Tina was pretending to be a queen. She had on a foil crown and a purple cape, and all her dolls and stuffed animals sat before her.
“Read me a story!” she commanded. “Sing me a song!”
“Tina,” her mother called, “where are you? I need you.”
Tina ran into the kitchen, where her mother was stirring something on the stove. It smelled delicious.
“Did you need me to taste something, Mother?” she asked.
Her mother smiled. “No, your Majesty. I need you to feed Joey, please, while I finish stirring this pudding.”
Tina sighed as she sat down next to the high chair. Joey smiled at her as he got some applesauce on his chin. This was too messy a job for a queen! “Off with his head!” Tina ordered, waving the spoon. Joey giggled and clapped his hands, so Tina waved the spoon some more. “Arrest that baby!” she demanded. Joey laughed with delight.
Mother wiped Joey’s chin with a napkin and set a small bowl of pudding in front of Tina.
“Thank you so much for being my helper, Tina,” she said. “It makes me happy, and it makes Joey happy too.”
“It was fun,” Tina admitted. “But I’m not supposed to be a helper today. I’m a queen.”
“You are always a queen,” her mother said. “You are the best kind of queen, a helper queen.”
Tina gave Joey a spoonful of her pudding. “I’ve never heard of a helper queen before.”
Her mother looked surprised. “Helper queens are the most beautiful ones. They are loved by their subjects, and they always live happily ever after.” Mother gave Tina a quick hug, then carried Joey upstairs for his nap.
Tina ate her pudding slowly and listened to the soft lullaby her mother sang. “Bring me more pudding,” Tina whispered to nobody when her bowl was empty. “I’m the queen, and I can have all the pudding I want.” She carried her bowl and spoon over to the sink.
Mother came downstairs and asked, “Tina, would you like to help me put the pudding in dessert glasses for dinner?”
“OK.” Tina nodded. “Can we put marshmallows on top to surprise everyone?”
“That’s a great idea.”
Mother got a phone call, so Tina arranged marshmallows on the pudding by herself. She put four marshmallows around the outside and one in the middle so that they looked like a little white flower. She knew that her family would like that.
When the puddings were ready, Tina had to wait for her mother to help her put them into the refrigerator. She sat down by the window and spoke to herself in a low voice. “Get me a pony! The queen wishes to ride!”
When her mother got off the phone, she said, “Mrs. Owens had her baby. I’m going to take her dinner tonight, and I wish I had something special to take to her daughter, Lara. It’s hard sometimes for big sisters when a new baby comes home.”
Tina’s eyes lit up. “She can have my new purse with the mirror and comb, Mother. We can wrap it up really pretty.”
“That would be wonderful,” her mother said with a smile.
Tina rushed to her room to find the purse. Her dolls and stuffed animals still sat there, waiting for her commands. “Don’t just sit there,” she said in a deep voice. “There’s work to be done. Find my new purse, and wrap it up really pretty!” Tina took the present into the kitchen and set it on the table.
“You did a fine job of wrapping,” her mother said. “Or did your servants do that?”
“I had to help them,” Tina admitted.
“I thought so.” Mother nodded. “It looks like a queenly job to me.”
Tina smiled. “Mother, may I go to the Owens’s with you and give Lara the present?”
Later, when she went to Tina’s room to tell her that it was time to go, Mother was surprised to see all of Tina’s dolls and animals covered with blankets. Tina was sitting on the floor, quietly reading them a story.
“Are they going down for naps?” Mother whispered.
“No.” Tina showed her the nurse’s cap tucked around her crown. “All my subjects are sick, and I’m helping them get better.”
Tina’s mother smiled. “I’m proud of you, Tina. You are truly the greatest helper queen ever!”