(scene opens in cluttered dining room)
Me: Alpha, Merit Badge University is tomorrow, you have to finish reading the source material.
Alpha: But its Friday!
Me: Remember when I wanted you to do these all last week and you argued with me? Sit.
Alpha: (plaintively) Can I at least have a snack?
Me: (fetches cup of orange jello and spoon, puts it on the table)
Alpha: (begins to read)
Me: (wanders over to check progress, find the orange jello neatly turned out onto the table, like a jiggly ziggurat) Zombie Jebuz, Alpha, you poured jello out onto my table?! Now it’s going to get all sticky and gross! Put it back….
Alpha: (leans forward and inhales the entire construct in one quick slurp)
Me: (Stunned silence, followed by helpless laughter) That had to be the most disgusting and the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Don’t do that again.
Alpha: (strains in mute eye watering humor, trying not to suffocate or spit jello all over the room)
(scene opens with maternal yelling over merit badge work)
Me: Alpha, your answer to “What life in America be like without Amendment # cannot be “We would not have that Amendment.” Treat this like a writing prompt. It’s all the same stuff you’re doing in school.
Alpha: (defiant tears) No we’re not!
Me: Then I guess you’re ahead of your class then.
Alpha: I don’t want to be ahead of my class! Then people think that you’re showing off how smart you are and that you’re all high and mighty and they don’t want to be friends with people who are all high and mighty.
Me: (sudden flash insight into America’s Culture of Dumb) Alpha, if your friends don’t like you because you’re smart, you need new better smarter friends. Don’t ever be proud about being dumb.
(scene opens with Saturday homework extravaganza)
Alpha: (reading merit badge book!) Mom! There are aliens! This amendment gives the government the ability to make aliens US citizens!
Me: Anyone not born in this country is considered “alien”. Mexicans are aliens, Russians are aliens, the Irish are aliens.
Alpha: But we’re all human.
Me: The world is very tribal. Everyone identifies themselves by country and/or religion. That’s why we have war. People are from the “wrong” country or the “wrong” religion.
Alpha: (downcast) Humans are stupid.
Me: (with infinite gentleness) We’re not stupid. We’re incredibly shortsighted.
(scene opens on floor of kitchen)
Me: (helps Gamma open a box) Look! It’s your Daisy starter kit! Your books and official vest!
Gamma: I’m a Girl Scout! I’m a Girl Scout! Oh mommy you love me so much! (hugs mother, puts on official blue vest) I’m so happy!
Me: Mommy will sew on the patches when the machines come back from the shop….
Gamma: Mommy! I need to go set a fire so I can get my firestarter badge!
Me: …that’s not exactly how this all works.
(scene opens over laptops)
Me: So, Alpha’s Citizen in the Community merit badge? One of the requirements is watching a movie about having a positive influence on one’s community. Would The 300 count?
Husband: American History X.
Me: Harsh. What about….uh…Wolverines?
Husband: You mean Red Dawn? I suppose that would work on a technicality.
(scene opens in basement, mother folding laundry)
Alpha: (coming down stairs) I have to do my reading homework and I finished Deathly Hallows.
Me: Cursed Child is on the sewing table. Listen, you need four books in six genres for your Reading Merit badge. Cursed Child is a play. If you document your reading, this will count for your badge.
Alpha: Okay. I’m getting a snack first.
Me: (goes upstairs with clean laundry to hear outrage) What’s wrong?
Alpha: This isn’t a story! This is a play! I wanted to read a real story!
Me: (sigh) It is a real story. You just have to pay careful attention at who’s doing the talking.
Memories from Camp:
Me: Beta! Camp! Adventure! Fun! What do we do first?!
Beta: Trading post?
Me: uh….after adventure! Fun! New experiences! What’s first!?
Beta: Trading post?
Me: Why the hell do you want to go to the trading post?
Beta: They have choco-tacos. I’ve never had one.
Me: ….clearly I have been remiss in my parenting duties. To the trading post.
Me: Beta, here’s a list of famous spiritual people, go to the library, ask the librarian for help, pick two biographies.
Me: Welcome back, which ones did you get?
Beta: The Dalai Lama!
Me: And what else?
Beta: What do you mean what else? I got two books on the Dalai Lama.
Me:…..Beta, you needed to pick two different people to read about for the scout pin.
Beta: Well you didn’t specify that!