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(scene opens in mostly empty Post Office)

Lady behind the counter: Next!

Me: (walks up with large box and custom form, hands both over to Postal worker)

LBtC: (looks at form) You’re sending Cheesy Poofs to England? I love Cheesy Poofs. How do they not have any in England? (begins to type)

Me: Right? They have Starbucks and McDonald’s, what’s with no Cheesey Poofs?

LBtC: (points to monitor) Go ahead and accept the price on the screen and sign your name.

Me: (blinks in sticker shock, signs anyway) I’ll have you know, its cheaper to send Candy Corn to New Zealand.

LBtC: How do they not have Candy Corn in New Zealand?!

Me: That’s what we’d like to know!

All knowledge is worth having

(scene opens at shady and tree heavy play ground, Carrot & Beta on park bench looking at phone)

Husband: (approaching) What are you looking at?

Me: Doing some Boy Scout learnin’. Beta, what’s that? (points to tree)

Beta: (pleased) Black walnut.

Me: Is it edible?

Beta: (more pleased) Yes. You harvest them in September and can wack them through a hole in a piece of plywood with a hammer to rip the green fleshy part off.

Me: Did we find any?

Beta: (holds up four dirty whole walnuts) Over there. Under the oak tree.

Gamma: (runs over at top speed) Let me see! Let me see the nuts!

Beta: (hunches protectively over his find, scowls) No. Go away. These are my nuts!

Gamma: Let me look! I just want to feel your nuts!

Me: (with heroic nonchalance) Beta, let Gamma feel your nuts.

Beta: (turns with comically horrified look on his face, dumps the walnuts into Gamma’s lap, runs off stage left)

Gamma: (picks up the walnuts) Beta’s nuts are all rough and dirty.

Me: (maintaining composure) They are.

Gamma: (thinks for a moment) What are the other words for nuts?

Me: It depends on the type of nut, I guess. There are walnuts and peanuts and chestnuts and…

Gamma: (interrupts) No. (brow furrows, looking for the right words, said slowly and carefully) What are the other meanings of the word nut?

Me: Oh. (considers options, throws caution) Nut is the slang term for testicle.

Gamma: (makes same face as Beta, jumps up and says loudly) Beta! I have your nuts and I’m going to bury your nuts where you can’t find them and then you won’t have any nuts! (runs off stage right)

Husband: (sits in spot Gamma vacated) Proud of yourself?

Me: Immensely. (watches Beta outrage flail in the distance) You disapprove?

Husband: (shrugs) You’re the one going to be fielding phone calls from the school.

Ungrateful Colonials

(scene opens in dim dining room)

Me: So we have some options. We can leave in an hour to get a spot over the by river to watch the fireworks. Fireworks don’t start until nine. Or, we can go over to your cousins house and just do s’mores.

Alpha: (tired and sunburnt) Cousins.

Gamma: You can still see fireworks from Cousins’ House.

Alpha: Those are the illegal ones.

Husband: They’re nice, but not as nice as the city ones.

Beta: (less tired more sunburnt) Cousins’. Who needs fireworks when you have your family?

Me: (Pauses. Then to Husband) Did I just get pwned?

Husband: (shrugs)

Me: Okay, cousins it is. I just want everyone to remember when they’re older and complaining I never took them to see the big firework displays, the committee voted against me.

No Gratitude

(scene opens with mom coming from grocery shopping)

Me: (humming, puts away groceries, pulls out bag of hazelnut M&Ms, divides equally in four bowls, hands them out)

Alpha: (doesn’t notice bowl balanced on his belly, too busy raiding)

Beta: (takes it with extreme dramatic suffering, cheek stuffed with gauze)

Delta: M&Ms!? I LOVE M&Ms!

Gamma: (hands bowl back) Mom, I only like Skittles.

Me: (sighs) Eat your M&Ms, sweetie. They’re good for you.

Expectations

(scene opens in moderately clean kitchen)

Me: (washing dishes at sink)
Beta: (comes up with small desert plate, plain cheesecake with a single bite taken)
Me: Want some cherry on top?
Beta: (hesitantly) Uh…no. I don’t like it.
Me: What’s wrong with it?
Beta: It doesn’t taste like cheese.
Me: (laughing) Honey, its cheesecake not cheese.
Beta: (explosive) What manic decided it was a good idea to put sugar in cheese?!
Me: Its a sweet cheese! Its supposed to be soft and sweet and creamy and used in desserts!
Beta: (fumes in outrage)
Me: (waves a wet hand) Put it on the counter, I’ll eat it when I’m done.

(Beta stalks off screen)

Husband: (watching from other doorway) The best part of that was him thinking he was being served a wedge of hard cheese for desert and being okay with it.
Me: Now I know what to give him tomorrow.

Not Winning

(scene opens at cluttered dining room table)

Me: (cheerful) Something new for dinner tonight!
Beta: (preens)
Me: Mr. Picky Eater wanted to try something new for pasta night, so we’re having ALFREDO! (puts down bowls of noodles and sauce)
Beta: (shovels it in)
Alpha: (takes one bite gags, puts hands over mouth) Sorry.
Gamma: (watches brother, slowly puts down fork) I’m not hungry.
Delta: (taking cues from the herd) Not hungry, mama.
Me: …you’re serious? It’s just fancy mac’n’cheese!
Gamma: (slinks away from table) I’m going to get ready for Scouts.
Delta: I go too! (takes off)
Alpha: (still at table with hands over mouth) I’m sorry but…just…no.
Beta: (finishes his bowl, grabs Gamma’s, keeps eating)
Me: (stunned) I cannot believe this.
Beta: (mouth full) Right? It’s even better with chicken.

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.

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)

Science might happen

(scene opens in oddly clean kitchen)

Beta: What are we having for dinner?
Me: (cleaning down counter) Ribs.
Beta: (distressed) I don’t like ribs! I have all the ingredients for my quesadillas and I haven’t made them yet.
Me: (affronted) What do you mean you don’t like ribs? Its cow. Cow is steak. You like steak.
Beta: It has bones!
Me: Steak sometimes has bones in it! Think of it as steak on the cob! You can eat it with your hands!
Beta: (tilts head) Can you do that? Cook steak on the cob? Around the corn?
Me: (stops cold) I…don’t know. I suppose you could. Get some really thin steak, tenderize it, get a good rub, wrap it around the cob and then grill?
Beta: Like really thick bacon.

(both pause, re-considering life goals)

Me: Wow.
Beta: Yeah. Wow.

(music crescendos, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Distilled

(scene opens in busy Starbucks, camera follows tea carrying individual through crowd to fireplace seating area)

Me: (looks up from phone, sees Childhood Bestie) Hey.
CB: Nice seats. (settles in)
Me: Right? Very comfy. (picks up cooling coffee, takes a sip, flinches and grimaces)
CB: (WTF look)
Me: Christmas blend. (grimace intensified)
CB: And?
Me: (another cautious sip) Tastes like 2018.
CB: (nod of understanding)

New Year Spirits

(scene opens in rainy parking lot, loading groceries in the car)

Beta: (going as slow as possible, everything weighs a thousand pounds)
Me: (exasperated) Is there a problem, Beta?
Beta: You didn’t get me bubble gum. Or Coke.
Me: (incredulous) I got a crate of flavored hot cocoa. I got hot pretzels. Sparkling cider. Doritos. Pizza rolls. Lemonade, chocolate milk, and Goose Island root beer. A box sampler of Jelly Belly beans! Pie and whipped cream! You’re going to pout about Coke and bubble gum?
Beta: (sags a little and mumbles) But I like Coke and bubble gum.
Me: You are my saddest panda. That’s your spirit animal. Sad Panda. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the saddest trombones in the background, playing for the world’s saddest panda. (makes sad trombone noise)
Beta: (sags further, the embodiment of suffering) But bubble gum….
Me: We have so much New Year’s eve snack food, you won’t have time to chew bubble gum. Trust me. Get in the car, Sad Panda. Its cold out here.

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.