The scene opens on a slightly cluttered but serene living room where a young girl watches television. She is about fifteen minutes into a half hour episode of the Wonder Pets. A contented mother is peeling apples in the kitchen, with a baby crawling around at her feet…
“Monkey, after The Wonderpets are over, you have to go clean your room.” I say from the kitchen, where I am tackling an apple pie.
“Okay Mom!! I will.” She happily responds, adding the finishing touches to her latest work of art.
Twenty or so minutes later, after hearing Monkey happily run upstairs to begin cleaning, I curiously poke my head back into the living room, having noticed the top of her head pop up from the depths of the couch.
“Monkey, why aren’t you cleaning your room? Didn’t I say you needed to go clean it after Wonder Pets?
“Look!” she says happily, pointing to the t.v.”It’s still on, there was another one.” She settles back into the couch, confident in the security of her position.
Sigh. “Honey, turn off the television and go clean your room please.”
“But Mom! You said after the Wonderpets!”
“I meant after the last Wonderpets, and you knew that, as you went upstairs to clean when it was over. Please stop delaying and go clean your room, you have been putting this off all weekend.”
“Okay Mom.” She grumbles, shooting me a look that clearly indicates I am currently playing the role of Evil Stepmother in her personal daytime soap opera.
About thirty minutes later, after following the faint jumping sounds into the living room…
“Monkey honey, what are you doing downstairs? Aren’t you supposed to be cleaning your room?
“But Mom! I am not watching T.V.!!” She says as she hops lightly from foot to foot, clearly engaged in an invisible game of hop scotch.
Shaking off the tangent, I point out the obvious “True, but you are also not upstairs cleaning your room.”
“But I am NOT watching T.V.!!” She sallies back, hands now resting on her hips, in an unconscious mimicry of me at my most irritated.
“I agree. However, you are NOT upstairs cleaning your room.” I respond, fearing that maybe in my sleep I began speaking French or Russian and am therefore no longer communicating in a language she can understand.
“MOM! I AM NOT WATCHING T.V.!!” She yells, stamping her foot at the unfairness of the universe in general and me in particular.
“Monkey” I exclaim, much closer to a bellow than I like to get “You will go upstairs now and clean your room or there will be no play-date with Mariah tomorrow. Do you understand?”
“Oh!! Yes mom!” She says as she dashes up the steps into her Cinderella role once again, finally having enough motivation to tackle her most hated chore.