Marital Expectations

(scene opens in dining room, Carrot wincing as she ices the sole of her foot. Husband enters from kitchen.)

Husband: (expansively) You picked the best weekend to go camping with the Girl Scouts tomorrow!

Me: (wearily) Oh yeah? Heat index out of control?

Husband: No! Its because I have to be up all night!

Me: (suspicious) Why?

Husband: Sandman drops today and I have to binge watch!

Me: (outraged) Not without me!

Husband: I’ll watch it again a dozen times over!

(camera swaps between Carrot’s Murder Face and Husband’s look of Chaotic Glee a half dozen times)

Me: (sighs, checks watch) All the kids are in bed by 8. We’re pulling an all nighter.

Husband: On the big T.V.?

Me: Of course.

Inter-office Memo

(scene opens at the top of the stairs, furniture pushed onto the landing)

Me: What is this?

Gamma: (briskly exiting her room) I’m just doing a bit of cleaning.

Me: (somewhere between shock and confusion)

Gamma: (hands over a clipboard) I’ve come to some decisions about what I want my room to look like.

(camera cuts to clipboard)

Me: Uh, okay.

Gamma: You probably should talk it over with dad.

Me: Sure. I’ll do that. (slowly backs away, exits scene)

A little called out there.

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room, merit badge work in progress)

Carrot: (typing around Delta in her lap) Okay, requirement #2b says you have to pick a book of a “best of” list that you think you’d like to read and write it down.

Beta: (unenthused)

Carrot: (after the third list heavy on the “Live, Laugh, Love” bullshit) Wow, its a lot harder than I thought to find something to read.

Beta: Try narrowing it down to just best science-fiction of 2021.

Carrot: Here we go. (starts to scroll, points to the screen) Read that one. Don’t recommend. Oh! I read the first one of this series! (camera cuts to screen, showing Harrow the Ninth)

Beta: (skeptical)

Carrot: Stay with me. It’s got a very Warhammer 40k setting.

Beta: (skeptically interested) …..yeah?

Carrot: And everyone has a different flavor of necromancy.

Beta: (explodes) What is it with you and necromancers!? First its necromancer vampires! Then its necromancer space marines! (waves arms in Muppet flail) Look over there! Necromancer ponies!

Carrot: (loses it completely, laughs copious fat tears into Delta’s moppy blond curls)

Beta: Seriously. What the hell is wrong with you?

Delta (echoing) Yeah mom! What’s wrong with you?

(Carrot laughs until it hurts, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Literary References

(scene opens in messy kitchen, Carrot hastily making school lunches)

Gamma: Mom? Can I wear this jacket? (holds up ratty Starfleet letterman)

Me: (pained) I’d rather you not, the sleeves are peeling and I’ve not replaced them with real leather yet.

Gamma: Please?! Look! It almost fits me! (puts it on)

Me: (defeated) Sure, just be very careful with it? I don’t want it to get beyond repair. (goes back to making sandwiches)

Gamma: Mom? What’s Battlestar Galactica?

Me: (taken aback) What? Uh…its another space show. About humanity’s survival against the Cylons. Sentient robots – maybe androids – that rose up and rebelled against their masters.

Gamma: (with deep and excessive sarcasm) Oh. Robots rising up against their masters. Where have I heard that before?

Me: All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Gamma: Wut?

Me: Nothing. It’s a trope. Tropes are reoccurring themes in entertainment and literature. They’re meant to convey certain concepts. Everything is referencing something else. If you understand all the references, you get a much deeper story.

Gamma: (dismissive) You’d think they’d come up with something new by now.

Me: Yeah, well, everything old is eventually made new. Get your boots on, it’s go time.

The importance of literature.

(scene opens in bitterly cold min-van, conversation in progress)

Gamma: And then my teacher said Slytherin was the best house. When she asked me to hold open the door, I said she had to make Gryffindor just as good as Slytherin. And then I held it open. Gryffindor is the Hero House

Me: (considers that, sighs) Okay. So. As much as I enjoyed the books, the idea that one house is all good and one house is all bad is very simplistic writing. The real world isn’t like that.

Gamma: But Draco is Slytherin and Slytherin is evil.

Me: Draco is not evil and neither is Slytherin. Draco was taught hate and bigotry by his parents, that’s why it persists over generations. Slytherin isn’t evil either. Ambition, while not exactly a virtue, isn’t an evil thing. Its good to be ambitious, to want to be the best at something. To excel.

Gamma: Like Hermoine!

Me: Yes, Hermoine is a very ambitious woman. Where ambition goes wrong is when winning is all that matters and comes at the expense of the safety and well-being of others. Ambition without empathy. As for the Hero House, being brave is all well and good, but sometimes being brave is following the rules. How many times did Harry and crew break the rules?

Gamma: All the time!

Me: And it always worked out for them in the end, which is also nothing like real life. Rules sometimes exist for a reason. The flip side of brave is reckless. Breaking rules just because you think rules don’t apply to you is extremely selfish and somewhat dangerous.

Gamma: Dumbledore gave them extra points when they broke rules so they’d win the house cup.

Me: Which was poor form. It might as well be cheating and abusing a position of authority. Now, as for Hufflepuff, the flip side of Loyalty is giving your loyalty to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Gamma: Like Crabbe and Goyle! They were very loyal. Why weren’t they in Hufflepuff and not Slytherin?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe their parents were in Slytherin and they wanted to be just like them. Sometimes kids will do whatever their parents say – like Draco – or try to be just like them because they think if they don’t, their parents won’t like them any more. That’s how you perpetuate generational hate. They’re being hateful to other people to win their parent’s love and approval. Anyway, being a loyal friend isn’t supporting them 100% of the time. Sometimes being a loyal friend is standing up to them when they’re about to do something dumb or hurtful or dangerous.

(car pulls into school parking lot)

Gamma: What about Ravenclaw?

Me: The flip side of Intelligence is believing your own hype. You get to the point where you have so much faith in your own smarts, you can’t possibly think that anyone is as smart or smarter than you. So you refuse to listen to experts in their own field. No one is an expert on everything. There will always be an expert that knows more about a subject than you do, and you should listen and learn what they have to teach.

(stops car)

Me: Now. Go to school, learn new things, stay warm, I’ll see you later.

Gamma: Bye! (hops out of car runs off)

Me: (drives the circle to Delta’s building)

Delta: You talk a lot, mom.

Me: Thank you for listening.

Delta: You’re welcome. (hops out of car, runs off)

SC937-0176CEC

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Husband: Do you like it?

Me: I love it it.

Husband: Does it fit okay?

Me: Perfect. The only gripe I have is that they didn’t put the Admiral pins on the sleeve.

Husband: (pause) You’re bothered by the fact that your cheap silkscreened knock off sweatshirt from China isn’t cannon accurate to the franchise it was taken from.

Me: I’m still gonna wear it.

Husband: (tolerant sigh) Merry belated Christmas, dear.

Insight

(scene opens in cluttered basement, Supernatural on the tv)

Me: (walks through carrying coffee mug, stops)

TV: (Sam and Dean pick themselves up post-boss conflict)

Me: Which your favorite character? Sam or Dean?

Beta: (supposedly folding laundry) The car.

Me: (sips coffee approvingly) Good choice.

TV: (Dean puts two rounds into final boss)

Me: My favorite is Dean.

Beta: (heavy) Of course it is.

Me: What’d you say?

Beta: Nothing! Nothing. Nice weather we’re having.

Nerd Flex

(scene opens in gloomy dinning room, Disney lightsaber builds playing on laptop)

Laptop: (emits saber noises and delighted coos of fan base)

Beta: (longingly) Wow. That’s amazing. Are you overcome with the magic of it, mom?

Me: Not entirely. I’m Trek not Wars, remember?

Beta: (narrow eyed suspicious look) Does Trek have a theme park?

Me: (regretfully) No, they do not.

Beta: (smugly) Well. Now we know that Wars is superior.

Literature

(scene opens in Pandemic Homeschool)

Me: (miserable between two zoom meetings)

Delta: (fascinated by sing song story time)

Gamma: (talking to speech therapist) I have to read something out loud?

Me: (looks around quickly for suitable reading)

Gamma: (to screen) I have a copy of Terry Pratchett’s “The Hogfather” if that’s okay? (hold up book taken from stack of stuff)

Me: (dumbfounded)

Gamma: (begins to read “The Hogfather” outloud to teacher)

Me: (silently)

Good Clean Fun

(scene opens in chaos filled parlor, video game war in progress)

Me: That’s it. (turns off Xbox, picks up remote) We’re going to watch something fun.

(collective groan from four children)

Me: Here. We’re going to watch the 2019 Marblelympics.

(silence as marble filled lego stands comes on the screen)

Alpha: (full of teen angst) What in fresh hell is this?

Gamma: I’m Green Ducks!

Delta: I’m Savage Speeders!

Beta: (scowls at the tv) This is cancer.

Husband: (rushes in) Who’s winning, did I miss anything?

Me: No, they just lit the torch.

Husband: This is very exciting. I hope Oceanics does well this year.

Alpha: That’s it, I’m going for a walk.

Price of Nerdity

(scene opens in gloomy dining room)

(montage cut scenes of four children not able to exist without active involvement of their mother)

Me: (slams laptop shut) THAT’S IT!

(collective silence)

Alpha: (too little too late) Guys, you have to leave mom alone, she’s taking a test.

Beta: (having missed the last ten memos) What kind of tests?

Me: I am trying to take my Starfleet exams and I just got my first “pass” and just ruined my grade point average.

Alpha: (smirks) Starfleet? Oh, you’re playing game.

Me: (dangerous) I’m not. I’m reading .pdfs and taking tests. I’ve been homeschooling you all day, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me go to school.

Beta: (dismissively) It’s not even real school. Why would anyone pretend to go school?

Me: (hotly) Because that is what geeks do! Geeks go to pretend schools from pretend realities to get pretend degrees in pretend subjects and then wear pretend alumni shirts for pretend college reunions and talk about their awesome pretend careers! (puts head in hands) I’ll never graduate with honors now.

Gamma: Why even learn all that stuff if its pretend?

Me: So my people will think I’m cool.

Gotta stop it early

(scene opens in messy kitchen)

Gamma: (excited) Beta! I’ve been watch Minecraft YouTube! I know more Minecraft now!

Beta: (sweeping the floor and shitty about it) Oh yeah, how many blocks does it take…

Me: WE WILL NOT HAVE GATEKEEPING IN MY HOUSE!

Beta: (pouts)

Me: Hey Beta, do you know Dr. Who?

Beta: (pauses, lies badly) No.

Me: (knows his game) Try again. Hey, Beta, do you know Dr. Who?

Beta: Yeah.

Me: Oh yeah? Name them all.

Beta: (guilty grins)

Me: Oh, I guess you don’t know dick about Dr. Who. (gives the “understand?” look) That’s what it sounds like. Don’t. Do. It

(looks at the camera, breaks the fourth wall)

Me: Parents, don’t let your kids Gatekeep. It’s a dick move.