Scale Appropriately

(scene starts in bedroom, Carrot knee deep in girl toys)

Me: (sorting, cleaning, organized)

(off screen the shouts and yells of boys)

Me: (sighs, extracts self, goes downstairs)

(scene begins in kitchen, moderately clean)

Delta: (wailing in toddler)

Alpha: (throwing up hands) That’s it! I’m done! I’m done! No more!

Beta: (sees disapproving Carrot in the doorway) Delta gets upset because the show ends and he wants another one.

Alpha: (outraged) And he doesn’t tell me what he wants, he just cries for what he wants! We already showed him out to use the remote!

Me: (sighs, rubs forehead) He’s four, guys. He needs help using the remote for a smart TV. That’s a little above his pay grade.

Beta: (indignant) He can do lots of things above his pay grade. He should be able to use a smart remote!

Me: (with salt) Almost like how, as teenagers, you should be able to brush your teeth twice a day without me yelling at you, yet for some reason that seems to be way beyond your pay grade.

(camera cuts to three way stare down)

Alpha: (sighs, takes Delta’s hand, head to tv room) I’ll fix it for you, Delta.

Me: (silent and strategic retreat)

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No Hope for Our Future

(scene opens in moderately clean kitchen)

Me: (enters, sees two boys wrestling at the counter) What are you doing?

(they part to reveal a Chef Boyardee can, mangled by can opener)

Me: (stares at them, stares at can)
Them: (stare back)
Me: (cautiously approaches the can, lays a finger on the pull tab) Do you not know what this is?
Beta: No.
Me: (stares out the window, deep breath, pops tab, pulls back lid)
Them: (stare)
Me: (infinite gentleness) Alpha, did you not open yours this way?
Alpha: …No. (leaves room)
Beta: I apologize for my being an imbecile.
Me: (sadly) I love you.

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.

Know your limitations

(scene opens in tossed kitchen, two parents, dressed for cold, enter from two different doors)

Husband: (looks wife up and down in question)
Me: (towing smalls, removing coats) Parent Track meeting. Ended up being earlier than I thought.
Beta: (enter from third door, panicked, waving arms) Where have you been! No one was home! I was worried! (throws himself into mother’s arms)
Me: (amusedly perplexed) I’m sorry, honey. I would have left a note, but I didn’t think of it. I thought you’d come in, see no one was here and make yourself a snack and play video games.
Beta: (hotly) I didn’t know where anyone was! I had to be responsible!
Me: But you only had to look after yourself.
Beta: Exactly! I can’t take care of myself! You know this! How could you do this to me? (stomps off to the basement)

Survival Skills

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, close up on thermometer reads -30 outside, 50 inside)

Me: (in multiple laters, stocking cap, fingerless gloves, pouring coffee into thermal travel mug)
Gamma: Mom, can I have my water bottle?
Me: (concentrating on the hot) Sure, go ahead and get it.
Gamma: (puts it under dripping-to-prevent-freezing faucet)
Me: Here, let me help. (fills it)
Gamma: Not too much!
Me: (hands it back) Why not? Wait, what are you doing?
Gamma: (takes to ice maker, stuffs full of ice) I’m a master of surviving and preventing heat stroke. (said proudly)
Me: (sighs and nods approvingly) Good job.