(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.
(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!?
(scene opens in sewing room sweatshop, violin practice off screen)
Alpha: How was that? Am I all done?
Me: (puts down bodice) I think you could play a little bit longer, but it sounds good. I have to talk to you about something.
Alpha: (approaches hesitantly)
Me: Have you talked to Girlfriend recently?
Alpha: (wary brave face) Yeah. A couple of times.
Me: (tactfully lets it pass) We need to discuss the “Care and Feeding of the Girlfriend”. They’re not like houseplants where you talk to them once a month and everything is fine. Put your violin away then go upstairs and call her. You don’t have to plan anything, we’re probably busy this weekend, maybe you can meet at the park on Monday, but just tell her “Hey, thinking of you, wanted to see how things were going over your summer.”
Alpha: (tension ratchets down) You think so? Okay! (volin snaps into place, pounding upstairs offscreen)
Me: (licks finger, hash marks the air for a win)
(scene opens in toy strewn parlor, summer school work in progress)
Me: Okay, twenty minutes of baritone. Let’s do some scale work.
Beta: I only know four notes.
Me: (pause for mini-stroke) A year of band and you only know four notes? (flips through book, finds scale) Here – start at G and play the octave.
Beta: (obligatory suffering, starts playing)
Me: (listens to the audio equivalent of a bucket of legos dumped out) What the hell was that?
Beta: (defensively) I’m playing the scale.
Me: (takes baritone, runs the scale) The notes go in order, lowest tone to highest then you go back down. Not a grab bag of sounds. What day were you not paying attention where you missed this part of music theory? How is the sound of it not audible common sense?
Beta: (cue more suffering)
(scene opens in crowded mini-van, poppy music on the radio, when obligatory rap solo kicks in)
Husband: (listens for a moment, decides lyrics bending in questionable suggestive topics, changes station)
Gamma: (outraged) Why did you change the station, I was listening!
Husband: It didn’t speak to my soul.
Gamma: You don’t have a soul. The soul-eater doesn’t have a soul!
Me: She has a point.
Husband: (fist bumps daughter)
(scene opens with mom brushing daughter’s long wet hair)
Husband: Tell mommy how much you love daddy.
Gamma: (holds up pinched fingers)
Husband: Now show mommy how much you love her.
Gamma: (throws arms open wide)
Me: Sorry Husband.
Gamma: Mom, you win at love.
Me: Yes, some call me the gangster of love.
Gamma: (with heavy sarcasm) Really? You said that?
(scene opens with Team Middle Children out of control)
Me: (finishes buckling Delta into his seat, gets behind the wheel) Would you like to tell me what that’s all about?
Beta: (outraged) Gamma kept knocking on the window at me even though I told her to stop! Like she was doing it just to make me upset!
Gamma: (mocking laughter)
Me: She probably was. In life, there will always be people who will do things for the sole purpose of annoying the crap out of you. The only way to win is not to play.
Beta: (engages Epic Pout(tm))
Me: (turns on the Loop really loud and cruises the highway)
Me: Alpha, you’re playing that piece wrong. The note goes down, not up.
Alpha: No it doesn’t, I’m playing it right!
Me: Listen. (hums the music, pointing at each note in the piece)
Alpha: I’m playing it right! I’m telling you! You don’t know I’m not!
Me: (deep sigh) Alpha, I can read music.
Alpha: (long silence) Oh. (starts practicing again)
Scene opens with silence and contemplation of coffee. Time passes.
Beta: Could we have music?
Me: (turns on Pandora’s 80’s station, just loud enough to fill the silence)
Time passes. Catchy tune kicks on.
Beta: Turn it up? I like this one.
Me: (kicks it up)
Beta: (Proceeds to talk at the top of his lungs, about nothing, over the song he just requested)
Me: (turns off the music to hear the prattle)
Beta: (stops talking, apparently cowed)
Everyone sits in silence for five minutes before music is turned back on. Loud.
Beta: (Proceeds to pick up where he left off)
Cut scene to Elgin burning.