“Andy,” said his mom, “the boys say you’re breaking their toys.  Is that true?”

“No,” said Andy.  Of course he wasn’t breaking their toys.  He’d stepped on them, yes.  But the triplets had already broken all of their toys that could be broken.  Any toys they had left would survive a nuclear war.

“Where are the toys Andy broke, boys?” his mom asked.

“All over,” said Johnny.  “Can’t you see them?”

“What I see,” said their mom, “is that you boys have spread all of your toys around the room again.  And I also see that you haven’t cleaned up Andy’s clothes yet either.  I want all three of you to put away all of your toys.  And then I want you to clean up Andy’s clothes.  If you don’t do it right now, you can’t go to the Benson’s to play tomorrow.”

“That’s okay, Mom,” said Donny.  “We can play in our room tomorrow with our toys.”

“And you won’t get dessert tonight,” said Mom.  “We’re having banana splits.”

“Banana splits!” said all three of the boys at once.

“With bananas?” said Donny.

“Well duh,” said Andy.

“Andy, that’s not polite, dear,” said Mom.  “Yes, Donny, with bananas.”

“And with splits?” said Ronny.

“What!” said Andy.  “You’re so…”

“Andy, that’s enough.”  Mom frowned at Andy.  Then she turned back to Ronny and smiled.  “Yes, honey, with splits.”

“Yummy!” said Johnny.  “Let’s get cleaning so we can have banana splits!”  And the triplets began throwing their toys back under their bunk bed and into their toy box.

“And Andy,” said Mom, “maybe it would be better if you came out while the boys cleaned.”

Andy wasn’t sure it would be better.  He was afraid that if no one watched the triplets, his clothes would end up at the bottom of their closet.  “I don’t know, Mom.  Maybe I’d better…”

“Andy, come,” Mom said.

“Okay, I’m coming,” he said.  But before he left the room, he stopped at his desk and turned to the next page in the booklet.

 

“Step Five:  Whine.”

 

Andy followed his mother into the kitchen.  “How would you like to help me with dinner?” she said.  “Would you please peel some potatoes?”

“Okay,” said Andy.  He picked three large potatoes from the potato basket, found a peeler in a drawer, and began to peel the potatoes into the sink.

As he peeled, his mom took some lettuce and tomatoes from the fridge and began to cut them up.

“Mom,” said Andy, “you saw what the boys did to our room and to my stuff.  And you saw how we fight.  Don’t you think it would be a good idea for me to have my own room?”

“Andy, please,” said his mother.  “Let’s not discuss it right now.”

Andy stopped peeling. Time for step five. “But Mo-m-m-m-m-m!  I W-A-A-A-A-A-A-N-T MY OWN ROOM!”

Mom stopped cutting and looked at Andy.  “Andy, we don’t allow whining here.”

“But the boys whine all the time!”

“They’re only four and they’re learning.  You’re old enough to know better.”

“But Mo-m-m-m-m-m!”

“Andy, five minute timeout on the living room couch.  I want you to sit there quietly with your arms folded.”  Mom reached over to the oven clock.  “I’ll set the timer so you’ll know when you can get up.”

“But Mo-m-m-m, that’s not fair!”

“Ten minutes, Andy.  Now go.”  She set the timer for ten minutes.

Andy threw the potato and peeler into the sink, stomped into the living room, fell onto the couch, and slam-folded his arms against his chest.

For ten minutes all Andy thought was, “I WANT MY OWN ROOM!”