Hard to tell

(scene opens at zoo. Mom and child with activity backpack)

Gamma: Look at the bunnies! I’m a wild animal too, mama.

Me: (without inflection) Really. I had no idea. Okay Gamma, station four. (hands over ziplock bag) What is our activity?

Gamma: (pulls out laminated cards) Domestic Animals. Am I a domestic animal, mama?

Me: (hesitates) No. I’m pretty sure you’re not.

Gamma: (continues to read) Domestic animals are animals that can’t take care of themselves, they do not know how to find food or shelter in the wild. See, mama? I’m totally a domestic animal.

Me: (resigned) I stand corrected.

Advertisements

Why I get nothing done

(scene opens in school office)

Me: (holding snack pack and water bottle)
School Admin: (enters with morose Gamma) And she broke her promise.
Me: (hands over gear) You weren’t doing your work?
Gamma: (sadly) No. It was hard.
Me: (sigh) We do things not because they’re easy, but because they’re hard.

(school staff collectively stare)

Gamma: That makes no sense.
Me: How else are you going to learn if you only do what you already know? Get back to class, behave yourself. Yo quiero tú estudias espańol.
Gamma: Sí, mama.

(cut scene, mother walks into the house, sees school binder on the floor, picks it up, sighs, swears, heads back to school)

Ich bin müde

(Scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: (looking up from laptop) What are you doing?
Alpha: My German homework.
Me: On your Chromebook?
Alpha: I’m using Google Translate.
Me: (headdesk) Ohmigod. You’ve been doing all your homework with Google Translate?! I think we’ve just figured out why you’re getting full points on homework and failing every test!
Alpha: (explosively defensive) I’m an idiot when it comes to my tests. I don’t know shit and I don’t know why!
Me: Because if you don’t try to memorize the vocab during homework, you won’t remember it for the tests! This is what studying is! (points to the page) “ein Ei essen”. What does that mean?
Alpha: (sullen) Don’t know.
Me: (exhausted) Ei is egg and essen is food.
Alpha: (sinks lower in his chair)
Me: Remember when you threw down at the beginning of the year about how what a waste of time doing DuoLingo was because it wasn’t exactly what you were covering in class? I now officially know more German than you. Now I get to order flash cards so I can quiz you on vocab for an hour every night.
Alpha: (headdesk)
Me: Yes, I’m very excited about it too.

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)

Time, Time, Time

(scene opens in dim dinning room)

Alpha: (comes in foyer, shedding snow)
Me: (concerned) What are you doing home? Did they cancel track?
Alpha: No, I have homework.
Me: (appalled) ….you ditched track to do homework? You’ve missed all of last week’s practice already! How much do you have?
Alpha: I have to finish the late worksheet.
Me: That’s it? (temper rises) How long do you think that’s going to take you?
Alpha: (hesitantly) All night?
Me: You actually have no clue how much homework you have on any given night, which is amazing since you never bring homework home.
Alpha: (defensively sullen) I didn’t think I could run if I had homework.
Me: (shakes fists at the sky, shrieking) School. Practice. Homework. Dinner. Bed. There is time for all things under heaven! What kind of life do you think you’re going to live where you can clear your entire calendar for twenty minutes worth of work?
Alpha: (tearfully sullen) A life on the streets.
Me: (collects with difficulty) Even street people have a schedule in an effort to survive. Thank you for making homework a priority.

(Alpha exits, Mother screams silently and tears out hair)

Science might happen

(scene opens in oddly clean kitchen)

Beta: What are we having for dinner?
Me: (cleaning down counter) Ribs.
Beta: (distressed) I don’t like ribs! I have all the ingredients for my quesadillas and I haven’t made them yet.
Me: (affronted) What do you mean you don’t like ribs? Its cow. Cow is steak. You like steak.
Beta: It has bones!
Me: Steak sometimes has bones in it! Think of it as steak on the cob! You can eat it with your hands!
Beta: (tilts head) Can you do that? Cook steak on the cob? Around the corn?
Me: (stops cold) I…don’t know. I suppose you could. Get some really thin steak, tenderize it, get a good rub, wrap it around the cob and then grill?
Beta: Like really thick bacon.

(both pause, re-considering life goals)

Me: Wow.
Beta: Yeah. Wow.

(music crescendos, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Lingual Conundrum

(scene opens at cluttered dinning table)

Gamma: (falling apart) I don’t know how to write a sentence in Spanish for this word! I don’t know the meaning of this word! (collapses over worksheet)
Me: (temper fraying, goes to Google Translate) Uh….”gitano” means…gypsy? (finches) That can’t be right. (close up on screen repeats definition)
Gamma: What does gypsy mean?!?
Me: (flinches again) Uh…its an ethnic group…
Gamma: (wailing) HOW DO I USE IT IN A SENTENCE!?!?
Me: (closes eyes, steels herself) Can you write “I like gypsy music?”
Gamma: (in tears) WHAT IS GYPSY MUSIC?
Me: (grimaces, calls up Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple” on YouTube)
Gamma: (covers ears) THIS IS AWFUL! TURN IT OFF!
Me: (does so)
Gamma: (laboriously writing, speaking aloud) Mi mama me gusto…

Fun Sponge

(scene opens at crowded breakfast table)

Beta: Mom! Mom! Mom!
Me: (shuffles out of kitchen, clutching coffee)
Beta: I got a question for you!
Gamma: (giggles conspiratorially)
Me: Hit me.
Beta: (smugly) What came first? The chicken or the egg?
Me: (sips coffee) The egg.
Beta: (not expecting an answer) How do you figure?
Me: Dinosaurs laid eggs. Birds evolved from dinosaurs. Chickens are birds. (sips coffee)
Gamma: (changes the direction of her laughter)
Beta: Wow, mom. Way to ruin a good riddle.
Me: I live to serve. (shuffles back into the kitchen)

Its Funny Because its True

(scene opens in dinning room)

Me: (harried, going over high school registration forms) Alpha, you can’t switch to Spanish next year, you’re taking German 2.
Alpha: (outraged) But wouldn’t it make more sense to learn a language everyone here is already speaking?!
Me: You can take Spanish in college if you want. Or you can start Spanish DuoLingo.
Alpha: But I’m already doing German DuoLingo as homework.
Me: You can do more than one at a time. I’m doing three right now.
Alpha: (sullen) But one of them is Klingon and that doesn’t count.
Husband: He’s not wrong.
Me: (harumphs)

To Try Men’s Souls

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: So how was school? Any homework? (sips coffee)
Beta: Yeah, English. I have to find a word that describes me that rhymes with the sound of my name.
Me: (pause, confused) You have to find a descriptive word that rhymes with your name? Or one that starts with the same letter?
Beta: (instantly exasperated) Rhymes with my name!
Me: (pretty sure he’s wrong) There aren’t going to be any descriptive words that sound like your name, honey.
Beta: (falls apart, verge of tears) It has to rhyme with the “L” sound.
Me: (staying calm, grits out) Rhyme is the wrong word. Rhyme is “bat, cat, rat, prat”. Starting with the same letter is completely different. (Points to computer) Get on Thesaurus.com and look up a word.
Beta: (hysterical) But I don’t even know what word I’m looking for yet.
Me: (slams hands on table) Would you just trust my judgement for once and get on the computer!
Beta: (does so, stares at blanks screen for five minutes, quivering with tears)
Me: (sighs deeply, leans over to type)

(close up on screen shows word “argumentative”)

Me: There. (conversationally reads) Belligerent. Combative. Contrary. Litigious. Litigious is a good word. That starts with the letter “L”.
Beta: (bright and cheery) Yeah! It is a good word.
Me: (stares into the blackness that is her coffee)

Begin the beginning

(scene opens in mostly clean dinning room)

Me: (sets up laptops) Duolingo for everyone!
Kids: (groan)
Me: Come on, you can do this.

(ten minutes of failure noises from the computers)

Gamma: I don’t know anything!
Beta: This program is stupid, it doesn’t know anything.
Alpha: Why can’t I figure this out?
Me: (goes to check each computer screen, obviously struggling with calm) Okay. Somehow I failed to give you the explicit instruction to start on “Basic”. You realize you’re trying to do the levels that already assume a level of fluency?
Alpha: (defensively) There were less lessons at that level!
Me: But you don’t speak German!
Beta: But if there were only three exercises, how hard could it be? There are fourteen on the first level! That’s a lot harder!
Me: (facepalms) You need to learn how to say hello before you can recite poetry, guys.
Gamma: Hola, mama!
Beta: (snarls) That’s not German!
Me: (Throws up hands) SHE’S LEARNING SPANISH!

Learn you good

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Me: (enters, sees Gamma on the computer) Gamma? What are you doing?
Gamma: Watching videos of games! (Pouty lipped cartoon character on the screen, with lipstick choices)
Me: (flinches inwardly) How about you watch something a little more intellectually stimulating than putting fake make up on a fake person?

(mother leaves, back momentarily, sees Gamma typing)

Me: Now what are you watching?
Gamma: I’m trying to find Kurzgesagt. Is that okay?
Me: (pauses, impressed) That’s fine.