My daughter has a new maid. He’s four, he’s fast, and he’ll clean her room for the low, low price of a sticker.

This evening I found my darling first grader sitting cross-legged on top of her chest of drawers dictating short instructions to her little brother, or should I say, her humble serf.

“Put this in the closet. Put that on my bed. Pick that up and put it in my drawer. If you do, you’ll get another sticker!”

And to my amazement, he did it! Command after command, my preschooler dutifully obeyed. Then he approached his queen with a bow and a reverent “yes, your majesty…” and she placed another sticker on his pajamas.  He was happy. She was happy. I’m not so sure I was, but I was caught so off-guard, I wasn’t sure what to do. My eyes found “her majesty’s” and I raised my eyebrows inquisitively.

“I have a maid!!!” she squealed in a stage whisper.

With a simple sheet of stickers from her stocking, my princess had solved her messy room problem. The manner in which she did it was a tad disconcerting, but I left them alone to make my other laundry deliveries around the house.

Hmmm…So where are my stickers? How come when I announce generous rewards, nobody moves with the enthusiasm I saw in my little boy last night? Then it occurred to me. She’s made it a game. My daughter sat herself on a throne and drew an image in her little brother’s mind. Brilliant.

Maybe tomorrow morning my kids will find me seated on top of the refrigerator donning a tiara and scepter. I will unfurl their lists of chores, uh, I mean, death-defying feats, and promise to dub them all knights once the mess dragon has been slain.

Think it will work? If it doesn’t, I’ll just improvise as the dragon.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, free-lance writer, returned missionary and mother of four small children. You can read more at