Hard to tell

(scene opens at zoo. Mom and child with activity backpack)

Gamma: Look at the bunnies! I’m a wild animal too, mama.

Me: (without inflection) Really. I had no idea. Okay Gamma, station four. (hands over ziplock bag) What is our activity?

Gamma: (pulls out laminated cards) Domestic Animals. Am I a domestic animal, mama?

Me: (hesitates) No. I’m pretty sure you’re not.

Gamma: (continues to read) Domestic animals are animals that can’t take care of themselves, they do not know how to find food or shelter in the wild. See, mama? I’m totally a domestic animal.

Me: (resigned) I stand corrected.

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All knowledge is worth having

(scene opens at shady and tree heavy play ground, Carrot & Beta on park bench looking at phone)

Husband: (approaching) What are you looking at?

Me: Doing some Boy Scout learnin’. Beta, what’s that? (points to tree)

Beta: (pleased) Black walnut.

Me: Is it edible?

Beta: (more pleased) Yes. You harvest them in September and can wack them through a hole in a piece of plywood with a hammer to rip the green fleshy part off.

Me: Did we find any?

Beta: (holds up four dirty whole walnuts) Over there. Under the oak tree.

Gamma: (runs over at top speed) Let me see! Let me see the nuts!

Beta: (hunches protectively over his find, scowls) No. Go away. These are my nuts!

Gamma: Let me look! I just want to feel your nuts!

Me: (with heroic nonchalance) Beta, let Gamma feel your nuts.

Beta: (turns with comically horrified look on his face, dumps the walnuts into Gamma’s lap, runs off stage left)

Gamma: (picks up the walnuts) Beta’s nuts are all rough and dirty.

Me: (maintaining composure) They are.

Gamma: (thinks for a moment) What are the other words for nuts?

Me: It depends on the type of nut, I guess. There are walnuts and peanuts and chestnuts and…

Gamma: (interrupts) No. (brow furrows, looking for the right words, said slowly and carefully) What are the other meanings of the word nut?

Me: Oh. (considers options, throws caution) Nut is the slang term for testicle.

Gamma: (makes same face as Beta, jumps up and says loudly) Beta! I have your nuts and I’m going to bury your nuts where you can’t find them and then you won’t have any nuts! (runs off stage right)

Husband: (sits in spot Gamma vacated) Proud of yourself?

Me: Immensely. (watches Beta outrage flail in the distance) You disapprove?

Husband: (shrugs) You’re the one going to be fielding phone calls from the school.

Into the Wild

(scene opens in packed camp Trading Post, girls filling arms with last minute camp swag)

Me: (standing patiently in line) Did you have a fun week? Glad for it to be over?

Gamma: How long until I can be a CIT?

Me: Oh. That’s high school level Girl Scouts. (starts to stroke daughter’s hair) You’ll have to wa… Gamma, did you shower at all this week?

(mom behind in line with similarly grungy daughter starts laughing)

Gamma: (sighs) Yes, mama.

Me: (horrified amusement) Your hair is…crunchy.

Gamma: (eye roll and sass) Mom. It’s camp.

(more laughter from behind)

Me: (concedes point) I was probably flexible with my shower schedule at camp too.

Away She Goes

(scene opens in wooded clearing, small cabins in semi circle)

Me: (hugging daughter, taking photos)

Gamma: (brightly) Okay! Bye mom! See you in a week!

(Husband and Carrot wave excitedly, turn to leave)

GS Counselor: (perplexed) You’re leaving already?

Husband: We’ve been dismissed.

GS Counselor: ….Oh. (proceeds to chat with Gamma as parents move away)

Alpha: (falls in with Delta on his shoulders) That went a lot easier than I expected. I was expecting tears or something.

Husband: I don’t know why you’d think that.

Me: This is her second year of resident camp and she’s only going into third grade. You and your brother didn’t go to resident camp without a parent until going into sixth.

Husband: She’s the bravest kid we’ve got.

Alpha: (makes sound of one pwned)

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.

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)