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?!?

Inner Conflict

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Me: (sitting at embroidery frame) Ready for school?

Beta: (struggling into jacket) Yeah. What day is it?

Me: Thursday. Do you have Robotics Club tonight?

Beta: (thinks) Yeah. I do. Y’know what? Today is not only Robotics Club, but Knitting Club and Anime club. All on the same day!

Me: That’s usually how it goes.

Beta: (deep dramatic sigh) It’s so hard being a nerd like me. (nods once, exits)

They know a thing, too.

(scene opens at cluttered table)

Alpha: I need help finding references on how alcohol affects the body.

Me: Look up Betty Ford Clinic.

Alpha: Says page is denied.

Me: The school laptop won’t let you look up Betty Ford Clinic? That’s absurd. You can look it up on my computer and use it as a reference.

Alpha: But she’ll think I’m making it up if we can’t pull it up on a school computer.

Me: Trust me, the teachers will know what the clinic is and who Betty Ford is.

Why I get nothing done

(scene opens in school office)

Me: (holding snack pack and water bottle)
School Admin: (enters with morose Gamma) And she broke her promise.
Me: (hands over gear) You weren’t doing your work?
Gamma: (sadly) No. It was hard.
Me: (sigh) We do things not because they’re easy, but because they’re hard.

(school staff collectively stare)

Gamma: That makes no sense.
Me: How else are you going to learn if you only do what you already know? Get back to class, behave yourself. Yo quiero tú estudias espańol.
Gamma: Sí, mama.

(cut scene, mother walks into the house, sees school binder on the floor, picks it up, sighs, swears, heads back to school)

Ich bin müde

(Scene opens in tossed dining room)

Me: (looking up from laptop) What are you doing?
Alpha: My German homework.
Me: On your Chromebook?
Alpha: I’m using Google Translate.
Me: (headdesk) Ohmigod. You’ve been doing all your homework with Google Translate?! I think we’ve just figured out why you’re getting full points on homework and failing every test!
Alpha: (explosively defensive) I’m an idiot when it comes to my tests. I don’t know shit and I don’t know why!
Me: Because if you don’t try to memorize the vocab during homework, you won’t remember it for the tests! This is what studying is! (points to the page) “ein Ei essen”. What does that mean?
Alpha: (sullen) Don’t know.
Me: (exhausted) Ei is egg and essen is food.
Alpha: (sinks lower in his chair)
Me: Remember when you threw down at the beginning of the year about how what a waste of time doing DuoLingo was because it wasn’t exactly what you were covering in class? I now officially know more German than you. Now I get to order flash cards so I can quiz you on vocab for an hour every night.
Alpha: (headdesk)
Me: Yes, I’m very excited about it too.

Opportunity strikes

(scene opens in tossed dinning room)

Alpha: (thinking himself clever) Mom, if people evolved from monkeys, why do we still have monkeys?
Me: (shock) Did you just seriously ask me that question?
Alpha: (bravado wavers a bit) Yeah.
Me: (anticipatory stretch, cracks knuckles) I have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Sit down while I learn you good. Its been a while since I used the Anthro degree. (picks up pencil to sketch out hominid family tree)

(time passes, multiple cut scenes follow, science happens)

Alpha: (whimpers)
Me: There. And that’s why, my little hairless ape, there are both monkeys and human beings. Before you decide this play this trick again, the same goes for dogs and wolves. Unless you’re dumb enough to think that pre-historic saber-toothed Bichon Frise roamed the earth hunting undersized mammoths.
Alpha: (slinks off to kitchen to do dishes)

Time, Time, Time

(scene opens in dim dinning room)

Alpha: (comes in foyer, shedding snow)
Me: (concerned) What are you doing home? Did they cancel track?
Alpha: No, I have homework.
Me: (appalled) ….you ditched track to do homework? You’ve missed all of last week’s practice already! How much do you have?
Alpha: I have to finish the late worksheet.
Me: That’s it? (temper rises) How long do you think that’s going to take you?
Alpha: (hesitantly) All night?
Me: You actually have no clue how much homework you have on any given night, which is amazing since you never bring homework home.
Alpha: (defensively sullen) I didn’t think I could run if I had homework.
Me: (shakes fists at the sky, shrieking) School. Practice. Homework. Dinner. Bed. There is time for all things under heaven! What kind of life do you think you’re going to live where you can clear your entire calendar for twenty minutes worth of work?
Alpha: (tearfully sullen) A life on the streets.
Me: (collects with difficulty) Even street people have a schedule in an effort to survive. Thank you for making homework a priority.

(Alpha exits, Mother screams silently and tears out hair)