(scene opens in sewing room sweatshop, violin practice off screen)
Alpha: How was that? Am I all done?
Me: (puts down bodice) I think you could play a little bit longer, but it sounds good. I have to talk to you about something.
Alpha: (approaches hesitantly)
Me: Have you talked to Girlfriend recently?
Alpha: (wary brave face) Yeah. A couple of times.
Me: (tactfully lets it pass) We need to discuss the “Care and Feeding of the Girlfriend”. They’re not like houseplants where you talk to them once a month and everything is fine. Put your violin away then go upstairs and call her. You don’t have to plan anything, we’re probably busy this weekend, maybe you can meet at the park on Monday, but just tell her “Hey, thinking of you, wanted to see how things were going over your summer.”
Alpha: (tension ratchets down) You think so? Okay! (volin snaps into place, pounding upstairs offscreen)
Me: (licks finger, hash marks the air for a win)
(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.
(scene opens with Saturday homework extravaganza)
Alpha: (reading merit badge book!) Mom! There are aliens! This amendment gives the government the ability to make aliens US citizens!
Me: Anyone not born in this country is considered “alien”. Mexicans are aliens, Russians are aliens, the Irish are aliens.
Alpha: But we’re all human.
Me: The world is very tribal. Everyone identifies themselves by country and/or religion. That’s why we have war. People are from the “wrong” country or the “wrong” religion.
Alpha: (downcast) Humans are stupid.
Me: (with infinite gentleness) We’re not stupid. We’re incredibly shortsighted.
(scene opens with an excited explanation of how a Punnett square works)
Alpha: Mom, how come all my teachers are women?
Me: It’s kinda just how it happens. Women are very smart.
Alpha: Then why are there more men in the military than women? If they’re smarter, they could plan special operations and secret missions and lines of attack.
Me: Because men can lift heavy things.
Alpha: (pause) Brains and brawn?
Me: Something like that.
(Scene opens at grade school touring 6th grade country projects)
Me: (looking over a display on Japan) Nice work, Alpha
Alpha: They have all sorts of festivals too.
Me: Oh yeah, they have the Cherry Blossom one, one for a full moon, one for kids, probably one for incense, one for the royal family.
Alpha’s Friend: They also have one for spring that has…. (trails off)
Me: They have several for spring. Or are you talking about the one where they carry the bier with a….(realizes she’s about to say “oversized penis” to a 6th grader on school property)
Alpha’s Friend: Yeah. That one.
Alpha: You know about that one mom? How do you know about that one?
Me: I know lots of things. But yes, they have that “other” spring festival too.