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)

Ending on a High Note

(scene opens in holiday wrecked dinning room, Carrot at table looking frazzled)

Husband: (enters from kitchen)

Me: (tense) We have to take Delta to the planitarium.

Husband: Why?

Delta: (grins) Mommy and I were talking about burn out.

Husband: (stares in WTF)

Me: (closes eyes, sighs) He was asking what “burn out” means and wanted to know why we haven’t invented limitless energy – his words, not mine – and I explained that everything burns out, even the sun which has already existed for millions of years and will burn out millions of years in the future. He’s now asking me astronomical questions I don’t have answers to.

Husband: (stirring tea) Huh.

Me: Y’know – I prepared for endless kid questions by learning why the sky is blue and as of yet, not a single one has asked that. But meanwhile, I’ve had to show them how to use a bookmark and how to work the pull-tab on a can.

Husband: (tries for stoicism, fails, begins to laugh)

Delta: You know, I can hear you mom. Why is the sky blue? (grin turns smug)

Me: (puts head down on desk)

Husband: I’ll put that down as a “Brought it on yourself.”

Scattered Knowledge

(scene opens in dark car, Pandora Radio playing a commercial for Dexter)

Alpha: (derisively) Who names a serial killer Dexter. That’s a ridiculous name.

Me: (absently) Dexter is the opposite of Sinister. Sinister is the left, Dexter is the right, which is why if you can use both hands it’s called ambidextrous. Dexter is a serial killer who only hunts serial killers. He’s on the right side of sinister.

Alpha: (long silence) And where on the internet did you get that?

Me: I didn’t. I came up with it on my own. But I bet someone else on the internet came up with it too.

Alpha: (mockingly) Oh, look I’m making up word meanings.

Me: Do it! Look it up! Look up what dexter means.

(long silence)

Me: Did you find it?

Alpha: No. I decided to believe you.

Me: (shocked) Oh now you decide to start listening to me?

Alpha: Well, you’re the one making things up, seems easier just to let you go on.

Me: You know how you get all this random knowledge? Read. Read a lot. Read tons. Get yourself some accidental knowledge. Then you, too, will also see the deeper hidden meanings of things.

Alpha: Or I could just sit here and laugh over memes showing a pumpkin carved into a troll face. (cut scene to shitty meme on phone)

Me: (gives up) Despair. You make me. I am full.

Never That Easy

(scene opens in mini van)

Me: Alright Delta! It’s a Friday! Still liking school?

Delta: (morose) Not really.

Me: Why not?

Delta: (melancholy sigh) Well…it’s just….it’s just that I know everything already.

Me: Really. Huh.

(prolonged silence)

Me: So, what you need to do is do really well on all your tests and they’ll move you up a grade.

Delta: Move me?

Me: Yeah, if you show them how smart you are, instead of going second grade next year, you go to third. You can skip one.

Delta: (with wonder) Really? I think I will do that! That is a great idea! Thanks mom!

Me:

This again?

(scene opens in mini van)

Me: (takes off mask) So, tell me all about your first lesson.

Gamma: (deer in headlights, holds up drum sticks) It was fun?

Me: Tell me something you learned.

Gamma: (taps dashboard with sticks) Uh…eighth notes?

Me: Eighth notes? (brings up hands to clap) One-and-two-and-three-and-four-and?

Gamma: (gasps) How did you know that?!

Me: (deep mental sigh) Gamma, what instrument did I use to play?

Gamma: Guitar?

Me: No! Baritone! Like Beta!

Gamma: Baritones have eighth notes too?!

Me: (deeper mental sigh) Honey, music is music. They all have eighth notes.

Why Are People

(scene opens in mini van, a rare silence)

Gamma: (staring out the window) Mom, what was that building?

Me: (mental sigh) A strip club. Its a place where men pay money to watch women take off their clothes and drink alcohol.

Gamma: (shocked) Why are there places like that?

Me: Because men will pay money to watch women take off their clothes and drink alcohol.

Gamma: (moar shocked) Why do women work there?

Me: Uh… because money. Its the only job they can get for whatever reason.

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Don’t kink shame, Carrot!

Me: (out loud) And I suppose it’s possible that some enjoy it.

Gamma: (weary) I’m sorry I asked.

(awkward silence, fade to black)

I showed them

(scene opens at cluttered dining room table)

Me: (frowning over embroidery hoop)

Gamma: (sitting stupidly close, poking at her tablet) Mom, which is a German horse breed? Shetland, Holsteiner, or Gelderland?

Me: (stops, perplexed) Why on earth are you asking me that?

Gamma: I’m playing Horse Haven and I can earn coins for answering horse questions.

Me: Oh. (thinks) Uh, I’d guess Holsteiner. (turns back to embroidery)

Gamma: Yes! (silent a moment) Mom? What’s the name of Alexander the Great’s horse? Is it…

Me: (doesn’t look up) Bucephalus.

Gamma: (jackpot noise from tablet) You’re right! I got a thousand coins! You’re so smart, mom.

Me: There have been times in my life I’ve been mocked for knowing that.

Opportunity strikes

(scene opens in tossed dinning room)

Alpha: (thinking himself clever) Mom, if people evolved from monkeys, why do we still have monkeys?
Me: (shock) Did you just seriously ask me that question?
Alpha: (bravado wavers a bit) Yeah.
Me: (anticipatory stretch, cracks knuckles) I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Sit down while I learn you good. Its been a while since I used the Anthro degree. (picks up pencil to sketch out hominid family tree)

(time passes, multiple cut scenes follow, science happens)

Alpha: (whimpers)
Me: There. And that’s why, my little hairless ape, there are both monkeys and human beings. Before you decide this play this trick again, the same goes for dogs and wolves. Unless you’re dumb enough to think that pre-historic saber-toothed Bichon Frise roamed the earth hunting undersized mammoths.
Alpha: (slinks off to kitchen to do dishes)

Work Smarter

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Alpha: (suffering) Why are we doing this!? We’re the only kids in the whole neighborhood doing summer work.
Me: Because I want you to be smarter than you are now.
Alpha: I don’t want to be smarter, I want to be like everyone else.
Me: (dies a little)
Beta: “The lowest point in the US is in California. What is the name of this point?” Duh, California.
Me: Death Valley.
Boys: (stare)
Me: Get back to work.