Same Time Same Channel

(scene opens in early morning bedroom)

Me: (instantly awake, eyes fly open)

(seconds pass, Carrot nudges Husband repeatedly)

Husband: (sleepy) Huh?

Me: (carefully) I need you to reach up and turn on the light.

(Husband flails looking for the sconce above Carrot’s head)

Me: No! The one above you!

Husband: Oh. Right.

(light floods room, brown bat circling the ceiling, Husband and Carrot contemplate it)

Husband: We’re going to have to get our windows checked. Our bedroom door was closed.

Me: I can’t figure out how they know they can slither through a gap in a closed window but can’t figure out how to fly out an open one.

Not pulling punches.

(scene opens in harried dinning room, Carrot combing the hair of a suffering Delta)

Gamma: Mom, did you know there are people who think the earth is flat?

Me: (just not having it this morning) Yes. They’re stupid. There are some people in this world who – no matter the unarguable truth you put before them – will only believe what they want to believe. Although its possible some don’t, they just like picking fights and watching people get upset. They’re stupid too. Avoid them.

Delta: But mountains! The earth isn’t flat because mountains.

Me: Wrong kind of flat. It’s bumpy, but they think the earth isn’t shaped like a ball, but like a frisbee.

Gamma: Why do they think that?

Me: (aggravated, puts hands to head) People who believe conspiracy theories do so because its an issue of control. Or power. You can’t tell them what to do. You aren’t the boss of them. If you told them the sun set in the west, they’d argue it sets in the north just because they want to be right. Not correct. But right. Being right and being correct are two different things, and they’re so convinced of their super smarty better-than-you selves, that they cling to conspiracy lies just so they can lord it over people that “Ha ha, I know the truth and you don’t!” and give themselves a sense of self-worth.

Gamma: There’s a kid in my class who says the earth is flat.

Me: Don’t be friends with those kinds of people. Its just not worth it.

Gamm: Wait, there are other people like that?!

Me: Damn, girl, they’re everywhere. And they’re not worth your time.

Bail! Bail! Bail!

(scene opens in early morning dinning room, several bouquets of multi colored roses on the table)

Me: (reading email, drinking coffee)

Beta: (sees card, picks it up to read it, item drops out) Mom? What’s this?

Me: Your father gave that to me. We’ve been married twenty years today. That’s my golden watch.

Beta: (with relief) Oh good. I was hoping dad got this for you and wasn’t some toy of Delta’s laying around. You know that there’s no way he bought this by itself, right? That this was probably some Paw Patrol set and there’s a bunch of other Paw Patrol stuff just laying around the house somewhere.

Me: Going the extra mile for the joke is why I like your dad so much.

Beta: It kinda makes sense he’d give you a gold watch. I mean, you’re kinda retired. You don’t work.

Me: (mildly) I don’t work?

Beta: (recovering) You don’t work for money. Dad works for money and you kinda hang out here with him.

Me: (obviously laying a trap) Oh. I just hang out here and let dad do all the work.

Beta: (sweating) No! That’s not –

(footsteps off screen announces the arrival of Husband)

Husband: (blinking in the bright light of the dinning room) What are you doing up so early?

Me: (gets up, kisses husband) I was going to sneak out and get you a card, but I forgot that pandemic means nothing opens before 6 am any more. Beta loves the gold watch you got me. Said it made sense since I don’t work.

Husband: (gives Beta “you done messed up” look)

Beta: (dramatically flails arms)

Me: (sitting, picks up coffee) Also told me that you work, and I just kinda hang out.

Husband: (dramatically alarmed, looks at Beta) Run.

(Husband flees off stage, not pursued by a bear)

Beta: (mean mugs Carrot) That’s not what I meant! I know you work hard!

Me: Extra mile for the joke, honey. Have a good day at school.

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.

Regrets? I’ve had a few…

(scene opens in morning parlor)

Me: (comes downstairs to collective cheers of MOM!) Hey guys. Beta, come here.

(scene changes to kitchen)

Me: (opens fridge, hands Beta large styrofoam cup) I thought it was going to be a can or 1-liter, but it’s a root beer. I ordered cheese fries last night and got you a rootbeer ’cause the pizza places never have them. It might be flat. Sorry about that.

Beta: That’s okay, mom. I’ll –

Alpha: (suddenly appears) Did I hear someone say cheese fries?

Me: (hands Alpha a styrofoam box) Here’s the last of them. I couldn’t finish them all.

(Gamma and Delta run in, chanting “Cheese Fries!”)

Me: Christ! I’m not awake yet! (rubs face) Alpha, could you share a little of your fries? Like I’m sharing with you?

Alpha: (resigned) Sure.

(twenty minute montage of arguing over cheese fries and lamenting not enough cheese fries and wanting moar cheese fries)

Me: (head in hands over cooling coffee) For the love of… I should have thrown them out. Why do you make me regret the things I do for you guys?

Gamma: Because we like food.

Delta: Because I’m five.

Beta: (smugly slurping root beer) Wow, when did he get self-aware?

Me: He’s always been more self-aware than the rest of you. Maybe you guys could go somewhere and let me have my coffee in peace?

Lead Me Not Into

(scene opens in dark dinning room)

Gamma: (creeps in)

Me: (annoyed) It’s 5:30, what are you doing up?

Gamma: I’m starving.

Me: (sighs) You’re always starving. Get some breakfast.

(hour long montage of nine-year old babble to fill the silence, most of it so fast as to be intelligible)

Gamma: (for the third millionth time) Mom?

Me: (biting) What.

Gamma: What does “nuisance” mean?

(camera close up on Carrot, sweat dramatically dotting forehead, fade to black)

As long as we’re laughing

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Me: (holding hair tie between gritted teeth) Gamma, stop moving or brushing your hair will be more painful.
Gamma: (ridiculous suffering)
Beta: (stomping down the stairs, snuffling loudly)
Me: Beta, go upstairs and brush your teeth.
Beta: (sighs in busted, turns around to go back up, snuffling loudly)
Me: (calls after him) And blow your nose!
Husband: (looking around for his gear) And do a little dance.
Me: And make a little love!
Husband: Hey Beta! Get down tonight!
Beta: (off screen) I’m not talking to you guys!
Gamma: You guys make no sense.

Optimism at its finest

(scene opens in dawn-tinged bedroom)

Gamma: (comes running in)
Me: (opens eyes right before impact)
Gamma: I graduated! Today I go to first grade.
Me: (in amused pity) No, honey, the graduation ceremony was early. You have two more days of kindergarten.
Gamma: (face falls in shocked disappointment) But I’m a first grader now!
Me: (gently) You don’t go to first grade until August. You have two more days of kindergarten.
Gamma: (crushed) I was robbed. (slumps out of the room)
Husband: (mumbled into pillow) For someone who had such a hard year, that was a resolute show of spirit.
Me: Now she has all summer to get even more excited.

Discretion is key

(scene opens with mom in pjs chasing a son through the kitchen with a squirt bottle and a hair brush)

Beta: Mom!  You have to warn me before you do that!
Me: Hold still, I have to brush your hair. You look like you went through a threshing machine.
Beta: (suffers the attention of water and brushing)
Me: There. Now you look less of a mad scientist with your hair all over.
Beta: But I am a mad scientist.
Me: Well, yes, but the point is to not look like one so that way no one suspects you are up to something and can mad science in peace.

Daily Wisdom

(scene opens on dreary wet walk to school)
Beta: Why are you walking us to school?
Me: Because Gamma’s teacher thinks she’s a savage for running around the playground without her jacket and I now have to be there in the morning to prevent it. This is called the ripple effect.
Alpha: I thought it was the Butterfly Effect.
Me: Similar (lengthy conversation ensues on the topic). And that’s why I get bent out of shape when you get in trouble at school. Because then I get trouble with school.
Gamma: School is boring.
Me: I know and I’m sorry. It’s boring and it’s awful, but I want you to learn things I can’t teach you, it’ll be more fun when you’re older and can learn about things you’re actually interested in, and for now you’re legally required to be in school.
Beta: We could homeschool.
Me: I haven’t been able to teach you to brush your teeth every morning, what makes you think I could teach you Algebra?
Beta: Point.

Well fix it, dear Henry

(scene opens at messy breakfast table, kids arguing)
Me: (coming to foggy awareness) What are you fighting about now?
Gamma: (mangles some words)
Beta: (talking over her) She took the crayon box upstairs to her room! Now how am I going to be able to my homework when all the pencils are in her room?
Me: (stroking out) Oh my god, Beta! How ever will we manage! There is no way any human could possibly ever climb all those stairs to the second floor for a pencil! No one could ever survive the arduous trek up a flight of stairs for a pencil! No way could you ever manage to bring one home from school! You’re going to fail school and forget how to write your name! We’re all going to die!
Beta: (furious, pounds up stairs, retrieves crayon box, grabs backpack and leaves for school)
Delta: (WTF look, staring after them)
Me: This is why mommy drinks.

Dancing

Gamma: Turn on music so I can dance!
Me: (silently seethes, coffee time is quiet time) Okay.
(Pandora pulls up the Goth Station)
Beta: What song is this?
Me: It’s called “Kiss” it’s one of my favorites to dance to.
Beta: This isn’t dance music!
Me: You’d be surprised.