Being cooperative

It is not always easy being the youngest in the family. At least, that was what Michelle told me. She was the youngest of three children and felt that her two sisters and her parents were always bossing her around. Her sisters, Tessa and Marie, got to do more things than she did and, though at times she felt angry toward them, she really wished she could be in their shoes and do the things that they were doing. Being the youngest just wasn't fair.

Fortunately, things changed on her birthday. Her parents gave her a witch's costume for a present, and along with the costume came a book of magical spells. Michelle began to shut herself in her room more often, dressing up in her witch's costume and practicing magic spells. One spell, Wishus Fulfilus, was described as the most powerful, magical, wish-fulfilling spell. She followed the book's instructions step by step and then at the end, as the book instructed, said out loud, "Wishus Fulfilus Tessa." To anyone who doesn't understand a witch's magical-spell language this meant something like, "I wish I was my sister Tessa."

Instantly she found herself in Tessa's room. She looked down and saw that she was in Tessa's clothes. She looked in the mirror and she definitely looked like her next-eldest sister. Just as she was being amazed at her own power to make a wish come true, there was a knock on the door and in walked Michelle. Michelle was whining and began to pull at Tessa's things. Tessa started to get an-noyed—maybe it wasn't quite so cool being the middle sister and having a whining young kid sister. This is not so great, she thought, and said, "Wishus Fulfilus Marie"—I wish I was my sister Marie.

Instantly she was Marie, the eldest sister, in her eldest sister's bedroom. Again, she looked down at her clothes and in the mirror. Yes, she definitely was Marie. "Marie," her mother called from outside, "come and do the dishes." "Why me?" asked Marie. "Why can't Tessa or Michelle do them?" "Because you are older," said her mom, "and you have to be learning to take more responsibility."

Michelle began to think that it wasn't so much fun being Marie but decided to stick with it. She got to stay up a bit later that night than she would have done had she been Michelle, but Mom made her spend those extra hours doing really hard homework. She sat down and looked at it. There was math and science. There were symbols and words she didn't understand. It was such hard work being Marie that she found herself thinking, Mom gets to stay up late with nobody to boss her around. It must be fun to be Mom. So she said, "Wishus Fulfilus Mom."

Well, no sooner had she wished it than she found herself in Mom's place. By now Michelle would have been tucked up in bed and, indeed, both her elder sisters would also be in bed asleep. As Mom, she thought she would at least get to watch a late-night TV program that she, as Michelle, normally wouldn't be allowed to watch . . . but that wasn't to be. Instead, as Mom she was putting away the dishes, ironing shirts for Dad to wear to work in the morning, and cleaning up the kitchen after the family dinner—and then she was feeling so tired she just fell into bed. The alarm rang when it was still dark and cold; she hurriedly pulled on some clothes and was soon making sandwiches for Michelle, her sisters, and Dad for their lunches. She was waking the kids, getting them showered and seeing them off to school. She felt so tired she wished she were Dad. Dad managed a company and surely there was no one to boss him around. So she said, "Wishus Fulfilus Dad."

Instantly Michelle found herself sitting behind Dad's desk, looking into a computer screen with confusing, complicated facts and figures. His secretary walked in with a big bundle of mail, dropping it into two piles on his desk, saying that one was urgent and needed to be tended to today and the other not so urgent. Michelle looked at the big pile and wondered how it would ever get done. The phone rang. It was Dad's boss. Dad had a boss! He was telling Dad that the company was facing some cutbacks and Dad would have to fire several of the staff. These had been his friends for a long time, Dad answered. How could he tell them to leave when they had mortgages to pay and children to feed? "Sorry," explained Dad's boss, "It has to be done." Even before Michelle had hung up the phone she was wishing she were no longer Dad. So she said, "Wishus Fulfilus Michelle."

She just wanted to be herself, and with that wish she was. She was back in her classroom at school among her friends, looking at books that she at least understood to some degree. Her teacher could be a bit bossy at times, but to Michelle, she didn't seem all that bad now. In fact, it didn't feel all that bad when Michelle got home from school that night and walked into her own room. Things looked a little different from what they were before. Not that the room had changed, but maybe Michelle had changed a bit. Knowing how it felt to be in Tessa's and Marie's place, she didn't whine around them so much. She also felt it would be nice to take a bit more responsibility like Tessa and Marie. It might help her feel a bit more grown-up and give Marie more time to cope with all that difficult homework. Knowing all the things that Mom had to do made her a bit more understanding when Mom got bossy at times, and she also had a better understanding ofwhat had been happening in Dad's day when he came home grumpy from work.

When next she opened her spell book again, it wasn't with the thought of changing things for herself. In fact, it now felt pretty good just being who she was. With her magical wish-fulfilling spell she was now sending good wishes to Tessa, Marie, Mom, and Dad.

0 0

Post a comment