Andy had really scared them.  Maybe he had scared them too much.  They weren’t always horrible.  Sometimes they were nice.  Sometimes they were fun to play with.  And they were right.  He would miss them if they were gone.

“Okay,” said Andy.  He went over to his bed and sat down.  He picked up his big white tiger and whispered in its ear.  Then he put the tiger’s mouth to his ear.  And then he put the tiger back on the bed.

“The tiger says he was just kidding,” said Andy.  “He says they wouldn’t eat you.  In fact, he says that if you’re very nice to them, they’ll even protect you from monsters.”

“All right!” said Johnny.

“Yay white tigers!” said Donny.

“Yay Andy!” said Ronny.

And all three boys hopped off their beds, and ran over and jumped on Andy and the white tigers.

 

Andy wriggled himself out from under his brothers, and went back to his desk and sat down.  He liked his brothers.  Sometimes.

But he’d like them more if he didn’t have to sleep in the same room with them.

 

He turned the page in the booklet.

 

“Step Ten:  Clean your room.  Do the dishes.  Then give your mother a big hug and kiss.  Apologize to her for steps one through nine.  And then ask her nicely.”

 

“What!” said Andy.  That was a lot of work.  But it was the last step.  He might as well try it.

 

Andy pulled his clothes out of his drawers, folded them, and put them back in neatly.  Then he wrestled his tigers away from his brothers and set them on his dresser.

He shooed his brothers off his bed and made it.

He cleaned up under his bed, and lined all his shoes up straight.

 

Then he went into the kitchen to do the dishes.

But there weren’t any dishes to do.  They hadn’t had dinner yet.  Maybe he could do something else instead.

He went out the front door and looked around.  There were leaves all over the place.  He got the leaf rake from the garage, raked the leaves into piles, and then put the piles in the garbage.

 

“Why, Andy!  Thank you!”  There was his mother on the porch, looking at the clean lawn and smiling.  She came over and helped him put the last of the leaves in the garbage can.

“And I was just in your room looking for you,” she said.  “The boys said you did a lot of cleaning in there.  Your room looks nice.”

Andy reached up around his mother’s neck, stood on his toes and gave her a kiss.  “I’m sorry for steps one through nine,” he said.

“What?” asked Mom.

“I’m just sorry.  But Mom…” he tried to figure out the best way to ask… “it would make me so happy if I had my own room.  I could keep it clean.  My room now is hardly ever clean.  And I could play and do my homework without the boys jumping on me.”

“I understand, Andy,” said Mom.  “But we just don’t have another bedroom.”

“Oh,” said Andy.  “Okay then.”  The “ten easy steps” didn’t work after all.  He hung his head and began walking back to the house.

“There is my sewing room, though,” Mom said.

Andy stopped.

“I don’t really need it,” his mom said.  “I haven’t done any sewing for a long time.  It’s small, but it might work.”

Andy turned.  He smiled.  “Small’s okay.”

 

And then he ran back to his mom and gave her a big hug.

“I’ll talk to your dad about it when he gets home,” she said.  “I don’t think he’ll mind, especially after I tell him how good you’ve been.”  She winked at Andy.

 

Back in his room, the triplets were making their beds.

“Mom said you were a neat kid because you made your bed,” said Johnny.

“So we’re making our beds,” said Donny.

“We’re going to be neat kids too,” said Ronny.

 

Andy smiled at them, then sat down at his desk.  He picked up the booklet.  He would definitely keep it.  Someplace safe.  Because he was going to need it again.

“But next time,” he thought, “I’ll just skip steps one through nine.”