What Are You Even

(scene opens in dim foyar)

Gamma: (skipping downstairs) Mom! I lost a tooth!

Me: (frazzled) Well, give it to me so I can put it in the Tooth Fairy Box.

Gamma: (stops, startled) I don’t know where it is.

Me: What do you mean? Go back upstairs and get it.

Gamma: I woke up without it.

Me: You lost it in your sleep?

Gamma: Yeah, I think I swallowed it.

Me: Seriously. (suspicious) Did you go to bed with the tooth and wake up without it?

Gamma: (confused) No, I didn’t have it before bed last night. Maybe it’s down here.

Me: (headache starts) So, you wiggled it and it fell out last night before you went to bed. Do you remember where you were when it fell out?

Gamma: I might have been at school.

Me: Why do you only loose teeth at school? Did you drop it? Did you leave it in your desk?

Gamma: (vacantly) I don’t know. I think it just fell out.

Me: (flatly) It just fell out. It fell out of your mouth without you noticing.

Gamma: Maybe?

Me: Or was there suddenly this weird thing in your mouth and you just swallowed it?

Gamma: (disinterested) I might have done that.

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Child, I am seriously starting to doubt your intellectual capacity.

Me: (out loud) Well, I can’t help you then. Get your shoes on and let’s get to school.

Gamma: (recovered) I can just write a note to the Tooth Fairy explaining.

Me: You write a lot of notes to the Tooth Fairy.

Life Lessons

(montage of setting the Bigs to tasks, finding them half finished, calling them back)

Me: (standing in dinning room, pointing) So. Those dinning room chairs you were going to put back around the table after you vaccum?

(cut to one chair at table, rest in the parlor)

Beta: (sheepishly) Oh. Yeah right.

Me: You guys need to be boomerangs. Come back to me. Not arrows and stick where you land.

Alpha: We’re Wal*Mart boomerangs.

Me: No. Strive to be top shelf boomerangs.

Alpha: We’re made in China. Not well made. (heads upstairs)

Me: (calls up after) You were most definitely not made in China. You were made in the U.S. It means you’re too expensive and no one will buy you!

Why Are People

(scene opens in mini van, a rare silence)

Gamma: (staring out the window) Mom, what was that building?

Me: (mental sigh) A strip club. Its a place where men pay money to watch women take off their clothes and drink alcohol.

Gamma: (shocked) Why are there places like that?

Me: Because men will pay money to watch women take off their clothes and drink alcohol.

Gamma: (moar shocked) Why do women work there?

Me: Uh… because money. Its the only job they can get for whatever reason.

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Don’t kink shame, Carrot!

Me: (out loud) And I suppose it’s possible that some enjoy it.

Gamma: (weary) I’m sorry I asked.

(awkward silence, fade to black)

A Day of Service

(scene opens in mini van drive through)

Me: (hands over McDonald’s reward) Here you go. And thank you again for helping out and mowing lawns.

Beta: No problem. Nuggies! (stuffs one in his mouth)

Me: (starts to drive) I’m serious. If more people were willing to be that helpful and generous to the people around them, the world would be a better place. At the very least they’d all be wearing their goddam masks.

Beta: (slurps frozen Coke) Y’know — if everyone in the world was that helpful and generous, there’d be no objective way to determine who was a good person.

Me: (extreme close up, over dramatic side eye, long pause)

Beta: (mouth full of food) I mean right? It’d just be normal.

Me: What website did you get that off of?

Beta: Just though it now.

Me: (falls silent, continues to drive)

Mysteries of the Universe

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (to husband) I found one of Gamma’s stories in my Google Docs. I don’t know if it got emailed to me or what.

Husband: Yeah?

Me: It was amazingly complicated. There’s a deep and wide ranging mind in that child. Alarmingly and creatively intelligent.

Husband: I know. I’ve read some of her stuff.

Me: (looks out window, Gamma running around in circles talking loudly to herself and swinging a scooter by the handle) Y’know how some of our other friends have really smart and clever and deep children?

Husband: (warily) Yeah?

Me: How come they’re all self-possessed well spoken polite little mini-adults and ours is swathed in chaos?

Husband: Swaddled.

Me: Swathed. Swaddled. Difference?

Husband: Swaddled is comforting.

Me: (thinks) Fair.

Ouch

(scene opens in mini van, pulling away from kindergarten pick up line)

Delta: Is today Mother’s Day?

Me: No, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

Delta: Mother’s Day is only one day?

Me: Yes. Only one day.

Delta. Only one day a year?

Me: Yes. Mother’s Day is only one day a year.

Delta: So only one day a year you have a life?

Me: (quiet, merges into traffic) Yes. Thanks for pointing that out, Delta.

Delta. (happily) You’re welcome, mommy!

Return Serve

(scene opens in sun drenched kitchen)

Beta: (throws up hands) Welcome to the one year anniversary of the two week lock down!

Me: (checks FitBit) Not yet. You have a couple of days. Unfortunately. (refreshes coffee)

Beta: Why unfortunately?

Me: We’ve been inside so long, I’ve forgotten how to people

Beta: (crouches down to scritch Doggo) Did you ever know how to people?

Me: (uses foot to knock him over) You’re a jerk. (starts to laugh)

Beta: (also laughs) I learned it from my parents!

Me: Not wrong. Still a jerk.

Exhibit A

(scene opens in sunny dinning room)

Me: (tiredly gathering up pandemic homeschool supplies)

Beta: (laying on floor in sunbeam with doggo) Mom? Which do you love more, the kids or the dog.

Me: (sighs) Well, the dog doesn’t argue with me about every. single. thing. I. say. so maybe I love the dog best.

Beta: Except when he’s pulling on the leash or not sitting when you tell him or chewing on things he’s not supposed to…

Me: Hey Beta? You’re kinda proving my point.

Beta: …..damnit.

The children are our future.

(scene opens in brightly lit kitchen)

Husband: (preparing to cook dinner)

Carrot: (staying out of his way) I was reading this moderately alarming article about how Covid has tanked the birthrate. Add that to the Covid death rate, that’s a significant population drop. There’s going to be some massive demographic shifts fairly soon.

Husband: Now stop to think all the Millenials that can’t afford to buy houses and start families and that Gen Z isn’t going to be able to do that either.

Carrot: A faster and bigger drop. (thinks) Y’know – even though we have four kids, its very possible we won’t have any grandchildren.

Husband: (washing a dish) Oh, I don’t know about that. Alpha is good looking and prone to making bad decisions.

Carrot: (with adoration) Awww. Just like his father!

Husband: (turns, glares, kisses Carrot’s forehead) Nice.

Carrot: I know.

Tough Crowd

(scene opens in dining room)

Delta: (watching Carrot light Advent candles) What are those for mommy?

Me: Each week we light one to remind ourselves what’s important; Peace, Hope, Love…

Husband: (interrupting from foyer) Profits for the candle manufacturers.

Me: ….and Joy. Which your father is.

Delta: No, he is pain and despair.

Me: Well then.

Husband: I heard that.

The kid gets it.

(scene opens in dim dining room, pandemic homeschool in session)

Delta: (climbing into his chair) Mommy, I was made for two things.

Me: (clutching coffee mug) Oh yeah?

Delta: Yeah. Eating chocolate and playing games!

Me: Those are good things.

Delta: And loving you! (big cheese five year old grin)

Me: (sound of heart melting) That’s three things.

Delta: Yeah. I made a mistake.

So Not Prepared

(scene opens in mini-van in the rain)

Delta: Mommy? Are you going to tell me a secret?

Me: What? (laughs in mom) No. I don’t have any secrets.

Delta: (incredulous) You’re not going to tell me secrets about love?

Me: What?! (scrambles) Uh…you can’t make people love you.

Delta: (dismissively) I already knew that. I want a different secret.

Me: (panicky) I don’t know how to explain this to a five year old. Uh…well…someone’s love won’t complete you. You have to be a whole person all by yourself.

Delta: That’s a good secret.

(ten minutes drive in silence, split screen between confused Carrot and contemplative Delta)

(pulls up in front of school, Carrot hops out to unbuckle Delta)

Dela: People forget the secrets their family tells them. I sometimes forget.

Me: (uneasy) It’s okay to forget sometimes.

Teacher: (walks up with digital thermometer for daily check) Looks like you’re good to go, buddy! Ready for a new day of kindergarden?

Delta: No. (walks slowly inside)

Me: (drives home in WTF)