Time is Meaningless

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Me: (resigned) Okay, smalls, the school has encouraged twenty minutes a day on each of your two learning programs to make sure you’re all caught up for the fall. I don’t want any arguing. You can play video games after your work. Capisce?

Gamma/Delta: (in cheery chorus) Yes mom!

Gamma: Can we have snacks?

Me: Yes, as long as you work.

Gamma/Delta: (wailing) WE’VE BEEN WORKING FOREVER WHY AREN’T WE DONE!

Me: Its twenty minutes of work, not twenty minutes staring and the screen. You’ve done one question! Finish the rest of the questions and you’ll be done!

Gamma/Delta: (moar wailing) THE CLOCK SAYS WE’VE BEEN HERE FOR THIRTY MINUTES WHY WON’T YOU LET US PLAY VIDEO GAMES!?

Me: (trying not to cry) You’ve only done two questions! You have to do all the questions in the practice session!

(dramatic music, fade to black, cut to White Girl Wine Commercial)

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.

Checking In

(scene opens in basement)

Me: (quietly walking up behind Bigs, checking laptop screens for shenanigans) Are you both in class?

Both: (doesn’t move, wearing headphones) Yeah.

(shot Beta’s screen tiled with screens bearing kids’ names)

Beta: I’m in music class, the teacher is about to start

Me: (to Alpha) What about you?

(Alpha’s screen a single shot of an empty room)

Alpha: I’m watching my favorite YouTube. “Drying Paint”

Me: (doubles up laughing)

Beta: (to Alpha) Wow. You made her laugh.

Alpha: I didn’t just make her laugh. I got the wheeze out of her.

The Darkest Timeline

(scene opens in sun bright dinning room)

Me: (sees Bigs stumbling into the kitchen) Morning guys. I got a phone call last night that today is supposed to be a snow day.

Beta: (opens fridge, pauses) Supposed to be?

Me: (typing) If you were actually at school, it would be a snow day. But, since half the student body is on camera, everyone is on camera today.

Beta: (overcome with sadness, door drifts shut) So. There’s no more snow days?

Me: (eyes on laptop, typing) Apparently not. Get some breakfast and log in.

Beta: This is the worst.

Me: (pauses) Yeah. I’m sorry.

(cue sad dramatic music, fade to black)

Literature

(scene opens in Pandemic Homeschool)

Me: (miserable between two zoom meetings)

Delta: (fascinated by sing song story time)

Gamma: (talking to speech therapist) I have to read something out loud?

Me: (looks around quickly for suitable reading)

Gamma: (to screen) I have a copy of Terry Pratchett’s “The Hogfather” if that’s okay? (hold up book taken from stack of stuff)

Me: (dumbfounded)

Gamma: (begins to read “The Hogfather” outloud to teacher)

Me: (silently)

I feel seen

(scene opens in early morning kitchen)

Me: (muttering to self, running around first floor) Keys. Keys. Where are my keys? Wallet?

Husband: (from kitchen) THE BEST OF US!

Me: (finds keys, enters kitchen) What?

Husband: (sitting on stool, zipping up Delta’s jacket) Tell mom what you just said, Delta.

Delta: (bundled up, ready for school) You do the most work in the house.

Me: (surprised, serious) Yes. Thank you for noticing. Let’s get in the car.

Husband: Have a good day at school, Delta!

Distance Learning: K Edition

(scene opens at cluttered table)

Me: (bent over stale coffee gritting teeth) Again, Delta. Makes the “N” sound? List or Note?

Delta: (wailing) But I don’t know!

Me: Delta. What starts with the letter “N”? List or Note?

Delta: I don’t know!

Me: (surrenders, picks up toddler, tucks under arm, heads for stairs) Well, I guess you’re too tired to do your work. Nap time.

Delta: NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

Me: (stops) What letter does “No” start with?

Delta: THE LETTER N!

Me: (drops child) Is it the same sound as List or Note?

Delta: NOTE!

Me: (points to laptop) Go over there and push the right button so we can finish this level and move to the next one.

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)

First Impressions

(scene opens in bathroom, Carrot helping Delta wash hands)

Me: So, how was your first day of kindergarten? Did you have a good time?

Delta: (ambivalent) Yeah.

Me: Do you like your teacher?

Delta: Yeah. She’s already making my life hard.

Me: That’s nice. Only thirteen more years to go.

Bard From Another Timeline

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Alpha: (stares angrily into space)

Me: (notices this, takes off headphones) What can I help you with?

Alpha: (frustrated) I’m supposed to read these short stories and write something about culture and how it defines us. You can’t help me.

Me: (sips coffee) Tell me about one of the stories. Maybe I can help you break down some thoughts.

Alpha: You can’t!

Me: Try me.

Alpha: Well, one is about this girl who’s embarrassed to stand in front of a 14 year old man and her dad burps when he eats fish. See? You can’t help me.

Me: (sips more coffee) By any chance is the 14 yr old boy the son of the pastor? A boy she has a crush on? When they come over for dinner, she’s totally embarrassed by the way her Chinese family is eating, and about dies when her dad offers her fish cheeks as the best part of the meal?

Alpha: (stares)

Me: So, yeah, that story is called “Fish Cheeks” and I read it when I was in school. A hundred years ago.

Alpha: (stares louder)

Me: (slurps coffee) Wanna tell me about the other two?

Alpha: (pouts, gets up, collects headphones) I’m going to join the Zoom classroom and ask questions.

Price of Nerdity

(scene opens in gloomy dining room)

(montage cut scenes of four children not able to exist without active involvement of their mother)

Me: (slams laptop shut) THAT’S IT!

(collective silence)

Alpha: (too little too late) Guys, you have to leave mom alone, she’s taking a test.

Beta: (having missed the last ten memos) What kind of tests?

Me: I am trying to take my Starfleet exams and I just got my first “pass” and just ruined my grade point average.

Alpha: (smirks) Starfleet? Oh, you’re playing game.

Me: (dangerous) I’m not. I’m reading .pdfs and taking tests. I’ve been homeschooling you all day, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me go to school.

Beta: (dismissively) It’s not even real school. Why would anyone pretend to go school?

Me: (hotly) Because that is what geeks do! Geeks go to pretend schools from pretend realities to get pretend degrees in pretend subjects and then wear pretend alumni shirts for pretend college reunions and talk about their awesome pretend careers! (puts head in hands) I’ll never graduate with honors now.

Gamma: Why even learn all that stuff if its pretend?

Me: So my people will think I’m cool.

Bro, do you even school?

(scene opens in dinning room)

Me: Guys, I’m getting emails from teachers updating me on your assignments. Who’s teacher is Ms. W? Who has Ms. D? Anyone have Mr. G?

Kids: (collectively) Uh, I don’t recognize those names.

Me: Okay, they’re either Alpha or Beta’s ’cause I know Gamma and Delta’s.

Bigs: I dunno.

Me: (slogs through school web page directories) Okay Beta, you have Ms. W and Ms. D. Alpha – you have Mr. G.

Beta: Oh yeah, Ms. W is the English teacher. I forgot.

Alpha: Who is Mr. G? I don’t know a Mr. G.

Me: IT IS APRIL HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THE NAMES OF YOUR TEACHERS?!?