Too Much Creativity

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Gamma: (fresh from school) Mom! I have to make a machine for school tomorrow!
Me: Wha..? Why?
Gamma: I…(self aware pause) I didn’t finish it in class. Maybe draw it?
Me: Do you have to make or draw?
Gamma: (mental processing) …both? I need a machine that makes my life easier with snacks.
Me: (can’t even) With what? Snacks?
Gamma: Whatever we have in the house. Its a machine about snacks.

(scene cuts to cluttered dinning room)

Me: There. You have styrofoam cups, bendy straws, tape, scissors, and this aluminum tray you brought home from school. Have at.
Gamma: Whee!(proceeds to cut everything into confetti)
Me: Uh, what are you making?
Gamma: I’m just cutting.
Me: What about your snack machine?!?
Gamma: (surveys carnage) Oh. I forgot.

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This again?

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Alpha: (sawing his way through Dona Nobis Pacem)
Me: No, you need to hold that note longer.
Alpha: (scowls, saws through it again)
Me: What’s the key signature?
Alpha: One sharp. That’s F#?
Me: Yes. Sounds like you’re playing all of them sharp.
Alpha: No I’m not! You don’t know how this song goes!
Me: Seriously. (Sings Dona Nobis Pacem perfect Catholic School acapella) Why do you think you’re ever going to win a music fight with me? I’m not even anywhere near the moderately competent musician my school ever released into the wild.
Alpha: (says nothing, goes back to sawing, only half the notes sharp)

Not a Rickroll

(scene opens at dinner table)

Beta: My music teacher told me that I needed to watch 4:33.
Me: (processing) What?
Beta: 4:33. Both he and the orchestra teacher were laughing about it. It’s a music video.
Me: Oh! Yes. (starts laughing) Of course we can watch it. (calls up the orchestral version of John Cage’s 4’33)

(minute goes by)

Gamma: When are they going to start playing?
Beta: For real. They’re just sitting there.

(second minute goes by)

Beta: I don’t get it. Why is this funny?
Gamma: They’re not playing.

(third minute goes by)

Gamma: This is boring! Where’s the music?!
Beta: (extreme suffering) I don’t get it! Tell me why this is so funny!
Me: (calls up the sheet music for 4’33)
Beta: (incredulous) Rests. The whole thing is rests. Why the hell would anyone write a piece of just rests!? And why wouldn’t anyone think that’s funny?
Me: (starts giggling)

Basic Math

(scene opens in afternoon dining room, argument in progress)

Me: (exasperated) You’re racking up a list of missing assignments! Where are they? Are you eating them?!
Alpha: (sullen, stomps out of the room, comes back with piles of papers) Here they are!
Me: (shocked) You had them this whole time? Why didn’t you turn them in?!
Alpha: (darkly) I couldn’t figure out these problems. (points to various problems on different pages)
Me: (trouble processing) So…you couldn’t figure out a single problem out of twelve and so you didn’t turn it in?
Alpha: (defensive) Yeah.
Me: (voice from the grave) So, instead of getting five 80% homework assignments turned in, you opted for five zeros.

(long pause)

Alpha: Yeah. I’m doing them all right now, aren’t I?
Me: (resigned) Honestly, I don’t care if you do them or not, but you’re turning in all these worksheets in tomorrow and you’ll be lucky to get 30% on them for being late. But better than zeros. Goddamnit, Alpha, some is better than none when talking about grades and money.

Taken on faith

(scene opens up in tossed dining room, everyone on laptops)

Beta: (sounds of frustration) That doesn’t make sense!
Me: (getting up from chair) What’s the problem?
Beta: I’m doing powers and it keeps telling me I’m wrong! Six to the power of zero! It isn’t six or zero, so what is it?!? Khan Academy is broken!
Me: (stares at screen, recalls distant memory, types, computer makes victory noise)
Beta: (outraged) A one?!? How is six to the zero power a one?!
Me: I don’t remember why it is, it just is. (sits back down)
Alpha: Math is stupid.
Me: Math is the Universal Language, but sometimes language doesn’t make sense.

Lingual Angst

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (types word into Google translate for correct pronunciation) Okay Gamma, first spelling word: Calabaza.
Gamma: (scribbles it down, shows mother)
Me: ….Couv? Try again (hands back paper) Ca-la-ba-za.
Gamma: (tries again)
Me: …Trqb? (temper rising) No. Try. Again. Ca. La. Ba. Za.
Gamma: (hurriedly marks paper)
Me: CLBZ? Do you not hear vowels?! What’s a vowel?
Gamma: (nervous) Person, place, or thing?
Me: (flips table) Go to your room. I have to write a letter to your teacher.

Don’t Be That Guy

(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)

Just eat it

(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)

(time passes)

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)

Generosity on the side

(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.

That doesn’t mean what you think it means

(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.

Job descriptions

(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.

Parent Advisory

(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.