This play is based upon the children's book "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed?" written by Wade Bradford and illustrated by Johanna van der Sterre. (Published by Random House.)
Teachers and students may use this play for educational purposes. Read the first part of the play, "A History of Messy Rooms."
Mom: And that little girl was as cantankerous as an old sea dog. And she said...
1600s Kid: I already swabbed the deck. I dusted off the captain's spy scope. I even picked out the rats that were hiding in the pickle barrel.
1600s Kid: So why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: Her mother clucked her tongue and said, "That reminds me of a story about your double-great-great-great-grandfather, when he was a little boy.
Jamie: Now how far back are we going?
Mom: Hundreds and hundreds of years, to the middle ages.
Jamie: Like with kings and queens? Was our ancestor a knight?
(A little Medieval Kid stands heroically center stage. He holds up a small broom as if it was a sword.)
Mom: No. He was a peasant. But he was very adventurous, and loved to frolic and play outside. Sound familiar? But on this day, he was as wicked as a warlock, and he said...
Medieval Kid: I already sheared the sheep and milked the yak. I dusted off sister's loom. I even planted the wheat and picked up all of the pig droppings.
Jamie: That's even grosser than the rats in the pickle barrel.
Medieval Kid: We use the animal droppings to help stoke our fire. But it is kind of gross. So tell me, ma-ma, why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: His mother just put her hands on her hips and said, "That reminds me of a story about your double-great-great-double-double-great-great-grandmother, when she was a little girl. And that little girl was more thunderous than Thor, and she said..."
(A girl with a viking helmet struts onto the stage.)
Jamie: (Trying to guess the era.) Oh, I know, I know. We're back in Viking Times.
Viking Girl: Silence, scrawny boy! This is my scene! I already stoked the fire for the sword maker. I dusted off the sacred blowing horn. I even picked up the broken spears and patched up father's war wounds.
Jamie: No toys to put away?
Viking Girl: Toys? What are toys?
Jamie: I guess not.
Viking Girl: So tell me Mama Viking, after all of this work, why do I have to make my bed?
(A viking mother, looking very gruff, enters.)
Mother: Her mother just burped---
Viking Mother: Burp!
Mother: And said...
Viking Mother: I shall tell you, my obnoxious viking daughter, that all of your grumbling reminds me of a story about your triple-great-triple-great-triple-great-great-grandfather, when he was a little boy. And that little boy was as ill-tempered as a caged lion, and he said...
(The viking family makes way as a Boy from Ancient Rome enters.)
Roman Boy: Make way, make way! Gladiators coming through!
(Two gladiators battle their way across the stage.)
Jamie: Gladiators! We must be in ancient Rome!
Mom: 121 A.D. Almost two thousand years ago.
Roman Boy: No time to talk. I've got so much to do. (He pantomimes his chores as he talks.) I've got to unclog the aqueducts.
Jamie: What are aqueducts?
Roman Boy: It's how we get our water. And after that I dusted off the statues in the courtyard. (Several actors can pose as statues.) And I even picked up after the gladiators. (One or two gladiators can fall over, or just drop a sword -- the Roman Boy then carries them away.)
Jamie: That sounds hard.
Roman Boy: It is. Especially when lions are involved. So, after all of this, why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: His mother just brushed her golden hair and said, "That reminds me of a story about your triple-great-great-triple-triple-great-great-great grandmother, when she was a little girl. And that little girl was as cranky as a crocodile. And she said...
Jamie: Just how far back does this story go?
Egyptian Girl: Welcome to Egypt!
Mom: One thousand B.C.
Jamie: It's hot and dry.
Egyptian Girl: That's because we live on the edge of the SSahara Desert, close to the Nile River.
Jamie: Where are the pyramids?
Egyptian Girl: We're still working on them. It is my job to give water to the pyramid builders, which I have already done this morning. Then I dusted off father's papyrus scroll. I even gathered up the plague of frogs Big Brother snuck into our tent. So, tell me, O Wise Mother, why do I have to make my bed? Isn't it just going to get messed up again?
Mom: Her mother just brushed a toad from her tunic and said, "That reminds me of a story about one of your ancestors, when he was a little boy. And that little boy was as sour as a saber-toothed tiger, and he said..."
Jamie: Where are we going now?
Mom: Back to the days of the Stone Age... 30,000 B.C.
Jamie: Wow. Were there dinosaurs back then?
Mom: No. The dinosaurs were already extinct. But humans had to deal with all sorts of unruly creatures. (Kids can make some wild animal noises.) Woolly Mammoths... Cave Bears...
Cave Mom: Children! While I am gathering and father is hunting, these children won't stop asking me questions.
Cave Boy: Me already clean cave! Me hunt mammoth! Me dust stalagmites! Me make fire! Why me have to make bed? It just get messed up again! Why? Why? Why?
Mom: And that Cave Mom looked at her Cave Son, and she was the first person in the history of the world to utter this phrase:
Cave Mom: (Staring very seriously at her son.) Because I said so.
Cave Boy: Oh!
Mom: Said the cave boy, who straightened his bed of sticks and fur.
Egyptian Girl: Oh.
Mom: Said the Egyptian Girl, who fluffed up her bed of flax and linen.
Mom: Said the Roman boy, who smoothed the wrinkles out of his wool blanket.
Viking Girl: Oh.
Mom: Said the Viking girl who shook fleas from her caribou hide.
Medieval Kid: Oh.
Mom: Said the Medieval boy, who stuffed more goose feathers into his pillow.
1600s Kid: Oh.
Mom: Said the pilgrim girl, who neatly folded her mother's quilt.
1700s Kid: Oh.
Mom: Said the Virginian boy. who pulled up his sheets nice and straight.
Cow Girl: Oh.
Mom: Said the country girl, who heaped handfuls of hay into her mattress.
1910 Kid: Oh.
Mom: Said the city boy, who tucked his sheets under the corners.
1950s Girl: Oh.
Mom: Said your grandmother, who made everything tidy and neat.
(Jamie has been watching as each child pantomimes making his/her bed.)
Mom: And that, my dear son of mine, is the end of the story.
Mom: My son said...
Jamie: I guess I'll make my bed.
The Entire Cast: The End! Optional: Mom, Jamie, and the others can pretend to make a bed.