The mighty hunter returns.

(scene opens in bright summer parlor, Jethro Tull loud on the speakers)

Me: (at embroidery frame singing heartily) Ring out those solstice bells! Ring out….

Alpha: (off screen and with terror) MOM!

(Carrot leaps up and heads to basement, cut scene to top of the stairs)

(Alpha looks up helplessly, Epsilon noses something suspicious on the floor, manages a doggy smug)

Me: (exasperated) Alpha, its just poop. If you guys walked him more this wouldn’t…

Alpha: (tremulously) Mom. It’s not poop.

(Carrot descends stairs for better look)

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Please, oh god, don’t be a rat.

Carrot: Looks a little big to be a mouse, and there’s no tail. (gets closer, sighs gently) Oh honey, its a baby rabbit. A very baby rabbit.

Epsilon: (wags tail and pants smugly)

Alpha: (tearfully) Is it dead?

(Carrot picks up small animal, wet and slick and black. It kicks slightly)

Alpha: (jumps) It’s not dead!

Carrot: Well, this makes things a little more complicated.

Editor’s Note: Said baby appears to have been claimed. Given the cruelty of Mother Nature, we are continuing to believe that said baby was claimed by the mama.

Sins of the Father

(scene opens in mini-van)

Me: Its your sister’s birthday today.

Beta: Its also Wolfenoot.

Me: It is. So, I heard of a lovely Wolfenoot tradition from a friend of mine, H the Bard*. You hide gifts around the house and play “Hungry Like the Wolf” on repeat until everyone finds a gift.

Beta: Sounds fun. We should do that.

Me: Except that your father hates Duran Duran.

Beta: Huh. I should take forever to find a gift then. Just put it under my chair and sit there going “I wonder where it could be?” while he stands in front of me going “It’s right there!”.

Me: (starts laughing) You’re a terrible child.

Beta: (pleased) I wonder where I get it from.

(*Names blurred out to protect the guilty, but not very well.)

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.

….and call him George

Beta: Hey mom? What’s Epsilon playing with outside?

Me: (distracted) I don’t know.

(Beta leaves, comes back)

Me: Oh. Epsilon 3, Bun-buns 0

Beta: Except for that one, he’s not hurting them. And that one I think was an accident. He’s just chilling with them. Like he doesn’t know what to do with it when he catches it.

Me: Well, he’s a herd dog. Maybe he’s trying to herd the bun-buns.

Beta: Maybe we should get him a rabbit stuffed animal?

Me: He likes to chew on things, I don’t want associating bun-buns with eviscerating stuffies.

Code Names

(scene opens in dim kitchen)

Alpha: Who keeps tangling up the leash? (struggles with chain)

Me: I don’t know. (takes mug out of microwave, looks at clock) I guess I’d better go get small boy out of bed. (pauses, shocked look, starts laughing)

Alpha: What are you laughing at?

Me: (points to Alpha) Tall Boy. (points straight above) Chonk Boy. (points to dinning room) Not Boy. (points above the stairs) Small Boy. (points to dog at the door) Fur Boy. (dissolves into hysterical laughter)

Alpha: (with concern) Are you okay, mom?

Me: (wipes tears) No. No I’m not.

Exhibit A

(scene opens in sunny dinning room)

Me: (tiredly gathering up pandemic homeschool supplies)

Beta: (laying on floor in sunbeam with doggo) Mom? Which do you love more, the kids or the dog.

Me: (sighs) Well, the dog doesn’t argue with me about every. single. thing. I. say. so maybe I love the dog best.

Beta: Except when he’s pulling on the leash or not sitting when you tell him or chewing on things he’s not supposed to…

Me: Hey Beta? You’re kinda proving my point.

Beta: …..damnit.

I guess he’s family now.

(flashback)

Me: So, do we call this one Epsilon?

Husband: (reprovingly) No. I want there to be some difference made between the kids and the dog.

Me: I’ve already called him Delta three times today.

Husband: (firmly) There needs to be a difference between the kids and the dog.

(cut-scene to evening dinning room)

Me: (settles self with hot drink, prepares to write, turns on Spotify)

Dog: (picks head up, side eyes) Woof.

Me: (looks over) What.

Dog: (deeper) Woof!

Me: Oh, I’m sorry, is my music bothering you? (shuts it off)

Dog: (more side eye, lays back down)

Me: Yeah, you’re Epsilon. I don’t know what Husband was thinking.

Spirit of the Wolf

(scene opens in girl’s tossed bedroom)

Me: (shakes blanketed form) Gamma, time to get up for school. (notices sheet hammock from top bunk) What’s this?
Gamma: (rolls over, still sleepy) All my dogs.

(shot inside shows Wolfenoot gift, smaller stuffed dogs, including a mini-Fluffy from Harry Potter)

Me: That’s cute. They’re all nice and warm in there.
Gamma: (gets up, points at Wolfenoot wolf) All my dogs were orphans until he took them in and now they’re a dog family.
Me: (overwhelmed, kisses Gamma’s forehead)