A Whole New World

(scene opens in busy mall. Carrot walking with purpose, Alpha and Beta trotting along behind)

Me: (stops in front of Hot Topic) Okay, here we are. Go in there, look for your cool edgy hoodies. I’ll be back in five minutes.

Alpha/Beta: Got it!

(cut-scene)

Me: (wanders up, finds both boys leaning on the railing) Did you find what you were looking for?

Alpha: (dismissive) No, its where all the emo teens shop. Nothing there for me.

Me: (raises eyebrows, said cooly) Then it was totally your shop. (peeks in) I’d wear half that stuff if it was in my size. No wonder you didn’t like it. (thinks) Okay, there’s one other place we can try.

(montage of wandering through difficult crowds, uneven floor plans)

Me: (stops in front of Spencer’s Gifts) If you don’t find anything befitting your tough teen image, we’re back to the internet. (sails calmly past a shirt display full of profanity and pot leaves)

(Alpha and Beta edge carefully in, skittishly pick through the store)

Me: (discovers she lost her shadows, back tracks, finds them at the lava lamp display) I always wanted one of those.

Beta: (hopeful) Me too. Think we can get one?

Alpha: Uh…mom? I have questions.

Me: (looks up, follows Alpha’s gaze behind her to the Bachelorette section. Contemplates a row of turgid and rainbow colored lollypops for a moment.) Well. I have answers.

Alpha/Beta: (laughs nervously)

Me: What, embarrassed of a few penises?

Alpha/Beta: (more nervous laughter)

Alpha: (turns to brother) We will never speak of this again.

(both boys turn on their heels and march out of the store. Carrot follows humming a jaunty tune)

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No Gratitude

(scene opens with mom coming from grocery shopping)

Me: (humming, puts away groceries, pulls out bag of hazelnut M&Ms, divides equally in four bowls, hands them out)

Alpha: (doesn’t notice bowl balanced on his belly, too busy raiding)

Beta: (takes it with extreme dramatic suffering, cheek stuffed with gauze)

Delta: M&Ms!? I LOVE M&Ms!

Gamma: (hands bowl back) Mom, I only like Skittles.

Me: (sighs) Eat your M&Ms, sweetie. They’re good for you.

My Compliments

(scene opens in a Party City, behind the counter in a fabulous array of balloons)

Me: (steps up to counter and places down items, still staring at the balloons)
Cashier: (in a voice deeper than Barry White and richer than James Earl Jones) Did you find everything you need?
Me: Oh, yes. (eyes still on balloons) Thank you. You have a very beautiful voice.
Cashier: (pleased rumble) Thank you.
Me: (realized what she just did, stares up at him) Oh my gosh. Was that inappropriate? I’m sorry.
Cashier: (counting change) No, you’re fine.
Me: Really? (panicked) I don’t want to create an unsafe working environment.
Cashier: (relaxes further, smile wider) Here’s your change. You have a beautiful day now.
Me: Thank you. You too, sir.

(scene cuts to sidewalk, Carrot squinting up at the sky)

Me: Well, there’s another store I won’t be able to go to for the rest of the year.

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.

New Year Spirits

(scene opens in rainy parking lot, loading groceries in the car)

Beta: (going as slow as possible, everything weighs a thousand pounds)
Me: (exasperated) Is there a problem, Beta?
Beta: You didn’t get me bubble gum. Or Coke.
Me: (incredulous) I got a crate of flavored hot cocoa. I got hot pretzels. Sparkling cider. Doritos. Pizza rolls. Lemonade, chocolate milk, and Goose Island root beer. A box sampler of Jelly Belly beans! Pie and whipped cream! You’re going to pout about Coke and bubble gum?
Beta: (sags a little and mumbles) But I like Coke and bubble gum.
Me: You are my saddest panda. That’s your spirit animal. Sad Panda. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the saddest trombones in the background, playing for the world’s saddest panda. (makes sad trombone noise)
Beta: (sags further, the embodiment of suffering) But bubble gum….
Me: We have so much New Year’s eve snack food, you won’t have time to chew bubble gum. Trust me. Get in the car, Sad Panda. Its cold out here.

The Way She Moves

(scene opens in grocery store)

Me: (critically looks through the pre-sliced deli selection. Takes a variety of cheeses)
Deli Employee #1: (rolls up with a cart of fresh bagged meats)
Me: Oooh! Do you have turkey?
DE #1: Got some I.D.?
Me: Aww man, you gonna card me for some turkey?
DE #1: (turns to look at co-worker) Make her dance for it?
Me: Make me dance?
DE #2: That’d work. (mimics a little white girl shuffle)
Me: (claps hands, busts out a modified Fortnight emote)

(both deli employees double over with laughter)

DE #1: My man. Giv’er here. (holds out fist)
Me: (completes fist bump, takes the bacon wrapped turkey) Thank you, gentlemen. Have a good one.

In Preparation

(Scene opens in dinning room, ridiculous piles of school supplies everywhere, fast sort begins)

Grade School Pile: ALL THE THINGS! YOU MUST STOCK UP FOR THE APOCALYPSE! THERE IS NO HOPE OF EVER FINDING ANOTHER PENCIL PAST THE START OF SCHOOL! IF YOU ARE NOT TRIPLE STOCKED NOW YOU WILL NEVER GRADUATE AND IT WILL GO ON YOUR PERMANENT RECORD! YOU WILL BE JUDGED ON THE TYPE OF CRAYONS YOU GET AND YOUR FOLDERS NEED TO BE SPECIFIC COLORS THAT NO ONE CARRIES! ALSO ANTI-BIOTIC EVERYTHING BECAUSE OF REASONS!

Middle School Pile: Overly organized and oversized binders that you will never use. Start to flirt with college ruled. Adult calculator but your scissors are still safety. More pencils than grade school, half the markers. Do kids not use pens any more?

High School Pile: Got a folder? A pencil? Cool. Here’s your locker combo. Good luck.

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)

Someone who understands

(scene opens in brightly lit festive face-care aisle)

Helpful Target Lady: Can I help you find anything?
Me: Yes. I woke up yesterday to discover I had teen boys covered in acne and now have to teach them a skin care regimen that’s not too girlie. There used to be a St. Ives blue clay face mask?
HTL: I haven’t seen that in a while. I can recommend some other brands if you like. How many boys do you have?
Me: Three. (Points to Delta, hiding his face) He’s the youngest. The other two are just 12 and about to hit 14. They haven’t even gotten to the serious acne age yet and we’ve already hit gross levels. Like they still stink getting out the shower.
HTL: I called those the Gangrene Years. I had five boys.
Me: (Helpless laughter, touches arm in sympathy) You are a woman of strength. There’s hope for me?
HTL: Yes. But it’s going to take a while.

Growing up the hard way

(scene opens in parlor sweatshop)

Gamma: Mommy! What cake are we having for dinner?
Me: (around a mouthful of pins) We don’t have any cake.
Gamma: (scandalized) No cake?!? But it’s your birthday! Why don’t you have any cake!?!
Me: (Pressing seams in a cloud of scalding steam) Because no one got me a cake.
Gamma: Don’t worry mommy. I have money. I’ll go buy you a cake.
Me: (stops to contemplate if there are any cake places in walking distance) No sweetie, save your money. Adults don’t always get cake on their birthdays.
Gamma: That’s sad.

That’s not how any of it works

(scene opens in parlor sweatshop)

Gamma: Mom, how much money do you have?
Me: (tracing out patterns) Not a lot. Why?
Gamma: Well, maybe you and daddy and I could put all our money together and buy a foster child so I can have a sister.
Me: (stops tracing) That’s not how it works, sweetie.
Gamma: But I need a sister. I’m all alone in this house with all these boys. Don’t you want me to have a sister and a friend?

Please hold

(scene opens with harried mother pacing living room on the Bluetooth)

Customer Service Rep: How can I help you today?
Me: So, I had this jacket – it was a gift, so I don’t have any purchase information – and the zipper needed to be repaired and I went through your website to get the shipping/warranty to ship it back to you to fix it and I can’t find any tracking information to see if it got to you or on its way back or if its currently being repaired…..?
CSR: …..well, okay, we can look that up for you. Do you remember when you sent it in?
Me: …uh…I’m the stay home mother of four children, my sense of time is flexible.
CSR: (starts laughing)
Me: It could have been last week, could have been three weeks ago, I’m not really sure.
CSR: My 12 year old niece is living with us now. I understand. I can’t imagine how it would be with four.
Me: Thank you for not judging me.