You Don’t Have to Include Me In Everything

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (at table, headphones on, music up, typing furiously on laptop)

Beta: Mom. Mom. Mom! MOM!

Me: (stumbles, fuming, removes headphones) What?

Beta: Know that Buddha Board thing?

Me: (sighs) The Zen Watercolor thing, yes. What about it?

Beta: Think we can talk to dad about it?

Me: (points to husband sitting next to Beta) Oh look. There he is. Go ahead.

Husband: (chokes on tea)

Me: (angrily slaps on headphones, continues to write)

Times Have Changed

(scene opens in mini-van, Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” playing)

Me: Oh, I like this one. Sounds like the club mix. (turns it up)

Alpha: (side eye) This is not an appropriate song. (listens) Especially not while I’m on my way to a Boys Scout event.

Me: (returns side eye, matches high vocal melody)

Alpha: With my mother in the car.

Me: (relents) Fine. (presses skip button, NIN’s “Head Like a Hole” plays) Oh, I like this one too. (turns it up to eleven)

Alpha: (listens for a moment, turns it back down to four)

Me: (singing) …than give you control!…Hey, I was listening to that.

Alpha: Why is your music so loud?

Me: When did you get so old?

Alpha: (rolls eyes, goes back to scrolling dank memes on his phone)

We Brought it on Ourselves

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Husband: (enters from kitchen) Hey, did you hear what Niece K wants to be when she grows up? (opens up laptop)

Me: (typing, doesn’t look up) I already made the reference and he didn’t get it.

(Husband plays Dentist Song from Little Shop of Horrors)

(Boys watch in WTF)

Alpha: What the hell was that?

Husband: A song from a movie.

Beta: What kind of movie has a song about a dentist hurting people?!

Husband: A movie about a plant. A talking plant. That eats people.

Beta: (pauses) It is not. You’re lying.

Me: He’s not. It was a play called Little Shop of Horror, they turned it into a movie. The the plant talks and is called Audrey Two.

Beta: (stares) You are both totally lying to me.

Me: (starts laughing) It does sound like something we’d lie about.

Husband: I wouldn’t believe me either.

Child of Darkness

(scene opens in mini-van, silently listening to the radio)

Me: Oh, this is one of my favorites. (turns up volume on Faith and the Muse’s “Cantus”

(cue all the children talking loudly and with no reason, just to make noise)

Me: (enraged, turns it up to eleven)

Delta: MOMMY! TOO LOUD! TURN IT OFF!

Me: (bitterly turns off the radio) Seriously guys. You were quiet for five damn songs in a row, and as soon as one I like plays you start running your damn mouths?

(cue three meaningless apologies)

Delta: Mommy, why you turn it up so loud?

Me: Because I really like that song. I like the way it makes me feel, not just the sound of it, but the way it reverberates in my bones. It makes my heart sing. It’s beautiful the way it soars.

Delta: Oh. Okay. Turn it up to one hundred, mommy.

Me: That’s my boy.

(“Cantus” roars, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

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!

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)