.
Beta: (sulks deeper) I don’t have the number. I didn’t get it because I didn’t have a cell phone to call him from.
Husband: Huh. I guess you’re shopping by yourself this week.

Unexpected Sadz

(scene opens up in bathroom, dressing Delta for the day)

Me: (pulling on sweater) Okay, so we’re going to go see Auntie K today.
Delta: No auntie.
Me: No school today, we need to go to meet up with Auntie K. We’re going to Busia’s house to pick up some things. (takes deep breath to fortify)
Delta: (sadly, carefully) Busia is died.
Me: (stunned) Yes, Delta. Busia died.
Delta: (very still, playing with fingers) Busia died today.
Me: (gently) No, honey, Busia died a few months ago. It will be okay. We’ll go out to lunch with Auntie K.
Delta: (nods decidedly) I like lunch.

Frickin’ Fabulous

(scene opens in Tricoci University, students working on clients and mannequins)

Me: (Flounces to counter, resplendent in galaxy colored hair, followed by compliments and murmurs of approval from students and instructors)
Old Lady: (turns to look who’s behind her at the counter)
Me: (smiles brilliantly)

(scene repeats several times, Old Lady looking back then away, trying to hide a smile, finishes up making her appointment)

Old Lady: (finally) I just wanted to tell you, you look like a unicorn.
Me: (delightedly sharing Old Lady’s glee) I know! It was the effect I was going for!
Old Lady: (surprised, recoils) Really!? (shakes her head in disapproval and totters off)
Me: (WTF look)
Fabulous Host: (muttering to himself) Like that would have happened on accident.
Me: Right? By the way, love the nails.
FH: Thanks! (waggles inch long glitter acrylics honed to a deadly point)