For Whom

(scene opens in cleaned parlor, new grandfather clock against the wall)

Beta: Now where did this clock come from?

Me: (dusting the wood gently) My grandparent’s. You probably never noticed it because Busia had the chimes off.

(clock strikes the half hour, Westminster Chimes ringing clear)

Beta: Ohmigod! Alpha! Come here! The clock got its ring from the clock in Five Nights at Freddy’s!

Me: (irked) No, the music comes a tower clock in England….

Beta: (interrupting hastily) Right, right. But that’s where we know the chimes from.

Me: (dismissive) Learn you some.

(multiple cut-scenes follow, shots through out the day of the chimes at the quarter hours, Alpha and Beta shouting out “Freddie clock!”)

Me: (completely unhinged) I SWEAR BY ALL THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW THAT THE NEXT ONE THAT CALLS THE WESTMINSTER CHIMES A “FREDDIE CLOCK” WILL BE SACRIFICED TO ERII SO HER REIGN MAY LAST FOREVER!

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Radio. Edit.

(scene opens in mini van, Kids Music playing on radio)

Radio: (kicks new song intro)
Me: (ears prick up) Uh, turn off the radio.
Husband: (driving) What?
Gamma: OH YEAH!
Me: Damnit, turn it off! (lunges for phone in holder, fumbles to the floor)
Husband: (confused) What song is it?
Me: How do you not know this song! (wrestles with seatbelt to hunt for phone)
Gamma: I LOVE THIS SONG!
Radio: TURN DOWN FOR WHAT!
Husband: Jebuz! (slaps off radio)
Me: (comes up with phone in hand)
Gamma: BRING BACK THE MUSIC!
Husband: How did you recognize that song? I thought we were playing kids Pandora.
Me: How did you not recognize that song? And we are? (close upon phone shows Kids Rock! Radio)
Gamma: I NEED THE MUSIC!

(Husband and Carrot exchange looks)

Husband: (cautiously turns the radio back on)
Radio: TURN DOWN FOR WHAT! (followed by lengthy instrumental)
Gamma: OH YEAH! TURN DOWN FOR WHAT!

(another exchange of looks)

Husband: We might be really bad parents.
Me: This is the strangest yet most wholesome radio edit ever.

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.

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…

Can’t Fool Me

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Beta: (warbling scales on baritone)
Me: (not looking up from embroidery frame) That second to last note is wrong.
Beta: (hotly) No its not.
Me: It is. Play it again.
Beta: (warbles, second to last note wrong) I didn’t hear anything wrong.
Me: What valve are you pushing? (looks up) Try pushing the middle one.
Beta: (plays scale through three times, none keeping the same octave all the way through)
Me: I’m waiting.
Beta: (wails) Mom! I’m playing it right! The teacher told me this is the fingering! Its just how my baritone plays!
Me: (sighs, gets up from couch, pulls up fingering chart for Bass Clef on laptop) Oh look. That’s the note you’re trying to play? (points to note) Looks like it’s middle valve.
Beta: (sullen, plays scale, all notes correct, stares at mother)
Me: Seriously. “This is just how my baritone plays?” You actually thought I’d fall for that? Remember this next time I’m not taking you seriously.
Beta: (goes back to playing scales with less warble)

Sing it loud

(scene opens in mini van)

Me: Is it just me, or is every station commercials?
Beta: (pressing radio buttons) Seems like it.
Me: (hears music) Stop. (turns up “Raspberry Beret”) This is a good song.
Beta: (skeptical look)
Me: Yeah, sorry, today you get to listen to oldies with your mom.
Beta: (skepticism intensifies)
Me: Yes, I did just die a little on the inside just saying that.

Do you even music?

(scene opens in the dining room)

Me: Okay, Beta, welcome to Tiger Mom Summer school. Time to practice scales! Remember, when you see these two signatures these two notes (points them out, clearly marked as #) are always sharp.
Beta: (slumped in chair, cradling baritone horn) How do you play a sharp?
Me: (looking scale sheet) It has the fingerings right there.
Beta: I don’t think I’ve ever played a sharp.
Me: (deep breathing) You’ve been in band two years. How have you not played a sharp?
Beta: (turning red, tears starting) I don’t know!
Me: Clearly your band teacher has not been putting you through your paces and I have failed you as Nightmare Tiger Mom. We’ll begin with your first scale and it looks like I’m learning Bass Clef with you.
Beta: (begins to weep, plays soggy scale, waits for death)
Me: (finds center, remains calm) It might be an embouchure problem. You’ll have to do lip-ups. Every day you’ll need to lay face down and pick yourself up with only your lips.
Beta: (laughs through his tears)
Me: Okay. Good. Now, again.

This again?

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Alpha: (sawing his way through Dona Nobis Pacem)
Me: No, you need to hold that note longer.
Alpha: (scowls, saws through it again)
Me: What’s the key signature?
Alpha: One sharp. That’s F#?
Me: Yes. Sounds like you’re playing all of them sharp.
Alpha: No I’m not! You don’t know how this song goes!
Me: Seriously. (Sings Dona Nobis Pacem perfect Catholic School acapella) Why do you think you’re ever going to win a music fight with me? I’m not even anywhere near the moderately competent musician my school ever released into the wild.
Alpha: (says nothing, goes back to sawing, only half the notes sharp)

Not a Rickroll

(scene opens at dinner table)

Beta: My music teacher told me that I needed to watch 4:33.
Me: (processing) What?
Beta: 4:33. Both he and the orchestra teacher were laughing about it. It’s a music video.
Me: Oh! Yes. (starts laughing) Of course we can watch it. (calls up the orchestral version of John Cage’s 4’33)

(minute goes by)

Gamma: When are they going to start playing?
Beta: For real. They’re just sitting there.

(second minute goes by)

Beta: I don’t get it. Why is this funny?
Gamma: They’re not playing.

(third minute goes by)

Gamma: This is boring! Where’s the music?!
Beta: (extreme suffering) I don’t get it! Tell me why this is so funny!
Me: (calls up the sheet music for 4’33)
Beta: (incredulous) Rests. The whole thing is rests. Why the hell would anyone write a piece of just rests!? And why wouldn’t anyone think that’s funny?
Me: (starts giggling)

The Music Speaks to Them

(scene opens in chaotic mudroom)

Me: Ohmigod, its going to be 50 today (starts stripping Gamma of arctic layers)
Alpha: Maaaam!
Me: (sighs) What?
Alpha: Beta turned the song into a gothic rock song!
Me: What? What song?
Beta: No I didn’t!
Alpha: He did!
Me: (exasperated) Beta, what song?
Beta: (summoning a voice from the gravel pit) Mary had a little Lamb! She cooked it until it was no more!
Me: Oh, that’s not gothic rock. Might be a little more Viking Death Metal. And that’s okay.
Alpha: (disappointed)
Beta: (preens)

Bell Curves

(scene opens in mini-van on ride home, math & physics discussion in progress)

Me: And that’s why I’m glad you decided you wanted to go to band camp. Music, language, and math all use the same part of the brain.
Beta: So I guess this means I’m really smart.
Me: (smirk) Kinda.
Beta: (offended) Kinda?!
Me: Intelligence isn’t a black/white issue of you’re either dumb or smart but more of a sliding scale. I think I might be moderately educated, but someone like Stephen Hawking probably thinks I’m a moron.
Beta: (dawning awareness) So you’re smarter than some people and some people are smarter than you! So Gamma is smarter than Delta, I’m smarter than Gamma, Alpha is smarter than me, you’re smarter than Alpha and dad is smarter than you!
Me: (narrow side eye)
Beta: Uh, reverse that?
Me: (stern lecture voice) Okay, now we talk about how it isn’t “age brings wisdom”, despite the fact I’m older that your father, but age brings the opportunity for more experience and experience brings wisdom.

Musical Inspiration

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, lunch in progress, Irish folk played offscreen)

Alpha: This music reminds me of something.
Me: (cutting tomatoes) Oh yeah?
Alpha: Yeah. Ornica of Time. Legend of Zelda.
Me: (processes that for a moment) It’s pronounced ocarina. Ocarina of Time.
Alpha: (incredulous) Really?! You played Legend of Zelda?!
Me: No, I played an ocarina.
Alpha: Those really exist!?