Alpha: Mom? Did you want to come see “The Creator” with me? It opens at my theater today.
Me: Never heard of it.
(Alpha calls up trailer on Carrot’s laptop. They both watch.)
Me: Wow. That looks pretty. I’m going to have to decline. I know I’m too emotionally compromised for that movie.
Alpha: Because of the kid?
Me: In part. That movie is going to be a “What does it mean to be human?” type of story. Where humans are the bad guys for their lack of self-awareness and willingness to kill anything they don’t understand while the machines understand the sanctity of life and self-sacrifice for the greater good and survival of the species. Its a common sci-fi theme. I know I won’t be able to handle it.
Alpha: (slightly disappointed and skeptical) Okay. If you’re sure, I’ll go by myself.
(Alpha returns home)
Me: (looks up to find a red-eyed despondent Alpha) You okay?
Alpha: (shakes head)
Me: (gently) Go upstairs and take a nice long hot shower and have yourself a good cry. You’ll feel better.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)