Wrong Way Mother's Day

by Brock Eastman

“Do you know what today is?” Daddy asks.

“The day we go to church,” Waverly says.

“Yes,” Daddy says, “but today is extra special.”

“Are they giving animal crackers for snacks?” Declan asks.

Daddy smiles. “Today, we celebrate Mommy.”

“It’s Mother’s Day!” Waverly and Declan say together.

“That’s right.” Daddy holds up a list. “I have three things I want you to do before we wake up Mommy.”

1. Create a card.
2. Clean your room.
3. Help make breakfast.

Daddy points to a box on the table. “You can use the art supplies to make your cards. I’ll be back after I wrap my gift.”

“My card will be better than yours,” Declan says as Daddy leaves.

“Will not,” Waverly says. “My card will be better, and I’ll make it faster.”

They run to the box. Glue smears. Paint plops and globs. Scissors snip everywhere.

“Finished,” Waverly says, showing off her card. A yellow sun, blue sky and two penguins decorate the front. Inside it says, “I Love Mommy.”

Declan’s hands are covered with glue and paint. He frowns. His card is a sticky mess.

Suddenly, Declan shouts, “I’ll clean my room first!” Before Waverly can stand, he dashes upstairs.

Waverly looks around her room.

How did it get so messy? she wonders. Princess dresses lay everywhere. Stuffed penguins flop near her closet. Her shoes aren’t in their basket.

Waverly sneaks to peek at Declan’s room. His is worse than hers. Every dinosaur is out of the toy box. Dirty socks litter the floor. Books lay around Declan’s beanbag chair instead of on the shelf.

She rushes to her room and piles princess dresses on one arm. She grabs her penguins and shoves everything into the closet. As she tosses her shoes into the basket, Declan pops through her door.

“Done!” he brags.

Waverly pushes past him. She peers into his room. No dinosaurs, clothes or books can be seen.

How did he do that so fast? Waverly wonders.

“We’re tied!” Declan says. “You beat me at card-making, but I beat you at room-cleaning.”

“I’ll win at making breakfast!” Waverly says.

Like two cheetahs racing across the savanna, they sprint for the kitchen.

“Whoa, there!” Daddy says as he sets eggs and bread on the counter. “Are you finished with your cards and rooms?”

Waverly nods.

“Good,” Daddy says. “Declan, please crack two eggs into this bowl. Waverly, I want you to make two pieces of toast. I need to pick some flowers.”

The moment Daddy steps outside, the race is on. Waverly shoves bread into the toaster.

“No!” Declan yells as an egg hits the floor.

Waverly giggles. She grabs strawberry jam, a knife and a plate. Then she smells smoke. Two burnt pieces of toast pop up.

Declan cracks another egg.

No time for new toast, Waverly thinks. She tosses the toast onto the plate and spreads jam over the black parts.

“Done!” she says.

A moment later, Daddy returns. He arranges bright flowers in a vase. Next, he scrambles eggs while the aroma of coffee fills the room. They put the cards, breakfast, coffee and vase on a tray.

“Happy Mother’s Day!” Waverly and Declan yell as they open the door to Mommy’s room.

Everything seems perfect until Mommy opens her cards. She gets green paint on her hands from the wet dinosaurs on Declan’s card.

Still, Mommy smiles and thanks them.

Then Mommy takes a bite of toast. She smiles but doesn’t take a second bite.

She can taste the burnt bread, Waverly thinks.

All of the sudden, two crashes echo down the hall.

“Come with me,” Daddy says to Waverly and Declan.

First, they stop in Declan’s room. Dinosaurs, dirty socks and books have exploded across his floor.

In Waverly’s room, an avalanche of penguins and princess dresses spills from her closet.

Daddy stares at them. “Is this how we clean our rooms?”

They shake their heads.

“And did you do your best on the cards you made for Mommy?”

“No, sir.”

“And did you rush making breakfast?”

“We raced to see who could finish first,” Declan says.

“We didn’t mean to ruin Mother’s Day,” Waverly adds.

Daddy pulls them into his arms. “You didn’t ruin Mother’s Day,” he says, “but remember that it’s not always about winning. Some things are about love, not competition.”

“OK, Daddy,” they say.

Waverly and Declan run back and climb into bed next to Mommy.

“We’re sorry we didn’t make your day special,” Waverly says.

“You did your best,” Mommy says.

“No, we didn’t,” Declan says. “But could we try again?”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Daddy says.

“OK, Mommy,” Waverly says. “Stay in bed while we redo your cards and breakfast.”

“Then we’ll clean our rooms and get ready for church,” Declan says.

“I’d love to stay in bed a little longer,” Mommy says.

Waverly looks at Declan. “Race you downstairs!” she says. “Just kidding.”

This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Illustrations © Howard McWilliam.