Know a Thing

(scene opens in cluttered basement)

Me: (standing amid several baskets of clean laundry, folding) Alpha, you remember you’re cooking dinner tonight for you merit badge?
Alpha: (On stairs) Yeah. I wish dad was here. To make sure I’m not going to blow up the house.
Me: (frowning) I know how to work the grill, son.
Alpha: (surprised) Really? You know how to grill?
Me: Of course. Believe it or not, I’m a fully actualized adult with an interesting back story and a wide range of useful skills.
Alpha: Do you know how to kill a cow?
Me: In theory. I haven’t had a chance to play test that.

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Can’t Handle the Technology

(scene opens in tossed dinning room)

Husband: (points into the kitchen) Did you see the Scout coolers came home? We have to do do patrol shopping for the weekend’s camp out.
Me: (considers beat up coolers) Alpha’s or Beta’s? They both need the credit.
Husband: Not sure. (turns to holler off screen) BETA!

(second later, stair pounding is heard, Beta arrives in the doorway between kitchen and dining room)

Husband: You’re doing the shopping for the camping trip?
Beta: (sarcastically) Uh, yeah.
Husband: (frowns, lets it go) Who do you have to go with?
Beta: (more sarcasm) Uh, my Patrol Buddy. But I don’t know when because I have no way to contact him.
Husband: What do you mean? You can call him.
Beta: (full on sassomancer, puts imaginary phone to his ear) Oh hey, Patrol Buddy, I’m calling you on my imaginary phone to plan the shopping. (pretends to drop invisible phone)

(three heart beats of silence)

Husband: Beta, back up two steps and tell me what’s hanging on the wall.
Beta: (does so, sulks) A phone.
Husband: I pay a monthly fee for that phone. It ensures everyone has access to a phone. Go get Patrol Buddy’s phone number and call him.
Beta: (sulks deeper) I don’t have the number. I didn’t get it because I didn’t have a cell phone to call him from.
Husband: Huh. I guess you’re shopping by yourself this week.

Enlistment

(scene opens in festive front parlor)

Me: (sipping coffee, reading laptop)
Beta: (storms into the room) We have a camp out this weekend?!?
Me: Hmm? (doesn’t look up)
Beta: Dad just told us we have to pack for a Boy Scout trip this weekend! No one told me we had a campout!
Me: First, they’ve been talking about it for weeks. Secondly, you missed the reminder last meeting because you were home catching up on a semester’s worth of homework you managed to forget.
Beta: (outraged) That’s just it! You can’t just sign me up for whatever camp out you want me to go on and then not tell me!
Me: (with satisfaction) On the contrary. I can. I did. You’re going. Don’t forget your wool socks.

Min-Maxing

(scene opens in foyer, back pack up-ended)

Gamma: MOM! MOM! Today is the last day! (waves brochure)
Me: (unfazed) Last day for what?
Gamma: (incredulous) Duh! The last day to sign me up!
Me: (absently) Don’t “duh” me. Sign you up for what? (takes brochure) This is for the Boy Scouts. You’re already a Girl Scout. Did you want to be both?
Gamma: (glows like a thousand suns) I could do both! I could go on twice as many adventures! I could be a sister to every scout!
Me: That’d be one way to level up faster than your brothers.

Placing bets

(scene opens up in dining room, adults obviously syncing up after long day)

Me: (sifting through a stack of paperwork) Oh, by the way, Girl Scout cookie sales start in a month.
Husband: Dear gods.
Me: Did you know that if Gamma sells 3,000 boxes of cookies, she and I get a trip to Disney World?
Husband: I don’t think I can eat that many Thin Mints.
Me: You’re not trying hard enough.

Where men are men

(scene opens at cluttered dining room table)

Gamma: Will you sign me up for Girl Scouts?
Me: You’re already a Girl Scout.
Beta: Scouts isn’t something you just sign up for, its something you do.
Gamma: I mean for sleep away camp.
Me: Oh, yes, I’ll sign you up for sleep-away camp, but that doesn’t happen for a few more months.
Beta: Don’t you have to go with her?
Me: No, because the Girl Scouts are more hard core than the Boy Scouts. Oh yeah, I said it.
Beta: (makes a face) Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are the same thing. Except we have the Cub Scouts.
Me: Exactly. We just have Girl Scouts. (makes definitive knife hand)
Beta: Girl Scouts, where girls do manly things. No, they do girlie things. In a manly way.
Me: (sips coffee approvingly)

Double Dippin’

(scene opens in dim basement)

Me: (abstractedly, playing Zuma) Gamma? Would you like to join Boy Scouts?
Gamma: (over the top shocked face)
Me: You don’t have to, I just wondered if you’d be interested. They’re letting girls join.
Gamma: (in heavy sarcasm) I’m the only girl in this house, what do you think?
Me: (ignores inappropriate sarcasm levels) I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking.
Gamma: I’m the only girl in this house! I want a hundred sisters! I’m obviously going to stay in Girl Scouts!
Me: (sigh) Okay. I was just wondering.
Gamma: (heartbeat) Wait! If I join Boy Scouts I can have a hundred brothers and a hundred sisters! Sign me up!
Me: (wonders if she has that much time and organizational ability)

Just eat it

(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)

(time passes)

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)

Aim for the head of the class

(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.

That doesn’t mean what you think it means

(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.

Apocalypse Scouts, troop #001

(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.

Questionable requirements

(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.