The Butler Did It

By Janice Graham

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(Based on a true incident)Mother, I love you; mother I do. I want to help you because I love you. (Children’s Songbook, page 207.)

It’s the same every Mother’s Day. I ask my mom what I can give her, she stops what she’s doing, takes my face in her hands, smiles her what-a-wonderful-boy-you-are-smile, and says, “A poem and a kiss. That’s all I need.”

Well, that always sounds pretty wimpy to me. I mean, a guy in sixth grade just doesn’t go for that mushy stuff. I usually end up giving her one of my drawings. But this particular Mother’s Day had to be different. Mom needed something bigger than a poem, something better than a kiss, and something bolder than a drawing.

Dad lost his job a couple months ago. He’s been looking hard for a new one and doing freelance work whenever he can get it, but Mom always looks worried. She’s been substituting at the elementary school for a teacher who just had a baby. The fifth grade class is noisy and rowdy, and she comes home real tired. Then she has to cook dinner and do laundry and make phone calls for her Church calling. This was no ordinary Mother’s Day. I had to think up an awesome present.

I was watching an old movie on TV, when I got an idea. A great idea! I checked out my wardrobe and decided I had what I needed. I did a little practicing in front of the mirror and figured I could pull it off. I was all set. Not only would my present help Mom out, but it would make her laugh, too.

It was the Saturday morning before Mother’s Day. I had already told my friends that I wouldn’t be joining them for our usual bike ride. I got up pretty early for a change, and instead of putting on a T-shirt and jeans, I put on a white dress shirt, my dark Sunday suit, and my Sunday shoes. I wet my hair and slicked it back. I stood up straight, threw back my shoulders, stuck out my chin, and walked up to Mom, who was putting a load of dirty clothes in the washing machine. I never thought it would be so hard to keep a smile off my face. But I had to.

“Madam,” I said in a formal voice, my eyebrows raised. “I am Andrews, your Butler-for-the-Day.”

Mom looked up from her work with a start. “Andy! You’re all dressed up! Where in the world are you going? Is there a funeral? What was that you said?”

“What I said, Madam,” I replied in my most stately manner, “is that I am your Mother’s Day Butler.” I bowed slightly, just like the guy in the movie. No smiling allowed, I told myself.

Mom was speechless, so I continued, “You may call me Andrews. This entire day I will be at your complete disposal. You have merely to ask, and I will immediately carry out your orders. Your wish is my command.” Now I was sounding more like a movie genie, but Mom didn’t seem to notice. She hadn’t laughed like that in weeks, which made it even harder not to smile.

“Are you serious?” Mom asked when she regained control of herself.

“Sure I am—I mean—most assuredly, Madam. What will you have me do first?”

“This is such a treat!” Mom exclaimed. “How about, … well, … would you mind setting the table for breakfast?”

“Certainly, Madam,” I said. Giving her another bow, I went to work.

“What’s Andy doing, Mom?” I heard my twin sisters ask. They were being total pests, as usual. “Why is he wearing his Sunday clothes?”

“Yeah, what’s up, Andy?” said Dad, coming in from the garage.

“Andrews is my Butler-for-the-Day,” Mom proclaimed like the queen of the world.

My sisters stared holes in me while I poured the orange juice. I guess they weren’t used to seeing me help in the kitchen. My next job was to pull weeds in the front yard. Not a very distinguished, butler-type job, but I did it anyway, even though my Sunday shoes got caked with mud. Mom was really taking this thing seriously!

I had promised myself that no matter what Mom asked me to do, I would do it in true butler style, without a wince. It wasn’t hard, really. She wanted the furniture rearranged and the carpet vacuumed. As long as I had the vacuum out, she said I could clean under the sofa cushions. I crawled on the floor and polished the table and chair legs. I climbed the ladder and dusted the ceiling fan. I hefted overloaded laundry baskets and put clothes away. If the doorbell rang, I hurried to answer it in my formal manner and announced visitors. I picked up the phone before it had a chance to ring twice, and I made some of Mom’s calls for her. Mom smiled and giggled over everything I did. I merely bowed and said, “What further service would Madam wish?” Then she’d smile again.

She kept me busy just about all day. I didn’t slow down until she did, which was after dinner. I put a white dish towel over my arm and served ice water on the porch to her and Dad while they watched the sunset.

“That will be all, Andrews,” said Mom, faking an English accent. Then she laughed and acted like her regular self. “Andy, this was the best Mother’s Day present I’ve ever had. I feel like I’ve had a vacation! I didn’t even have to answer the phone all day!” She let out a big sigh. “I can’t tell you how good it feels to be caught up with my housework—and to have such a willing worker!”

“Very good, Madam,” I said. “Will that be all?” I didn’t want to break character while I was still in costume. Mom chuckled and then regally waved me away. “I sure love you!” she called after me, as I hurried to get my Sunday clothes clean for the next day.

The “real” Mother’s Day, Sunday, was a pretty good one. Mom was relaxed and happy. In sacrament meeting, she kept smiling at me with a double-mushy, wonderful-boy look. At home, every two minutes she raved about her Butler-for-the-Day. She kept saying how she could feel the spirit of the Sabbath day so much better in an orderly house.

The twins, however, stared at me with something less than stars in their eyes. They had gone the poem-and-a-kiss route.

“I wish I’d thought of that butler thing,” one of them said.

“Well, I know what I’m going to do,” the other one said. “I’m going to ask Mom if I can be her lady’s maid all day next Saturday.”

“I have dibs on the next Saturday! Let’s dress up and call her mum, and curtsy!”

They ran up to the attic to look for a costume. Once my sisters get an idea, there’s no stopping them, even if it’s somebody else’s. But if they want to steal my idea and be lady’s maids, that’s fine with me. Being Butler-for-the-Day was pretty strenuous. Once a year is about all Andrews can handle. But I guess Andy could help out a little more regularly. Only I’m not wearing a suit to do it—no way!

Illustrated by Mark Robison