Can’t argue with that.

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)

Alpha: (hunting breakfast) Ha-HA! (pulls bag of leftover pizza from ‘fridge)

Me: (pointing) HA! Ha-HA!

Alpha: Ha-ha-ha-HA!

Me: HA! Hu-ha-ha-ha. HA!

Husband: You guys are dorks.

Alpha: (draws himself up) You married her. You made me.

Me: He does have a point.

Husband: I was cool once.

Parenting in the Time of Pandemic

Means yelling at your kids at the breakfast table that they’re going to be late for school. Which is in the parlor.

Means waking up your spouse early for IT support on the laptops to make sure the in-house security doesn’t block the 400 different learning platforms required for each child. Making them late for work. Which is in the basement.

Means the dog is pissed off that his walk is delayed because attendance is during his normal walk time. Hiding shoes so he doesn’t chew them to show his displeasure.

Wondering why the schools bothered to send home the Chromebooks for everyone if they didn’t bother to also send the headphones, sending you scrambling for the gaming headsets and hope they fit smaller noggins.

Being told by every school employee that attendance is mandatory by 8 in the posted zoom link. But the zoom link is never posted.

Listening to one of your children bitch they’re at the small table with an uncomfortable chair, but its the only place/arrangement where you can see their screen after finding out too late in 2020 they spent most of the school year in chat rooms playing clicky games.

Also listening to that same child perform for the camera and finding over-sold laughter a trigger for murderous inclinations.

Living with the fact that your kid refuses to brush their hair for the camera, but letting it go because they’re at least wearing their uniform shirt. Pandemic Hair(tm) on a small is weirdly adorable.

Realizing that your back-to-the-gym schedule has been shelved. Again. Wondering if you got your money’s worth in 2021 since you won’t be in 2022.

Coming to terms that you are now chained to the dinning room table as a distance learning room monitor for the duration of this shut down.

Considering catching Omicron just for a week in quarantine.

Not liking the way you lumber across your child’s live feed like a dumpy hausfrau sasquatch, knowing that parent sightings are a way of life now. The teacher is just glad you’re trying to take an active part in the proceedings.

Hating Pandemic Homeschool Zoom Gym Class with a passion. Trust me. They run around this house enough to qualify as passing a Presidential Fitness Test.

Wondering if your high schoolers are actually having class or if they’re so short on staff, most of it is just study hall for not having anyone to teach.

Realizing it took five days into the new year to totally trash your vague “Do Something With My Life” New Year’s resolution.

Wondering if reheating the same cup of coffee a dozen times makes it bitter. Or if its just you.

One Day More

(scene opens in cold dinning room)

Husband: (shuffles in) Listen up, I want you all to go check your school stuff and get ready for tomorrow. Fresh pens, clean clothes, Chromebooks charged. Go.

(children scatter, Carrot at laptop, become progressively more morose)

Gamma: (singing to herself, pounds down stairs) I’m going to see my friends tomorrow! I can hardly wait so see my friends! I missed them so much! I can hardly wait to go to school!

Me: You’re not.

Gamma: (stunned) What?

Me: You’re not. Just got an email from the school. Too many hot cases, so they’re going to be doing distance learning for a couple of weeks.

Gamma: (wails) But I want to go back to school!

Me: Trust me, baby, I want you to go back to school too.

Ending on a High Note

(scene opens in holiday wrecked dinning room, Carrot at table looking frazzled)

Husband: (enters from kitchen)

Me: (tense) We have to take Delta to the planitarium.

Husband: Why?

Delta: (grins) Mommy and I were talking about burn out.

Husband: (stares in WTF)

Me: (closes eyes, sighs) He was asking what “burn out” means and wanted to know why we haven’t invented limitless energy – his words, not mine – and I explained that everything burns out, even the sun which has already existed for millions of years and will burn out millions of years in the future. He’s now asking me astronomical questions I don’t have answers to.

Husband: (stirring tea) Huh.

Me: Y’know – I prepared for endless kid questions by learning why the sky is blue and as of yet, not a single one has asked that. But meanwhile, I’ve had to show them how to use a bookmark and how to work the pull-tab on a can.

Husband: (tries for stoicism, fails, begins to laugh)

Delta: You know, I can hear you mom. Why is the sky blue? (grin turns smug)

Me: (puts head down on desk)

Husband: I’ll put that down as a “Brought it on yourself.”

0/10 Not Recommend

(scene opens in detritus laden dinning room, Carrot sorting through a school year’s worth of papers)

Me: Gamma? Can you come here and fill out your memory book for the school year?

Gamma: (slinks to the table, picks up pen) No field trips. No cafeteria. No classrooms. No playground. Guess I’m done.

Me: Wait! Get back here! (dumps twenty half used notebooks in recycling) What’s on the next page?

Gamma: (looks at choices) Goals for next year.

(camera close up on scribble reading “See people”)

Gamma: Am I done?

Me: Go ahead. (sighs, picks up Delta’s book as Gamma flees stage left) Delta? What was your favorite game?

Delta: Nothing.

Me: On the playground?

Delta: Nothing

Me: Favorite story?

Delta: Nothing.

Me: Favorite color? Favorite teacher? Names of your friends?

Delta: Black. None. I don’t have any.

Me: Damn, kid. Do you like anything?

Delta: I like XBox.

Me: (writes that down) The parenting books did not have a chapter on this.

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.

Gotta stop it early

(scene opens in messy kitchen)

Gamma: (excited) Beta! I’ve been watch Minecraft YouTube! I know more Minecraft now!

Beta: (sweeping the floor and shitty about it) Oh yeah, how many blocks does it take…

Me: WE WILL NOT HAVE GATEKEEPING IN MY HOUSE!

Beta: (pouts)

Me: Hey Beta, do you know Dr. Who?

Beta: (pauses, lies badly) No.

Me: (knows his game) Try again. Hey, Beta, do you know Dr. Who?

Beta: Yeah.

Me: Oh yeah? Name them all.

Beta: (guilty grins)

Me: Oh, I guess you don’t know dick about Dr. Who. (gives the “understand?” look) That’s what it sounds like. Don’t. Do. It

(looks at the camera, breaks the fourth wall)

Me: Parents, don’t let your kids Gatekeep. It’s a dick move.

Know your limitations

(scene opens in tossed kitchen, two parents, dressed for cold, enter from two different doors)

Husband: (looks wife up and down in question)
Me: (towing smalls, removing coats) Parent Track meeting. Ended up being earlier than I thought.
Beta: (enter from third door, panicked, waving arms) Where have you been! No one was home! I was worried! (throws himself into mother’s arms)
Me: (amusedly perplexed) I’m sorry, honey. I would have left a note, but I didn’t think of it. I thought you’d come in, see no one was here and make yourself a snack and play video games.
Beta: (hotly) I didn’t know where anyone was! I had to be responsible!
Me: But you only had to look after yourself.
Beta: Exactly! I can’t take care of myself! You know this! How could you do this to me? (stomps off to the basement)

Moral Support

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (head in hands, giving up)
Husband: Is there anything I can do to make it better?
Me: (morose) No. Nothing went right this week and I’m raising wild and incompetent meat puppets.
Husband: (sits down along side, wraps arms around wife) You’re a good mom.
Me: (pathetically) Really?
Husband: Not the best mom.
Me: Seriously?
Husband: (going for broke) Probably not even in the global top ten. Realistically, above average. But you’re a good mom. I mean, technically your only job is to keep them alive! So far all that hard work is really paying off, despite their best attempts otherwise.
Me: (weak laugh)