Either/Or

(scene opens outside a strip mall DMV)

Me: (waiting out on the side walk)

Alpha: (walks up sheepishly)

Me: Well?

Alpha: I failed. I have to retake it.

Me: (takes a moment to consider body language) You’re lying to me.

Alpha: (smile brightens) Yes. I got it. I passed.

Me: (reaches into purse, pulls out bag of sour gummi Troll worms) Here. Congrats.

Alpha: (looks at bag) If I had failed, would you not have given it to me?

Me: You’d still get it. Then it’d be consolation candy. Like Break Up Ice Cream. Did you want to drive home?

Alpha: God no. I have candy to eat.

Boogey Down

(scene opens in mini-van)

Alpha: What day is it?

Me: September 21st.

Alpha: Happy Wind, Earth, Fire day.

Me: Wut? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alpha: The song! Here, I’ll play it. (picks up phone, connects it to van’s stereo)

(Carrot does a quick glance at the screen and sees Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”)

Me: OH! I remember this song. Yeah, okay. I get it now.

Alpha: (surprised) You know this song?

Me: Yeah. It was popular recently. It was on the Troll’s soundtrack.

Alpha: But that was like nine years ago.

Me: Honey, hate to break it to you, but its way older than that. I remember being a little kid in the car with my dad and singing it. Use the technology and see what year it came out.

(Alpha fiddles with his phone)

Alpha: Woah. It came out in….1978?

Me: Yes. For reference, your Uncle J was born that year. I’m six years older than this song.

Alpha: Wow. That’s really old music.

Me: (says nothing)

Technology makes life easier!

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: Okay, Alpha! Ready to go get your driver’s license?

Alpha: (glumly) No.

Me: Excellent. (checks webpage) Says we need to bring one piece of documentation from sections A, B, C, and D. Got your birth certificate and social security card?

Alpha: (holds them up) Check.

Me: Proof of address?

Alpha: (holds up college letter, state ID, and driver’s permit) Check.

Me: Proof of Insurance?

Alpha: (holds up insurance paper) Check.

Me: We ride!

(cut scene to parking lot of sad struggling strip mall)

Door Guard: Does he have all his paperwork? Are you 18?

Alpha: (hands over folder) Yes.

Door Guard: (rifles paperwork) You have to stay out here, mom. Appointments only and he’s adult.

Me: Cool. (sides on a concrete riser)

(time passes, Alpha returns)

Alpha: They say I need a high school transcript to prove I took Driver’s Ed. I’m not in the system.

Me: (dumbfounded) Not in the system? (goes to Door Guard) He needs a high school transcript?

Door Guard: Yeah, bring a high school transcript and they send it to Springfield and once he’s in the system he can take the driver’s test.

Me: (hotly) That wasn’t on the list of required documentation.

Door Guard: (shrugs) It’s a state law.

Me: (with poison) And where does it say that on the web site for required documentation?

Door Guard: (shrugs again) You can come back later today.

Me: (calling up the fire within) Then what was the point of making an appointment?

(Door Guard shrugs a third time, doesn’t answer, turns away. Carrot pulls out her phone and begins frantically researching and typing while Alpha hovers nervously by)

Me: Oh! They can email me a transcript! Maybe the day is saved. (types some more and pauses)

Alpha: What?

Me: They can email me a transcript. For three dollars and it’ll arrive in five business days.

(Carrot closes eyes and breaths deeply)

Alpha: (nervously) I’m really sorry mom.

Me: (kindly) It’s not your fault, Alpha. We followed all the instructions given to us. They just didn’t give us all the instructions.

Carrot’s Inner Voice:

Summer begins!

(scene opens at school pick up line, smalls climbing into mini-van)

Me: (brightly) Hey guys! Last day of school! Are you ready for summer?

Gamma: (too through) I guess. My teacher gave me a bag of candy.

Me: I can tell by the chocolate on your face. What about you, Delta?

Delta: (perky) My teacher gave us all sunglasses!

Me: (pulls away from curb) Perfect for summer!

Delta: Mom, how many more days until second grade?

Me: (frowns) Uh…thirty days in June, thirty one in July, subtract one for today. Add ten for August and you have seventy days of Summer.

Delta: (incredulous) Seventy days!?

Me: Yup.

Delta: I can’t wait seventy days to ride the bus. Can’t I go back earlier?

Me: (sighs) Tragically, no.

Delta: (disgruntled) This is so unfair.

With Love

(scene open in mini-van, everyone dressed for arctic conditions)

Me: Okay, now when we get to the campsite I want you to behave yourself. This is a new troop, don’t overwhelm them.

Gamma: (bouncing with excitement) Okay, mama. When are we going to get there?

Me: We’re here. (turns into camp ground) This is where you’ll be camping for the weekend. It’s going to be super cold, remember to wear all your layers.

Gamma: (moar bouncing) Okay, mama. I can hardly wait to say good bye to you!

Me:

Life Advice, Not Beer Commercial

(scene opens in frosty min-van)

Gamma: Mom, what’s 6th grade like?

Me: Oh. Well, my 6th grade was part of the Jr. High building and so we’d swap classrooms with 7th and 8th graders for different classes. Like for science or math…

Gamma: (interrupting) No, I mean the social part. Like popular kids and stuff.

Me: I hate to break it to you, but I wasn’t a popular kid.

Gamma: That much was obvious.

Me: Ouch, that hurts. (thinks) Okay, well, what’s the point of being popular?

Gamma: To have a lot of friends.

Me: Fair. But sometimes people are friends with you only because you’re popular. By whatever metric they’re using to scale that. If you stop being popular, they’ll find someone else to be friends with.

Gamma: Oh.

Me: In 7th grade, I realized I would never be the prettiest, or the smartest, or the tallest, strongest, fastest, most talented at anything. There would always be someone who was any or all of those things better than me. So I decided then and there to be the most interesting. If I was the most interesting person in the room, people would want to hang out with me. So. Read a lot of books. Listen to a lot of music –

Gamma: (interrupts) Got that covered.

Me: Learn a wide variety of strange and random skills that serve no real purpose save that you want to learn how to do it. Constantly make people amazed at your unexpected know-how on something. Trust me, it is way more fun to be interesting than it is to be popular. Popularity is fleeting. Interesting is forever.

(mini van pulls into drop off)

Me: Okay kids! (starts to sing) Have the best day ever!

Gamma: Please don’t.

Band Nerds Unite

(scene opens in dark mini van)

Me: So what time do I have to pick you up?

Beta: The game should be over by 8. Did you know some kids just hang out after school until the game starts? That’s over three hours of hanging out! That’s gotta be so boring!

Me: Not really. Not if you have all your friends there too. My old high school had activity busses running until 6:30 every night, so I just hung out with my friends every day until last call.

Beta: I suppose. Hey remember T, our old neighbor? Who was a percussionist? They used to hang out in the band room every day.

Me: Legit.

Beta: They used to get into so much trouble.

Me: Also legit.

Beta: They used to have a microwave in there. Not since they put a shoe in it.

(car pulls up to curb)

Me: Yeah, Band Kids are terrible. (Beta gets out of the car) Theater kids are the worst. (Beta pauses, looks back over his shoulder) I was both.

Beta: That explain so much.

Me: Get out. I’ll see you in two hours.

Scattered Knowledge

(scene opens in dark car, Pandora Radio playing a commercial for Dexter)

Alpha: (derisively) Who names a serial killer Dexter. That’s a ridiculous name.

Me: (absently) Dexter is the opposite of Sinister. Sinister is the left, Dexter is the right, which is why if you can use both hands it’s called ambidextrous. Dexter is a serial killer who only hunts serial killers. He’s on the right side of sinister.

Alpha: (long silence) And where on the internet did you get that?

Me: I didn’t. I came up with it on my own. But I bet someone else on the internet came up with it too.

Alpha: (mockingly) Oh, look I’m making up word meanings.

Me: Do it! Look it up! Look up what dexter means.

(long silence)

Me: Did you find it?

Alpha: No. I decided to believe you.

Me: (shocked) Oh now you decide to start listening to me?

Alpha: Well, you’re the one making things up, seems easier just to let you go on.

Me: You know how you get all this random knowledge? Read. Read a lot. Read tons. Get yourself some accidental knowledge. Then you, too, will also see the deeper hidden meanings of things.

Alpha: Or I could just sit here and laugh over memes showing a pumpkin carved into a troll face. (cut scene to shitty meme on phone)

Me: (gives up) Despair. You make me. I am full.

Why Are People

(scene opens in mini van, a rare silence)

Gamma: (staring out the window) Mom, what was that building?

Me: (mental sigh) A strip club. Its a place where men pay money to watch women take off their clothes and drink alcohol.

Gamma: (shocked) Why are there places like that?

Me: Because men will pay money to watch women take off their clothes and drink alcohol.

Gamma: (moar shocked) Why do women work there?

Me: Uh… because money. Its the only job they can get for whatever reason.

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Don’t kink shame, Carrot!

Me: (out loud) And I suppose it’s possible that some enjoy it.

Gamma: (weary) I’m sorry I asked.

(awkward silence, fade to black)

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.

Well, you asked.

(scene opens in mini-van)

Beta: I think Dad jokes aren’t funny. I bet mom jokes are funny. Mom, tell us a joke.

Me: (wearily) I’m well rested.

Husband: (uproariously laughter behind the wheel)

Me: (takes cue) My children are well behaved.

Husband: (increased laughing) Oh my god! That’s hilarious! I’m laughing so hard I’m crying!

Me: I never have to yell at them to do homework.

Husband: (booming fake stage laughter) It’s too much! Stop! I’m going to have to pull over if you keep going!

Me: My house is clean.

Husband: (pulls over to side of the road, puts head down on steering wheel, hysterical fake laughter)

(cut scene to four kids and a dog staring flatly at the front seat)

Beta: I’m sorry I said anything.

Husband: (to Carrot) Dear, that was wonderful. You should do stand-up.

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!