Power of Fashion

(scene opens in mini-van)

Me: Thank you for coming with me to pick out a graduation outfit.
Alpha: (simmering) Why can’t I just wear a nice shirt and my black pants?
Me: (tiredly) Because this is a graduation. It is a formal event. You need something better than the black polo grandma got you for the party.
Alpha: But no one ever wears a suit!
Me: (hotly) They do! You just ignore them in favor of pointing out all the kids who are going to show up in their jeans and Jordans. Tell you what – if you want to wear a black suit and a black tie, you can do that. It doesn’t have to be goofy colors.
Alpha: (softens) Like John Wick?
Me: (hopeful) Exactly like John Wick.
Alpha: (mulling) That sounds good.
Me: (performs mental Victorious Picard)

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Too Much Creativity

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Gamma: (fresh from school) Mom! I have to make a machine for school tomorrow!
Me: Wha..? Why?
Gamma: I…(self aware pause) I didn’t finish it in class. Maybe draw it?
Me: Do you have to make or draw?
Gamma: (mental processing) …both? I need a machine that makes my life easier with snacks.
Me: (can’t even) With what? Snacks?
Gamma: Whatever we have in the house. Its a machine about snacks.

(scene cuts to cluttered dinning room)

Me: There. You have styrofoam cups, bendy straws, tape, scissors, and this aluminum tray you brought home from school. Have at.
Gamma: Whee!(proceeds to cut everything into confetti)
Me: Uh, what are you making?
Gamma: I’m just cutting.
Me: What about your snack machine?!?
Gamma: (surveys carnage) Oh. I forgot.

This again?

(scene opens in cluttered parlor)

Alpha: (sawing his way through Dona Nobis Pacem)
Me: No, you need to hold that note longer.
Alpha: (scowls, saws through it again)
Me: What’s the key signature?
Alpha: One sharp. That’s F#?
Me: Yes. Sounds like you’re playing all of them sharp.
Alpha: No I’m not! You don’t know how this song goes!
Me: Seriously. (Sings Dona Nobis Pacem perfect Catholic School acapella) Why do you think you’re ever going to win a music fight with me? I’m not even anywhere near the moderately competent musician my school ever released into the wild.
Alpha: (says nothing, goes back to sawing, only half the notes sharp)

Not a Rickroll

(scene opens at dinner table)

Beta: My music teacher told me that I needed to watch 4:33.
Me: (processing) What?
Beta: 4:33. Both he and the orchestra teacher were laughing about it. It’s a music video.
Me: Oh! Yes. (starts laughing) Of course we can watch it. (calls up the orchestral version of John Cage’s 4’33)

(minute goes by)

Gamma: When are they going to start playing?
Beta: For real. They’re just sitting there.

(second minute goes by)

Beta: I don’t get it. Why is this funny?
Gamma: They’re not playing.

(third minute goes by)

Gamma: This is boring! Where’s the music?!
Beta: (extreme suffering) I don’t get it! Tell me why this is so funny!
Me: (calls up the sheet music for 4’33)
Beta: (incredulous) Rests. The whole thing is rests. Why the hell would anyone write a piece of just rests!? And why wouldn’t anyone think that’s funny?
Me: (starts giggling)

Basic Math

(scene opens in afternoon dining room, argument in progress)

Me: (exasperated) You’re racking up a list of missing assignments! Where are they? Are you eating them?!
Alpha: (sullen, stomps out of the room, comes back with piles of papers) Here they are!
Me: (shocked) You had them this whole time? Why didn’t you turn them in?!
Alpha: (darkly) I couldn’t figure out these problems. (points to various problems on different pages)
Me: (trouble processing) So…you couldn’t figure out a single problem out of twelve and so you didn’t turn it in?
Alpha: (defensive) Yeah.
Me: (voice from the grave) So, instead of getting five 80% homework assignments turned in, you opted for five zeros.

(long pause)

Alpha: Yeah. I’m doing them all right now, aren’t I?
Me: (resigned) Honestly, I don’t care if you do them or not, but you’re turning in all these worksheets in tomorrow and you’ll be lucky to get 30% on them for being late. But better than zeros. Goddamnit, Alpha, some is better than none when talking about grades and money.

I Feel Your Pain

(scene opens in oddly clean kitchen)

Me: (wearily stirring dinner)
Gamma: (perpetual whine) Moooooom! I’m so bored! What day is it?
Me: (deep sigh) Thursday. Same day as when I told you an hour ago.
Gamma: (whining intensifies) Thursday?! How much longer is Spring Break?!
Me: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. You have three days left. You go back on Monday.
Gamma: Three days?! (collapses to floor dramatically) I’ll never make it, I’m so bored. I wish I could go back to school today.
Me: Me too, honey. Me too.

Follow Up

(scene opens in foyar)

Me: (handing Alpha his scarf) Try to have a good day at school. Remember, if anyone asks you if you have any wishes today, go for something mundane like “can fly” or “turn invisible”.
Alpha: That’s boring.
Me: I know. But it won’t freak your teachers out. Maybe say “I want to be the Silver Surfer and fly through space” or “I want a TARDIS so I can travel time and space.”
Alpha: (deep sigh) I don’t want to have to spend my life saving the world.
Me: It’d be worth having a TARDIS. Anything more esoteric and your teachers aren’t going to understand.
Alpha: No one understands me.
Me: I know honey. Being weird is hard.

Threat Assessment Level

(scene opens in kitchen, ringing phone)

Me: Please don’t be Alpha’s school. Please don’t be Alpha’s School.

(close up on caller ID, Alpha’s school)

Me: (resigned) Hello?
Case Worker: (prim judgemental voice) Hello, it’s Alpha’s case worker. His teacher sent him to me for inappropriateness. I have him on speaker phone. He was supposed write down his three wishes as part of a class project. Go ahead and read them, Alpha.
Alpha: Hi mom.
Me: (worried) Go ahead, Alpha.
Alpha: My three wishes: Control over all sentient life on the planet, Fallout 4, to be able to control Death.
Me: (starts laughing) Well, I understand what you were going for in context, but perhaps you didn’t explain yourself well enough for the teacher. You need to work on your literary expression.
Alpha: I tried to. I tried to explain that there’s so much bad in the world that wouldn’t it be good to be able to summon Death and just have the bad guys poof into ash?
Me: Probably, but until you can use more expressive language in explaining your thoughts and ideas, you’re going to get in trouble for them.
Case Worker: (much different tone) Well, okay Ms. Carrot, I just thought you should know what’s going on in class and I get what Alpha’s trying to say. Just so many crazy things going on in the world right now, I just thought you should be kept informed. I’ll send him back to class.
Me: Thank you.
Alpha: Bye mom!
Me: Behave yourself.

Maybe if you just listened to me

(scene opens along dark suburban sidewalk)

Me: So what do you think of your potential Jr. High? Excited?
Beta: Yes!
Me: So why did you sign up for AVID as an elective? I’m glad you want study skills, but its geared for kids who’ll probably be the first generation of their family into college.
Beta: Exactly.
Me: (considers) …Daddy and I both have college degrees.
Beta: (astounded) You do?!? I didn’t know that!
Me: Clearly I have failed to impress upon you that I might know a thing or two.

Motivation

(scene opens in rarely clean kitchen)

Me: (sipping coffee) I’ve noticed you’ve been eating in the cafeteria more.
Beta: (proudly) Yes. You’ve been wanting me to try new things. Aren’t you happy?
Me: (pointedly sipping again) I’ve noticed that your willingness to try new foods coincides neatly with you being responsible for making your own lunches.
Beta: (defensively) I’m trying new foods!
Me: I’m happy you’re trying new foods. I’m a little put out this adventure is rooted entirely in laziness.

Inconsistent Application

(scene opens in dim foyer)

Me: Alpha, why are you wearing four shirts under your uniform?
Alpha: Because I might get cold. Dress in layers.
Me: Sweet zombie Jebuz. Your father told you dress in layers for camping, not for when we’re going to be indoors all the time. Take off those extra shirts!
Alpha: (steps behind door to de-layer, returns and hands mother shirts)
Me: Now get on your jackets and go to school.

(boys put on flimsy fleeces, girl puts on puffiest ski coat)

Me: (exhausted by stupidity) Alpha, why – if you’re cold enough to wear four shirts indoors where the heat is on – are you putting on the thinnest jacket you have to brave the cold rain? Don’t you think that – if it is that cold out – you might want a warmer jacket?
Alpha: (sullen) Maybe. (storms off into the freezing rain)
Beta: (conversationally) It is cold out. Maybe if I had the gloves dad took, I could wear those and be warm.
Me: (closes eyes) You mean the gloves you were wearing all day on Saturday when it was warm and sunny and you were complaining of being too hot and dad took them from you because you were being dumb?
Beta: (thinks about it) Yeah. I guess so. (steps out into the freezing rain in too small fleece)

Lingual Angst

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (types word into Google translate for correct pronunciation) Okay Gamma, first spelling word: Calabaza.
Gamma: (scribbles it down, shows mother)
Me: ….Couv? Try again (hands back paper) Ca-la-ba-za.
Gamma: (tries again)
Me: …Trqb? (temper rising) No. Try. Again. Ca. La. Ba. Za.
Gamma: (hurriedly marks paper)
Me: CLBZ? Do you not hear vowels?! What’s a vowel?
Gamma: (nervous) Person, place, or thing?
Me: (flips table) Go to your room. I have to write a letter to your teacher.