"A History of Messy Rooms"
A companion play to the children's book
"Why Do I Have to Make My Bed?"
By Wade Bradford
About the Original Story: The children's book, Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? Or, a History of Messy Rooms was published in February 2011 by Random House/Tricycle Press. It is written by Wade Bradford and illustrated by Johanna van der Sterre. The book is currently available at bookstores, libraries, and online retail stores.
Scene: A boy's bedroom. The story will begin in modern times. Through the magic of theater, we will be going back through the ages.
Jamie: Mom, I put the dishes in the dish washer. Just like you asked. I'm going outside to play.
Mom: Jamie, have you finished your chores?
Jamie: Most of them.
Mom: Most of them?
Jamie: I already told you.
Mom: You put the dishes in the dish washer?
Jamie: Yes, and it was exhausting. Can I go outside a play now?
Mom: Did you clean your room?
Jamie: I cleaned it last Saturday!
Mom: You are supposed to clean it every Saturday. Please do it now, Jamie. It won't take long. Then when all of your chores are out of the way, you can have the rest of the weekend to enjoy yourself.
Jamie: All right.
Mom: That's my boy.
The Mom walks away. Jamie walks to his room, where other actors pretend to be toys scattered all over his floor. His bed (which might just be a pile of blankets and pillows) is very messy.
Jamie: Oh no. My room is a mess! Mom, this is going to take forever!
Mom: Then you better get started.
Jamie: Fine. First, I better pick up my Army Men. March, two three four.
(Two or three kids playing the role of army men stand up and march away.)
Army Men: Hup two three four!
Jamie: And now my toy dinosaur collection. You guys better climb back on the shelf, back to where you belong.
(Two or three kids playing the role of dinosaurs growl like as they crawl to their proper places.)
Jamie: Oh, and I almost forgot. My robot monkey action figures. Time to go back to you box.
(Two or three kids act like robot monkeys and climb into a cardboard box.)
Jamie: Hey, that didn't take too long. Mom! I cleaned my room!
Mom: Well, now. It looks much better. (She notices his bed.) Uh-oh.
Mom: You forgot to make your bed.
Jamie: Oh, Mom! Why do I have to make my bed? I already did the dishes. I picked up my army men, my dinosaurs, and my robot monkey action figures. So why do I have to make my bed? It's just going to get messed up again?
Mom: Hmm... That reminds me a of story about your grandmother when she was a little girl.
Jamie: Grandma used to be a little kid? Like me?
Mom: Of course. Why wouldn't she?
Jamie: I just figured she started out old. Like you.
Mom: No, we were all little kids once. See down the hallway? That black and white picture hanging on the wall? That's your grandmother when she was your age.
(A little girl from the 1950s sits still as if she is in a photograph.)
Jamie: When was this?
Mom: It's from the 1950s
Jamie: Wow. She looks grumpy.
Mom: Oh yes, on that day, I bet she was as grumpy as a groundhog because her mother said, "Make your bed."
1950s Girl: But I already washed and dried the dishes. I dusted my rock n roll records. I even picked up my slinky, my Hula Hoops, and my roller skates.
Jamie: Hey, I have roller skates.
Mom: Yes you do.
Jamie: Did Grandma have robot monkey action figures?
Mom: I don't think so.
1950s Girl: Gee whiz, Mom, why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: Her mother just tapped her foot and said, that reminds me of a story about your grand father, when he was a little boy.
(A kid from the early 1900s steps into the scene.)
Mom: And that little boy was as mad as a wet cat, and he said..,
Jamie: Wait, why is he dressed like that?
Mom: Well, the clothes were pretty different back then.
Jamie: Back when?
Mom: Let's see, your great-great grandfather would have been a little boy around 1910.
Mom: And that little boy said...
(The 1910 Kid can pantomime each chore as he mentions it.)
1910 Kid: I already fetched water from the pump, and I dusted the phonograph.
Jamie: Wait, what's a phonograph?
Mom: It's like a record player.
Jamie: Oh. Wait, what's a record player.
Mom: Let's get back to the story.
1910 Kid: I even picked up my spinning tops, my toy train, and my tin soldiers. Pray tell, mother, why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: His mother just smirked and said, "That reminds me of a story about your great-grandmother when she was a little girl..."
(A cowgirl from the 1800s steps out onto the stage.)
Jamie: What decade is she from?
Mom: The 1800s. The Old West.
Cowgirl: We don't say cool in the Old West. We say "Yeee-haw!!!"
Mom: But that little cowgirl was as bothersome as a badger and she said...
Cowgirl: I already drew water from the well. I dusted off pa's fiddle. I even picked up my lasso, my marbles and my rag dolly. Land sake's, Ma. Why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: Her mother just scrubbed the wood floors of the cabin and said, "That reminds me of a story about your great-grand father, when he was a little boy..."
Jamie: How far does this story go back?
Mom: Well, right now it's going back to the 1700s, to the time of George Washington, Ben Franklin, and the American Revolution. But in the middle of all that there was a boy who felt as ruffled as a hen, and he said..."
1700s Kid: I already hung my britches to dry. I dusted father's printing press. I even picked up the eggs in the hen house and the tomatoes in the garden.
Jamie: Yikes, you have to do all those chores. That sounds like a lot.
1700s Kid: It certainly is. So why do I have to make my bed?
Mom: His mother just fluttered her fan and said, "That reminds me of a story great-great-great-grandmother, when she was a little girl.
(A 1600s girl steps out onto the stage. She sways from side to side.)
Jamie: Where is she from?
Mom: The 1600s.
Jamie: Why is she swaying back and forth in her bedroom?
Mom: She's not in her bedroom. She's a pilgrim, and she's on a boat, traveling across the Atlantic Ocean.
1600s Kid: get on with the story, please. I am getting sea sick.