3.27.2011

The Elves and the Mama

Subtitled: "How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up the House on a Saturday Night When You're Sick and They've Been Home All Day Trashing It"

I do not normally resort to manipulation in order to get my kids to do something. There are those who would say that one word from me should be enough for them. But in the real world, desperate times call for desperate measures. And I don't really refer to this as manipulation. I prefer the euphemism, "child psychology."

Here is the script, which may be adapted as needed.

Sit down in a chair, with the kids around, and tell them that you are going to play a story game. (Whatever that is). Odds are that when you start talking, they will begin acting out what you say at the appropriate time, assuming that they are in good moods, and the stars have aligned properly, and they're not too old to be too cool for it.

Begin with this:

Once upon a time, there was a Mama. She loved being a Mama, and she loved her children very much. She loved to play with them and take care of them. And every day, she did her chores to make sure that her family had what they needed.

But one day, the Mama began to feel very yucky. Her forehead got really hot and her throat felt like there was sandpaper inside of it. She knew there was much to do, but alas, she needed to rest. So the Mama sat down in her recliner and closed her eyes. Just for a minute, she thought to herself. Then she fell asleep.

While she was sleeping, two little elves crept out from the tiny hole where they lived, behind the recliner. The elves saw the sleeping, sick Mama and wanted very much to help her. Then they looked around and saw her messy house, with toys and clutter spread out in every single room. And the elves knew just what to do. They quietly tiptoed past the Mama, down the hall to the bedrooms. The little girl elf slipped into the room belonging to the Mama's daughter. And the little boy elf headed for the room belonging to the Mama's son. And then, quiet as could be and quick as a wink, they got to work. They put toys in toyboxes. They put dirty clothes in hampers. They put books back on bookshelves. And they didn't even make a sound.

After some time, the Mama began to yawn and stretch and wake up. And the elves, just finishing up, knew they needed to RUN, RUN, RUN back to the little hole behind the recliner before she saw them. When the Mama woke up and saw the children's rooms, she was astonished. "How did this happen?" she asked aloud. "Who could have done this for me?"

Later that same day, the Mama felt so tired that she had to close her eyes again. And just like before, the elves crept out again. But this time, they noticed that the living room and the dining room needed some tidying up. They put Candyland away. They cleaned up coloring books and crayons. They even put away some of the Mama's things that she had left out.

While they were working, the Mama awoke. She heard quiet sounds around her. She barely opened one eye and saw the little elves hard at work, cleaning up. But they did not know she was awake.

Thrilled to have been shown such kindness by the little creatures, the Mama left out a special snack of Teddy Grahams for the elves to discover...right next to their little hole.

The End.

Disclaimer: I am pretty sure that the magic in this is a one-shot deal, not something that can be repeated. It's like playing a get-out-of-jail-free card. So choose your opportunity for manipulation and snack bribery wisely, before your little elves wise up to your scheme.

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