How to Make Your Sister Useful

March 24, 2021

“Annie, please put your shoes away,” I said, as Annie kicked off her shoes after walking inside. This entailed picking up her shoes, walking about five steps, and putting them into her shoe bin in the closet.

“Cora, will you please put my shoes away?” said Annie.

“No,” said Cora. 


“No, I don’t want to.”

Annie paused, thinking hard. “Don’t put my shoes away, Cora, okay? Don’t do it. Don’t put them away.”

“Okay, I won’t,” said Cora, mildly.

“Don’t put my shoes away!” Annie repeated.

“Don’t worry, I won’t,” Cora reassured her.

“She’s too smart for us all,” I said sympathetically to Annie. 

Annie made a very-frustrated noise. “Aren’t you going to put them away?”

“You said no, so I am listening to you and I am not putting them away.”

“Cora, please put them away!” 

“No… I don’t want to.”

“I want you to put them away!” said Annie, and we could feel the storm clouds gathering.

“Annie! You’ve got to put your shoes away!” I said, pretending not to know what was going on.

Annie looked at her shoes, and at her sister, who was sitting on the floor, playing with a flashlight. She was pretending it was a phone.

Through a herculean effort, Annie swallowed her rage and did a system-reboot, emerging like a phoenix from flames of rage as her sweetest self. She went over to her sister and smiled. She pretended none of the prior conversations had happened at all. “Cora! Would you get my shoes and put them in the closet for me?” she asked, in her most loving-big-sister voice.

“Okay, sure!” said Cora. She put down her flashlight, picked up her sister’s shoes, and put them away in the closet.