To Try Men’s Souls

(scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: So how was school? Any homework? (sips coffee)
Beta: Yeah, English. I have to find a word that describes me that rhymes with the sound of my name.
Me: (pause, confused) You have to find a descriptive word that rhymes with your name? Or one that starts with the same letter?
Beta: (instantly exasperated) Rhymes with my name!
Me: (pretty sure he’s wrong) There aren’t going to be any descriptive words that sound like your name, honey.
Beta: (falls apart, verge of tears) It has to rhyme with the “L” sound.
Me: (staying calm, grits out) Rhyme is the wrong word. Rhyme is “bat, cat, rat, prat”. Starting with the same letter is completely different. (Points to computer) Get on Thesaurus.com and look up a word.
Beta: (hysterical) But I don’t even know what word I’m looking for yet.
Me: (slams hands on table) Would you just trust my judgement for once and get on the computer!
Beta: (does so, stares at blanks screen for five minutes, quivering with tears)
Me: (sighs deeply, leans over to type)

(close up on screen shows word “argumentative”)

Me: There. (conversationally reads) Belligerent. Combative. Contrary. Litigious. Litigious is a good word. That starts with the letter “L”.
Beta: (bright and cheery) Yeah! It is a good word.
Me: (stares into the blackness that is her coffee)

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Magic of childhood

(scene opens on a front porch)

Gamma: I have a map, mommy! Look!
Me: (distracted glance, picking up a trike and screaming Delta) Lovely, honey.
Beta: (from inside) She can’t follow that map!
Gamma: I’m hunting for buried treasure! (pokes at X)
Me: Pirate treasure? (carries trike and Delta down the stairs to the sidewalk)
Beta: (comes to the door) That map is totally wrong!
Gamma: This is going to be an excellent adventure! It’s even written in my favorite pink color!
Me: I’m sure you’d have a great time. (paces slowly after Delta, walking his trike)
Gamma: Bye mom! (runs down the block)
Beta: (storms out of the house, yelling) Mom! You can’t let her follow that map! It’s totally wrong! She’ll get lost!
Me: For the sweet love of god, Beta, she’s not going to get lost.
Beta: (hysterical) Didn’t you see it? It was just a scribble on a page!
Me: (matching tone) Could you try to have an imagination? She’s not going to get lost! People call it “pretending” and she’s going to pretend to follow the map, run to the park, come right back and probably tell us how she sailed over the ocean and climbed a mountain and find pirate gold!
Beta: (undecided and pouting) There aren’t any mountai….
Me: Get back in the house before I slap some sense into you.

It’s just her attitude

(scene opens in a sound dampening cubical, the atmosphere weirdly and institutionally oppressive)

Gamma: (delightedly sits in her own soundproof booth, grinning through the viewing window)
Doc: (puts on her own headphones) Okay, Gamma, when you hear a beep, you raise your hand, okay?
Gamma: (nod behind the thick glass, gives a thumbs up)
Doc: (fiddles with buttons, dials, and levers, frown deepening) Gamma? Can you repeat my words? Airplane.
Gamma: (tinny voice over the speaker) No.
Doc: Cupcake.
Gamma: No.
Doc: Birthday. Book. Dog.
Gamma: No. No. No. I have a hearing problem, don’t you get it? It’s why I didn’t raise my hand when it beeped!
Doc: (turns off microphone, holds clipboard before face, starts to laugh) “Its why I didn’t raise my hand when it beeped!” What a card!
Me: (hides face in shame) I have two more at home just like her.
Doc: (looks at a confused Delta in the stroller, starts laughing harder) Her hearing is fine, just in case you were worried.

Well fix it, dear Henry

(scene opens at messy breakfast table, kids arguing)
Me: (coming to foggy awareness) What are you fighting about now?
Gamma: (mangles some words)
Beta: (talking over her) She took the crayon box upstairs to her room! Now how am I going to be able to my homework when all the pencils are in her room?
Me: (stroking out) Oh my god, Beta! How ever will we manage! There is no way any human could possibly ever climb all those stairs to the second floor for a pencil! No one could ever survive the arduous trek up a flight of stairs for a pencil! No way could you ever manage to bring one home from school! You’re going to fail school and forget how to write your name! We’re all going to die!
Beta: (furious, pounds up stairs, retrieves crayon box, grabs backpack and leaves for school)
Dela: (WTF look, staring after them)
Me: This is why mommy drinks.

Petty wars

Today’s Baby Carrots brings you the favorite rerun of Gamma sitting at the head of the table and declaring herself queen only to have Beta be outrageously offended by this whimsy and argue with her for an hour about how she’s not the queen of anything. New House Rule: Anytime two parties are arguing over complete and total petty crap, I beat both parties with a wooden spoon. Goddamn middle children, I tell you.