Technology makes life easier!

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: Okay, Alpha! Ready to go get your driver’s license?

Alpha: (glumly) No.

Me: Excellent. (checks webpage) Says we need to bring one piece of documentation from sections A, B, C, and D. Got your birth certificate and social security card?

Alpha: (holds them up) Check.

Me: Proof of address?

Alpha: (holds up college letter, state ID, and driver’s permit) Check.

Me: Proof of Insurance?

Alpha: (holds up insurance paper) Check.

Me: We ride!

(cut scene to parking lot of sad struggling strip mall)

Door Guard: Does he have all his paperwork? Are you 18?

Alpha: (hands over folder) Yes.

Door Guard: (rifles paperwork) You have to stay out here, mom. Appointments only and he’s adult.

Me: Cool. (sides on a concrete riser)

(time passes, Alpha returns)

Alpha: They say I need a high school transcript to prove I took Driver’s Ed. I’m not in the system.

Me: (dumbfounded) Not in the system? (goes to Door Guard) He needs a high school transcript?

Door Guard: Yeah, bring a high school transcript and they send it to Springfield and once he’s in the system he can take the driver’s test.

Me: (hotly) That wasn’t on the list of required documentation.

Door Guard: (shrugs) It’s a state law.

Me: (with poison) And where does it say that on the web site for required documentation?

Door Guard: (shrugs again) You can come back later today.

Me: (calling up the fire within) Then what was the point of making an appointment?

(Door Guard shrugs a third time, doesn’t answer, turns away. Carrot pulls out her phone and begins frantically researching and typing while Alpha hovers nervously by)

Me: Oh! They can email me a transcript! Maybe the day is saved. (types some more and pauses)

Alpha: What?

Me: They can email me a transcript. For three dollars and it’ll arrive in five business days.

(Carrot closes eyes and breaths deeply)

Alpha: (nervously) I’m really sorry mom.

Me: (kindly) It’s not your fault, Alpha. We followed all the instructions given to us. They just didn’t give us all the instructions.

Carrot’s Inner Voice:

He’s getting better.

(scene opens in dining room not Carrot’s. Family party in progress, mostly adults around the table)

Beta: (takes empty chair, downs the last of a bottle of root beer)

Cousin K: You drank it all?

Beta: Yeah.

Carrot: I thought you liked root beer.

Beta: I do. Just that it was super flat. I went to take off the cap and it just fell off like someone had opened it.

(silence falls)

Aunt T: It’s a good idea not to drink bottles that have already been opened.

Husband: That’s someone cracking it open at the store, taking a drink and putting it back.

Me: Or putting something inside of it.

Beta: (shrugs)

(scene ends)

(new scene in grocery store refrigerated aisle)

Me: (looking at prices of small juice bottles) It says three for five – did you want to try the cranberry flavor? Get an OJ, apple, and then cranberry?

Beta: Sure.

(Carrot reaches up to get the cranberry juice)

Beta: Wait! Look at the lid.

(camera close up on broken seal)

Beta: We probably shouldn’t drink that. See? I can learn! (laughs stupidly)

Me: Your father would be so proud of you. You just might live to see adulthood.

School Days, School Days

(scene opens in chilly mini-van)

Gamma: Mom, how come my school has numbers instead of grades?

Me: (weary sigh) Grade schools like to go with numbers, for some reason. By the time you get to high school, you’ll be back on that whole A, B, C grading system.

Gamma: What’s a GPA?

Me: (tries to remember the words) Grade Point Average. Every letter grade is worth a certain amount of points. As are like 4 and Fs are 0. You add all those points together and divide them by how many classes you took and that’s your average. If you get all As, you have an A average. If you get a mix, you might have only a C average. Its hard to get your grade point up after a certain point because of math.

Gamma: Why do we have GPA?

Me: Well….okay. The way it was taught to me was that you had to get good grades in grade school so you could get into honors classes in high school and get more points on top of your good grades so you had a wicked high GPA so you could apply to colleges and they’d go “Wow! Look at this GPA! I bet they’re really smart!” and they’d let you in so you could get more high grades and put that on your resume and companies would go “Wow! Look at that GPA! They’re really smart, we want them to come work for us!” and that would translate to more money.

(moment of silence)

Me: Which….if you think about it….is really kind of soulless. I want you to get good grades because it means you’re learning and understanding the material. Theoretically. Learn. Learn, learn, learn, never stop learning. Learn to love learning. Read books, watch documentaries, talk to experts. Hell, observe the world and talk to people who’ve sunk thousands of hours into their hobbies. Figure out what you like to do and we’ll go from there and make it work somehow.

(mini van pulls into drop off)

Gamma: I’m going to be a YouTuber.

Me: (disappointed sigh) Maybe something better than a YouTuber.

Gamma: (scathingly) Way to support your own daughter, mom. (Jumps out of van)

Delta: I know what I want to do when I grow up.

Me: Oh yeah?

Delta: Have fun.

Me: Good attitude to have, Delta. Have fun at school.

Delta: And you have the best day of your life, mom.

(Delta exits van, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Parenting in the Time of Pandemic

Means yelling at your kids at the breakfast table that they’re going to be late for school. Which is in the parlor.

Means waking up your spouse early for IT support on the laptops to make sure the in-house security doesn’t block the 400 different learning platforms required for each child. Making them late for work. Which is in the basement.

Means the dog is pissed off that his walk is delayed because attendance is during his normal walk time. Hiding shoes so he doesn’t chew them to show his displeasure.

Wondering why the schools bothered to send home the Chromebooks for everyone if they didn’t bother to also send the headphones, sending you scrambling for the gaming headsets and hope they fit smaller noggins.

Being told by every school employee that attendance is mandatory by 8 in the posted zoom link. But the zoom link is never posted.

Listening to one of your children bitch they’re at the small table with an uncomfortable chair, but its the only place/arrangement where you can see their screen after finding out too late in 2020 they spent most of the school year in chat rooms playing clicky games.

Also listening to that same child perform for the camera and finding over-sold laughter a trigger for murderous inclinations.

Living with the fact that your kid refuses to brush their hair for the camera, but letting it go because they’re at least wearing their uniform shirt. Pandemic Hair(tm) on a small is weirdly adorable.

Realizing that your back-to-the-gym schedule has been shelved. Again. Wondering if you got your money’s worth in 2021 since you won’t be in 2022.

Coming to terms that you are now chained to the dinning room table as a distance learning room monitor for the duration of this shut down.

Considering catching Omicron just for a week in quarantine.

Not liking the way you lumber across your child’s live feed like a dumpy hausfrau sasquatch, knowing that parent sightings are a way of life now. The teacher is just glad you’re trying to take an active part in the proceedings.

Hating Pandemic Homeschool Zoom Gym Class with a passion. Trust me. They run around this house enough to qualify as passing a Presidential Fitness Test.

Wondering if your high schoolers are actually having class or if they’re so short on staff, most of it is just study hall for not having anyone to teach.

Realizing it took five days into the new year to totally trash your vague “Do Something With My Life” New Year’s resolution.

Wondering if reheating the same cup of coffee a dozen times makes it bitter. Or if its just you.

Life Lessons

(montage of setting the Bigs to tasks, finding them half finished, calling them back)

Me: (standing in dinning room, pointing) So. Those dinning room chairs you were going to put back around the table after you vaccum?

(cut to one chair at table, rest in the parlor)

Beta: (sheepishly) Oh. Yeah right.

Me: You guys need to be boomerangs. Come back to me. Not arrows and stick where you land.

Alpha: We’re Wal*Mart boomerangs.

Me: No. Strive to be top shelf boomerangs.

Alpha: We’re made in China. Not well made. (heads upstairs)

Me: (calls up after) You were most definitely not made in China. You were made in the U.S. It means you’re too expensive and no one will buy you!

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.

The Old Tongue

(scene opens in mini van, sound of something rolling around)

Gamma: (in hypersensitive) What is that noise?!

Me: (focusing on road) Check the ash tray.

Gamma: (pause) Ash tray?

Me: (opens recessed drawer, reveals car adapter)

Gamma: Oh, its a stylus for the touch screen! (picks it up and touches end to screen)

Me: No, it’s a car charger. You plug it into the cigarette lighter and it charges your electronics.

Gamma: (longer pause) Cigarette lighter?

Me: Damnit. Okay – back when everyone and their mother used to smoke, there was this thing in the car that you would push in to turn on and it would heat up and then you could touch it to the end of your cigarette to light it. Now they use them as car outlets because it’s just an electrical contact point inside.

Gamma: (side eye) Oh. Okay. That was weird.

Me: The more I have to explain it to you, the weirder my childhood gets.

Time is Meaningless

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Me: (resigned) Okay, smalls, the school has encouraged twenty minutes a day on each of your two learning programs to make sure you’re all caught up for the fall. I don’t want any arguing. You can play video games after your work. Capisce?

Gamma/Delta: (in cheery chorus) Yes mom!

Gamma: Can we have snacks?

Me: Yes, as long as you work.

Gamma/Delta: (wailing) WE’VE BEEN WORKING FOREVER WHY AREN’T WE DONE!

Me: Its twenty minutes of work, not twenty minutes staring and the screen. You’ve done one question! Finish the rest of the questions and you’ll be done!

Gamma/Delta: (moar wailing) THE CLOCK SAYS WE’VE BEEN HERE FOR THIRTY MINUTES WHY WON’T YOU LET US PLAY VIDEO GAMES!?

Me: (trying not to cry) You’ve only done two questions! You have to do all the questions in the practice session!

(dramatic music, fade to black, cut to White Girl Wine Commercial)

A little proud

(scene opens in evening dinning room)

Me: (weary in front of laptop)

Beta: (walks in with dog) I found something on my walk.

Me: (looks confused) What’s is that?

Beta: (hands it over) There’s a lot of money it it. That’s enough to help me get an Oculus, but that’s stealing. So I though you and dad could get it back to the guy.

Me: (stunned, opens wallet to see cash and cards) Uh, yeah. We can do that. That was good of you, Beta. It’s important to get all the cards and I.D.s back, but sometimes that cash is all someone has to get them through the month. This could be a life saver.

Beta: (shrugs, pleased and embarrassed, leaves stage left)

Exhibit A

(scene opens in sunny dinning room)

Me: (tiredly gathering up pandemic homeschool supplies)

Beta: (laying on floor in sunbeam with doggo) Mom? Which do you love more, the kids or the dog.

Me: (sighs) Well, the dog doesn’t argue with me about every. single. thing. I. say. so maybe I love the dog best.

Beta: Except when he’s pulling on the leash or not sitting when you tell him or chewing on things he’s not supposed to…

Me: Hey Beta? You’re kinda proving my point.

Beta: …..damnit.

Helping the Revolution

(scene opens in cluttered dining room, Pandemic Homeschool in progress)

Carrot: Okay after you draw your picture, we have to write sentences.

Delta: (scribbles out a snowman) Done!

Carrot: Write “My snowman has long hair”

(twenty minute montage of this being attempted)

Delta: Done!

Carrot: (slightly frazzled) Okay, is your snowman a boy or girl? A he or she? Or is your snowman a they?

Delta: (thinks) My snowman is a they. Because snowmen can be boys or girls.

Carrot: Awesome. Write “They have long arms”.

(another twenty minute montage as Carrot sinks deeper into her coffee)

Delta: Mommy, this is my last one. Teacher says I only have to do two sentences, not three.

Carrot: (sigh) Honey, I am your teacher.