Back to Normal

(scene opens in laundry room, Carrot knee-deep in clothing)

Me: (pulled laundry out of drier, makes face, pulls out “clean” sock and sniffs it, more ugly face)

Beta: (enters basement)

Me: Beta! Slither hither? (puts laundry of “clean” clothes on the drier) Did you do this load I just pulled out?

Beta: (moderately sullen) Yeah?

Me: (hands sock to sniff) When your socks come out of the dryer smelling like feet, it means they came out of the washer smelling like feet. Did you use detergent?

Beta: Yeah. I used one of those pods. (points to laundry detergent)

Me: Welp, they need to be done again then.

Beta: (without blinking, holds up scout sash, clearly savaged by a wild animal)

Me: Oh. Huh. Looks like Epsilon missed you while you were gone.

Beta: (sadly) Glad he stopped before he got to the merit badges.

Me: Those could have been replaced too. Put it on my sewing table. I’ll go to the scout shop tomorrow.

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.

Did you eat them?

(scene opens in dinning room)

Husband: (grouchy) Beta is wearing shorts.

Me: (too through) I told him to go through Alpha’s dresser for jeans if they’re not in his.

Husband: They say they don’t have any. Alpha has been wearing the same shorts for two weeks now.

Me: But…I went to Goodwill. In a mask. I bought a dozen. It’s a pandemic. We. Haven’t. Been. Anywhere.

Husband: (throws up hands)

Me: (still confused) All the laundry has been done.

Husband: I told them at lunch they’re going up to their room and finding all their pants.

(the two stare at one another)

Me: It’s gonna get real cold in here when the Polar Vortex comes and they have no pants.

Husband: I doubt that will motivate them.

Hand Me Downs

(scene opens up in dim kitchen, soggy Boy Scouts dragging in)

Husband: (sitting on stool, prying off boots) Beta? Did you take the tent to the garage?

Beta: (tiredly) Yeah.

Me: (studies offspring) Beta, I have to get you a new uniform shirt, you’re about to pop buttons off of that, give it to me.

Beta: No mom. It’s fine. (unbuttons uniform anyway, hands it over)

Husband: Take the patches off and burn it. I doubt he’s washed it recently.

Me: I can wash it. (yells out) Gamma! Slither hither!

Husband: No.

(Gamma comes tearing in, Carrot hands over the scout shirt)

Gamma: (puts it on, only slightly oversized, starts flail-dancing)

Husband: Wow. That almost fits.

Gamma: (singing) We’re all growing up and I don’t like it. (runs from the room)

Husband: What the…

Me: That’s been my weekend. I’ll wash the shirt.

Can’t Even

(scene opens in dim basement, Carrot surrounded by laundry baskets)

Me: (sorting t-shirts, stops looks around) Are you still smelling B.O?

Husband: (looks up from computer) I put a load through earlier because it was smelling.

Me: Yeah, I just took that out of the dryer. (sniffs article of clothing, drops it) Jebuz!

Husband: (gets up to look at basket) Did some dirties get in with the clean?

Me: I don’t think so. (Husband and Carrot proceed to sort boy clothes based on smell) Some of them don’t smell at all. How did so much stank get through the wash?

Husband: (turns to stairway, lets out a battlefield yell) BETA!

(Beta hurries downstairs into scene)

Husband: Explain to me your washing process.

Beta: (shrugs) Take the clothes, put them in the machine, close the door, push the button.

(moment of silence)

Me: And when do you put in the laundry pod?

Beta: (tries to affect confusion, fails) What laundry pod?

Husband: Holy god you’ve been washing your clothes without detergent all this time? (points at stank basket) Take these back to the laundry room, I will show you what laundry detergent looks like.

Mommy’s Little Helper

(scene opens in cluttered basement, laundry baskets overflowing with clean laundry)

Me: (folding) Boys, is the basket of laundry in front of the washer clean or dirty?

(pause for processing delay, Alpha muttering complex tactical plans into headphone)

Beta: Clean.

Me: Then can you move it off the dirty laundry pile?

Beta: (into headphone) Hang on, Online Friend, Mom’s talking to me. (pause for digital slaughter) Sure mom, just let me finish this.

Me: (casting about to appropriate basket) That’s fine. I… (stops to remember) Oh, right. Some of the clothes in that basket…

Beta: (into headphone) You need to get up to the platform.

Me: (interrupted, resets) There’s clothes in the basket that aren’t….

Alpha: (into headphone) I’m about five steps ahead of you, we’re running out of time.

Me: (starts to sweat) Delta’s clothes are in the basket…

Beta: (into head phones) Hold here a sec. (mashes some buttons) What did you want mom?

Me: (dazed blank stare, struggling to remember temporal placement)

Delta: (calls from the stairs) You need to se’arate Delta clo’s from you clo’s in ‘a bas’et, Beta.

Beta: Ok. Will do.

Me: (poleaxed) Thank you, Delta. I’m glad someone’s got my back.

Archetypes

(scene opens in laundry strewn basement, Thor: Ragnarok on screen)

Beta: (feverish, weakly laying on couch)
Me: (folding all the laundry) Thor and Loki remind me of you and your brother.
Beta: (pathetically) Which one?
Me: (eyes Delta running up and down the stairs in some pretend game) If I have to tell you, you’re sicker than I though.
Beta: (weak cough)

(on screen, Thor and Loki battle to the ship hangar)

Me: Y’know, they keep trying to kill one another and they still find ways to work together. Maybe you and Alpha should try that for once.
Beta: (whispers) They have mini-lazer guns and are saving the planet.
Me: Maybe the two of you should save the planet known as Mom’s Sanity.
Beta: (mulls that over) Can we have mini-lazer guns?
Me: When Nerf sells them.

You don’t want my solution

(scene opens in dim basement, outraged howling)

Me: (stepping over laundry baskets) What’s going on?
Beta: (dramatic) I don’t want to watch this!
Me: (looks to Gamma’s smug grin to Mother Goose Rhymes singing from TV) You’re not supposed to be watching, you’re supposed to be folding laundry.
Beta: (drama intensifies) That’s it, I’m going upstairs to wait. (stands up)
Me: Sit back down. Here, I’ll make it easier for you. (takes arm chair, turns back to tv, puts unfolded laundry in front of it) Here. Sit. No longer watching tv shows you can’t stand, you can focus on your single basket of laundry that has taken the last half hour for you not to fold. If you were truly motivated, you’d have it done before the second verse of Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Beta: (throws self into chair, goes limp, sobs pathetically, picks up t-shirt with two limp fingers, holds to face to mask suffering)

Contractual Obligations

(scene opens in dim basement rec room)

Me: (hot) Over the weekend you swore that all the laundry would get folded while you watched tv. Look. Not a single damn basket folded. You even tried to hide this basket behind the couch. Fold it. Now.
Beta: (whining) But….but… (tears on cue)
Me: I swear to god. This tv doesn’t go on until all the laundry is folded.
Beta: (turns and slouches away)
Me: Where the hell are you going?!
Beta: (sobbing) You said the tv couldn’t go on until the laundry is done, so I’m going to my room to read a book since I can’t watch tv.
Me: Sweet Zombie Jebuz! That threat means you fold the goddamn laundry! Do it now!
Beta: (more sobbing, limply picking up towels and wadding them together)
Me: (flees scene in attempt to stave off murder)