Behind the 8 Ball

(scene opens at New Year’s table, Dominion being set up amid the snacks)

Me: Alpha, where are you?
Alpha: (offscreen, sullen) Here.
Beta: C’mon dude, we’re going to play a card game!
Alpha: (deeper sullen) No.
Me: (frustrated) Alpha, would you please come to the table? It’s New Year’s Eve and we’re doing new family traditions. Could we play some games, please?
Alpha: (storms into the room) No! I don’t want to do nerd things! I don’t want to be a nerd!
Me: (dies a little, mists up) Oh honey, you have no idea how badly you’ve already lost that fight.

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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.

State of the Nation

(scene opens at the dinner table)

Me: (lights the first candle in the menorah and the first candle on an Advent wreath)
Beta: Why are we lighting the menorah if we’re not Jewish?
Husband: We’re not exactly Christian either.
Me: (firmly) Every culture has a celebration of lights during the dark of the year. The first week of Advent represents Hope, so tonight we focus on our Hopes for the season and the coming year. We light the menorah as a reminder that we stand with our Jewish cousins. In this country, people are still terrorized for being…
Husband: (calmly) When she says “terrorized” she means “being killed”.

(awkward pause)

Alpha: No way.
Husband: (to wife) Don’t you remember a few months ago? Eleven people shot at a synagogue?
Me: (thinks) I thought it was a shopping mall.
Husband: Starting to become hard to tell them apart, isn’t it?

(another awkward pause)

Gamma: (brightly) Let’s eat!

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)

Lame Start

(scene opens in early morning parlor)

Gamma: (still in pjs with sequined sleep mask) Mom! I looked everywhere for the presents and there isn’t anything!
Me: (confused, re-heating yesterday’s coffee) Honey, Christmas isn’t for another few weeks.
Gamma: No! Wolfenoot! There’s supposed to be presents!
Me: Oh honey, yesterday was Wolfenoot. Its on your birthday. That’s why you got a stuffed wolf.
Gamma: (crushed) When’s the next Wolfenoot! Do I have to wait another year?!
Me: Yes, you have to wait another year. Things got busy this month, I promise next year the Spirit of the Wolf will do a better job.
Gamma: (slumps out of the room) That was the worst Wolfenoot ever.
Me: (calls after her) It was the first Wolfenoot ever! We’ve not had enough practice! (to self) Man, no love for the Wolf Mom.

Eat All The Things

(scene opens in brighter kitchen, partially clean)

Me: Tart chilling, cran-apple sauce chilling, butternut soup in the crock. Time for breakfast. (takes mini-cupcake off a tray) Please tell me you had one of these before I eat them all.
Husband: (washing dishes) No.
Me: They’re delicious. Pumpkin spice cake with cream-cheese frosting. You didn’t have any last time and I bought these specifically for breakfast.
Husband: (dismissive) You don’t have cupcakes for breakfast.
Me: (outraged) Why not?! There are breakfast burritos, no reason we can’t have breakfast cupcakes! (takes another mini cupcake) Besides, now its noon and so now they’re lunch cupcakes.

Our Truest Selves

(scene opens up on street corner, school bus pulling up)

Delta: (climbing the stairs) ‘Appy ‘Allo-een!
Jolly Bus Driver: Happy Halloween buddy! (gives high five)
Delta: I got pajamas on! (trots off to his seat, compares pjs with seat mate)
JBD: I suppose doing pajama day on Halloween is easier than costumes?
Me: I would guess. All day in costume would wear them out.
JBD: (tugs on overall strap that he wears daily) I dressed as a farmer today! (laughs uproariously)
Me: I dressed as a well-adjusted mother of four.

(More uproarious laughter)

I am altering the deal

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Me: Gamma, Delta’s therapist is coming in a few minutes, I want you to go downstairs until she leaves.
Gamma: But there’s nothing to do! Alpha’s playing Halo!
Me: (inaudible swearing, pounds on floor, older boys summoned)
Beta: What?
Me: Turn off Halo. Turn on Star Wars.
Alpha: What? Why?
Me: Today is May the fourth. Today is Star Wars day. You have to sit in the basement and watch Star Wars all day.
Beta: (suspicious) Seriously?
Me: Seriously. It’s May the fourth. And really, what else are you doing to do on a day off from school when its raining?

(Alpha and Beta share incredulous looks, run off to do mother’s bidding)

Me: (mutters) And how else am I going to keep from learning a force choke?

Understanding fate

(scene opens in the foyar)

Gamma: (looking at all the Christmas cards on the glass door) Momma? Who’s this?
Me: (surveys cards) That’s Krampus. He takes away all the bad children and eats them.
Gamma: (alarmed) Then how will you get me back?!
Me: ….I think you’re missing the point.
Gamma: (outraged) Then what happens to bad adults?!
Me: I think they become Krampus.

Easter Loot

(scene opens in gloomy dining room, dusted with Easter grass)

Beta: Where are all the eggs?
Me: I don’t know. You’ll have to look.
Beta: (looks out window, sees 100 plastic eggs on the yard) Oh my god.
Alpha: (turns to look) Dear lord.
Me: (sips coffee, smug)
Beta: How did our eggs get outside?!
Me: I don’t know.
Alpha: That’s never happened before. Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come inside?
Me: Dunno. Maybe the door was locked and he couldn’t get in.
Beta: Then where are our eggs if he couldn’t get the house?
Alpha: And where did he get all those eggs if he couldn’t get ours?
Me: He’s the Easter Bunny. He’s magic. Maybe he pooped them out.
Alpha: Well, I’m not touching them.

Meteorology Games

(scene opens over dish washing)

Beta: Mom, explain this groundhog thing to me.
Me: On the second of February, the groundhog comes out and it’s bright and sunny, he sees his shadow, gets scared, goes back to his burrow and its six more weeks of winter. If he comes out and it’s cloudy, no shadow and he just tools around doing his groundhogy thing, then winter is over and spring has arrived.
Beta: That doesn’t make sense. It should be the opposite. If the sun is out and the weather is nice, winter is over and winter is still here if it’s cold and cloudy.
Me: (mental sigh as she tries to find the words) Groundhog Day is a…poetic conceit? The cultural game we all play and pretend to go along with. No one actually believes it, we just go along with it.
Beta: But what happens if the groundhog says it’s spring?
Me: He never does! It is always six more week of winter because it is six weeks from February 2nd to the March 21st, which is when spring starts.
Beta: Then why do we do it?
Me: (starts up lecture of the cultural forerunners, Imbolc and Candlemas, then realize that no one is listening to her) Because humans are silly.
Beta: Oh, that makes sense.

‘Tis the season

(scene opens in much more tidy dining room)
Beta: Why aren’t we opening presents!?
Me: Your father is still sleeping.
Beta: But it’s Christmas!
Me: That’s what he wanted for Christmas, to sleep in.
Beta: We’re dying!
Me: Wait until the cinnamon rolls come out and then you can go jump on him.