Boogey Down

(scene opens in mini-van)

Alpha: What day is it?

Me: September 21st.

Alpha: Happy Wind, Earth, Fire day.

Me: Wut? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alpha: The song! Here, I’ll play it. (picks up phone, connects it to van’s stereo)

(Carrot does a quick glance at the screen and sees Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”)

Me: OH! I remember this song. Yeah, okay. I get it now.

Alpha: (surprised) You know this song?

Me: Yeah. It was popular recently. It was on the Troll’s soundtrack.

Alpha: But that was like nine years ago.

Me: Honey, hate to break it to you, but its way older than that. I remember being a little kid in the car with my dad and singing it. Use the technology and see what year it came out.

(Alpha fiddles with his phone)

Alpha: Woah. It came out in….1978?

Me: Yes. For reference, your Uncle J was born that year. I’m six years older than this song.

Alpha: Wow. That’s really old music.

Me: (says nothing)

The mighty hunter returns.

(scene opens in bright summer parlor, Jethro Tull loud on the speakers)

Me: (at embroidery frame singing heartily) Ring out those solstice bells! Ring out….

Alpha: (off screen and with terror) MOM!

(Carrot leaps up and heads to basement, cut scene to top of the stairs)

(Alpha looks up helplessly, Epsilon noses something suspicious on the floor, manages a doggy smug)

Me: (exasperated) Alpha, its just poop. If you guys walked him more this wouldn’t…

Alpha: (tremulously) Mom. It’s not poop.

(Carrot descends stairs for better look)

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Please, oh god, don’t be a rat.

Carrot: Looks a little big to be a mouse, and there’s no tail. (gets closer, sighs gently) Oh honey, its a baby rabbit. A very baby rabbit.

Epsilon: (wags tail and pants smugly)

Alpha: (tearfully) Is it dead?

(Carrot picks up small animal, wet and slick and black. It kicks slightly)

Alpha: (jumps) It’s not dead!

Carrot: Well, this makes things a little more complicated.

Editor’s Note: Said baby appears to have been claimed. Given the cruelty of Mother Nature, we are continuing to believe that said baby was claimed by the mama.

Life Advice, Not Beer Commercial

(scene opens in frosty min-van)

Gamma: Mom, what’s 6th grade like?

Me: Oh. Well, my 6th grade was part of the Jr. High building and so we’d swap classrooms with 7th and 8th graders for different classes. Like for science or math…

Gamma: (interrupting) No, I mean the social part. Like popular kids and stuff.

Me: I hate to break it to you, but I wasn’t a popular kid.

Gamma: That much was obvious.

Me: Ouch, that hurts. (thinks) Okay, well, what’s the point of being popular?

Gamma: To have a lot of friends.

Me: Fair. But sometimes people are friends with you only because you’re popular. By whatever metric they’re using to scale that. If you stop being popular, they’ll find someone else to be friends with.

Gamma: Oh.

Me: In 7th grade, I realized I would never be the prettiest, or the smartest, or the tallest, strongest, fastest, most talented at anything. There would always be someone who was any or all of those things better than me. So I decided then and there to be the most interesting. If I was the most interesting person in the room, people would want to hang out with me. So. Read a lot of books. Listen to a lot of music –

Gamma: (interrupts) Got that covered.

Me: Learn a wide variety of strange and random skills that serve no real purpose save that you want to learn how to do it. Constantly make people amazed at your unexpected know-how on something. Trust me, it is way more fun to be interesting than it is to be popular. Popularity is fleeting. Interesting is forever.

(mini van pulls into drop off)

Me: Okay kids! (starts to sing) Have the best day ever!

Gamma: Please don’t.

Band Nerds Unite

(scene opens in dark mini van)

Me: So what time do I have to pick you up?

Beta: The game should be over by 8. Did you know some kids just hang out after school until the game starts? That’s over three hours of hanging out! That’s gotta be so boring!

Me: Not really. Not if you have all your friends there too. My old high school had activity busses running until 6:30 every night, so I just hung out with my friends every day until last call.

Beta: I suppose. Hey remember T, our old neighbor? Who was a percussionist? They used to hang out in the band room every day.

Me: Legit.

Beta: They used to get into so much trouble.

Me: Also legit.

Beta: They used to have a microwave in there. Not since they put a shoe in it.

(car pulls up to curb)

Me: Yeah, Band Kids are terrible. (Beta gets out of the car) Theater kids are the worst. (Beta pauses, looks back over his shoulder) I was both.

Beta: That explain so much.

Me: Get out. I’ll see you in two hours.

Scattered Knowledge

(scene opens in dark car, Pandora Radio playing a commercial for Dexter)

Alpha: (derisively) Who names a serial killer Dexter. That’s a ridiculous name.

Me: (absently) Dexter is the opposite of Sinister. Sinister is the left, Dexter is the right, which is why if you can use both hands it’s called ambidextrous. Dexter is a serial killer who only hunts serial killers. He’s on the right side of sinister.

Alpha: (long silence) And where on the internet did you get that?

Me: I didn’t. I came up with it on my own. But I bet someone else on the internet came up with it too.

Alpha: (mockingly) Oh, look I’m making up word meanings.

Me: Do it! Look it up! Look up what dexter means.

(long silence)

Me: Did you find it?

Alpha: No. I decided to believe you.

Me: (shocked) Oh now you decide to start listening to me?

Alpha: Well, you’re the one making things up, seems easier just to let you go on.

Me: You know how you get all this random knowledge? Read. Read a lot. Read tons. Get yourself some accidental knowledge. Then you, too, will also see the deeper hidden meanings of things.

Alpha: Or I could just sit here and laugh over memes showing a pumpkin carved into a troll face. (cut scene to shitty meme on phone)

Me: (gives up) Despair. You make me. I am full.

Sins of the Father

(scene opens in mini-van)

Me: Its your sister’s birthday today.

Beta: Its also Wolfenoot.

Me: It is. So, I heard of a lovely Wolfenoot tradition from a friend of mine, H the Bard*. You hide gifts around the house and play “Hungry Like the Wolf” on repeat until everyone finds a gift.

Beta: Sounds fun. We should do that.

Me: Except that your father hates Duran Duran.

Beta: Huh. I should take forever to find a gift then. Just put it under my chair and sit there going “I wonder where it could be?” while he stands in front of me going “It’s right there!”.

Me: (starts laughing) You’re a terrible child.

Beta: (pleased) I wonder where I get it from.

(*Names blurred out to protect the guilty, but not very well.)

Timing is Everything

(scene opens in dreary rainy dinning room. Carrot enters from kitchen, drops keys on table, hangs wet jacket on chair. Picks up lukewarm coffee. Taps laptop. AWOLNATION’s “Burn it Down” plays way too loud.)

Carrot: (sits, sighs, puts coffee mug to forehead)

(phone rings)

Carrot: Damnit. (turns off music, picks up phone) Hello?

Phone Voice: (anxious) Good morning, Ms Carrot. This is Gamma’s teacher. We had a close contact situation this morning and sending everyone home.

Carrot: (struggles to English) Sending everyone in the classroom home or sending everyone in the school home?

Phone Voice: Everyone who had close contact.

Carrot: (processes) Oh. Well. I suppose it’s a good thing she had her first vaccine shot last night. Grabbing my keys, be there in ten.

Phone Voice: (grateful) Thank you so much, Ms. Carrot.

(Carrot hangs up phone, puts down coffee, picks up keys, leaves jacket, exits through kitchen)

(fade to black, cut to car commercial)

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.

I guess he’s family now.

(flashback)

Me: So, do we call this one Epsilon?

Husband: (reprovingly) No. I want there to be some difference made between the kids and the dog.

Me: I’ve already called him Delta three times today.

Husband: (firmly) There needs to be a difference between the kids and the dog.

(cut-scene to evening dinning room)

Me: (settles self with hot drink, prepares to write, turns on Spotify)

Dog: (picks head up, side eyes) Woof.

Me: (looks over) What.

Dog: (deeper) Woof!

Me: Oh, I’m sorry, is my music bothering you? (shuts it off)

Dog: (more side eye, lays back down)

Me: Yeah, you’re Epsilon. I don’t know what Husband was thinking.

Soundtrack of our lives

(scene opens in pandemic parlor, music server up way too loud)

Jethro Tull: (blasting) War Child dance the days, and dance the nights away.

Me: (at embroidery frame, taking slow careful stitches)

Gamma: (comes running in, begins to dance, flailing in a mad frenzy of arms and legs)

Me: (pauses, watches over top of reading glasses)

Gamma: (sees her mother watching, flees the room)

Me: (to no one) Should have seen that coming.

(scene fades to black, music roars to silence)

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)