(scene opens in rough finished laundry room)
Me: (sorting dirty laundry hip deep)
Beta: (shouting from kitchen above) Mom! We’ve got a problem!
Me: (already through) Then solve it, Beta! I’m working!
Beta: That’s the problem. I don’t know how to solve it!
Me: (mutters curses, extracts from dirty laundry, climbs stairs to kitchen)
Beta: (waiting by door, holding moldy strawberry)
Me: (stares, incredulous)
Beta: What do I do with it?
Me: (heartbeat) Eat it.
Beta: No way! (throws it in the garbage can)
Me: Really. You called me upstairs for that. You couldn’t figure it out.
Beta: (sheepish smile)
(scene opens in moderately clean kitchen)
Beta: (snaps off dish gloves) Done!
Me: (surveys work) Thank you, Beta,for all your hard work and for abiding by the contract.
Beta: What do I get out of it?
Me: You continue to get fed.
Beta: I can feed myself.
Me: With my food.
Beta: Fair enough.
(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, sandwich fixings crowding the counter)
Me: Okay, Alpha, this is very important.
Alpha: (eyes fastened on the industrial sized jar of pickles) Piiiiicccckkkklllles
Me: Alpha. Do not drink the pickle juice. I can take that juice and put it in that ice cream maker (points to top of the cabinet) and we can have pickle juice slushies.
Alpha: (shocked) But….wait…pick…. I don’t think I want…
Me: Look into your heart, you know it to be true.
Alpha: Slushies. (in wonder) Of pickle juice.
Me: We can make this happen. You and me.
Alpha: (dazed look)
(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)
Delta: (pointing to top of cabinet at a bucket of Easter candy)
Me: No, that’s not yours. That’s Alpha’s.
Delta: (bird shriek)
Me: Too much candy will make you sick. No. Not yours.
Delta: (shriek intensifies)
Me: You’re lucky Alpha doesn’t like candy very much. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(time passes,scene changes to 23 month old in a high chair)
Me: Was it yummy?
Delta: (picks a masticated pile of what once might have been yellow peeps)
Me: Ready for nap time?
Delta: (looks up, face clearly saying “I have learned the true meaning of regret. Put me to bed.”)
(scene opens a dining room table)
Beta: I couldn’t find Crackle or Snap in this word find. I did find Pop.
Me: (idly looks over to see the word puzzle on the cereal box)
Beta: I also found the word poo!
Me: Look closer. It’s ‘spoon’ not ‘poo’.
Beta: No! Look! Right there….oh….yeah, the word spoon.
Me: They wouldn’t have put ‘poo’ on a cereal box. Not on purpose.
Beta: They might have.
Me: Not if they wanted parents to keep buying Cocoa Krispies.
(scene opens in messy kitchen, body language suggesting recent maternal altercation and cooling down)
Boys: (slink in stage left)
Me: (deep breath) Thank you for getting your pjs on. Now we’re going to try this again. Beta? Go get your pjs on, please.
Beta: (trying not to smile through a pout steps around corner)
Alpha: Walk walk, stairs stairs stairs, change change, stairs stairs stairs, walk, walk.
Beta: (comes out from around the corner)
Me: (realizes what just happened) That was very well done. (gets back into scene) Thank you, Beta. Now, did you want seconds on the pork chop or dessert?
Beta: Seconds, then desert.
Me: Head to the table.
Me: Stage directions? Really?
Alpha: (proud) I thought it would be funny.
(scene opens in cluttered dining room)
Me: Alpha, Merit Badge University is tomorrow, you have to finish reading the source material.
Alpha: But its Friday!
Me: Remember when I wanted you to do these all last week and you argued with me? Sit.
Alpha: (plaintively) Can I at least have a snack?
Me: (fetches cup of orange jello and spoon, puts it on the table)
Alpha: (begins to read)
Me: (wanders over to check progress, find the orange jello neatly turned out onto the table, like a jiggly ziggurat) Zombie Jebuz, Alpha, you poured jello out onto my table?! Now it’s going to get all sticky and gross! Put it back….
Alpha: (leans forward and inhales the entire construct in one quick slurp)
Me: (Stunned silence, followed by helpless laughter) That had to be the most disgusting and the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Don’t do that again.
Alpha: (strains in mute eye watering humor, trying not to suffocate or spit jello all over the room)
(scene opens in messy kitchen)
Beta: Hey! What happened to all the cookies!?
Me: You mean the birthday cookies you made for me yesterday?
Beta: Yeah! There are only three left!
Me: You mean there are only three of MY birthday cookies?
Beta: (failing to pick up on warning tone of voice) You weren’t supposed to eat them all, you were supposed to share and give us more than one of them!
Me: (simmering) Go do your homework.
Memories from Camp:
Me: Beta! Camp! Adventure! Fun! What do we do first?!
Beta: Trading post?
Me: uh….after adventure! Fun! New experiences! What’s first!?
Beta: Trading post?
Me: Why the hell do you want to go to the trading post?
Beta: They have choco-tacos. I’ve never had one.
Me: ….clearly I have been remiss in my parenting duties. To the trading post.
(scene opens with Carrot behind the wheel, post-graduation slurpees in everyone’s hand)
Husband: Try this one. Airhead Extreme Cherry.
Me: (Sips. Salivary glands implode.) Harsh.
Husband: I think the Sour Patch slurpee was better.
Me: That had a stronger punch, smoother finish. I like that we can use wine terms to rate slurpee flavors.
Husband: This is not a slurpee for drinking…
Me: This is a slurpee for laying down and avoiding.
Beta: (outraged) Mom! How come you put yogurt in Alpha’s lunch!?
Me: (fog of exhaustion) Uh…Alpha made his own lunch today.
Beta: How come he gets yogurt and I don’t?
Me: (failing Engrish) There’s yogurt in the ‘fridge, you can have one. Strawberry.
Beta: (sullen) I don’t want one, I want to know why you never put yogurt in my lunch but Alpha has one.
Me: (focus becomes deadly sharp) You don’t want yogurt. But you’re mad Alpha has yogurt. In a lunch he made himself.
Beta: (pause) Yeah.
me: (blacks out and goes on autopilot) Beta, go have breakfast.
Beta: (huffs and puffs and flounces off to mutter 20 minutes on the unfairness of it all that Alpha helped himself to something Beta doesn’t like)
Alpha: (whining) When can we turn on the tv!?!
Me: It’s pizza and movie night tonight. We can turn on the tv then.
Alpha: (hopeful) It’s pizza night? Can I have my usual?
Me: We’re getting a different type tonight. Lou Malnati’s
Beta: (checking freezer) This says…Gino’s? (somehow mis-pronouncing it three different times)
Me: Lou Malnati’s. (sing-song) It’s on the other side of the river.
Alpha: Illuminati pizza?
Me: Yes, Illuminati pizza. It’s the best kind of pizza.