It's morning at the Read household and Jane Read is busy. She talks a pitcher out of the refrigerator and heads over to the sink, turning off some hot water that was running for dishes. She accidentally gets some on her shirtsleeve.
Mrs. Read: Ow.
She takes a kettle off the stove, then coughs and clutches her throat.
Mrs. Read: Oh, my throat.
Arthur Read: (entering the room) Mom! Where's my stripey shirt?!
Mrs. Read: Your what?
Arthur: (walking by Kate Read, who is smearing baby food on her head) My shirt. The green and white stripes. The one I always play softball in. It's not in my drawer.
Mrs. Read: (emptying the kettle) Uh, check the dryer.
Kate has spilled her food and is crying. Arthur checks the dryer, but...
Arthur: It's not in the dryer!
Mrs. Read: (cleaning up the spilled food, as Pal looks on hungrily) Check the washer!
Arthur: It's all wet! (heading back to the kitchen) What am I going to wear to the softball game?
Mrs. Read: (as the phone rings, and Pal sniffs her cloth hopefully) Sorry, Arthur. I guess I forgot to put it in the dryer. (picks up the phone) Hello?! ... Pal?!
Pal has picked up her cloth. Kate giggles at the sight. Mrs. Read starts playing tug-of-war with Pal for the cloth.
Mrs. Read: Hi, Mrs. Tibble! (Pal wins the tug-of-war.) Huh?! Oh, I completely forgot!
Arthur: Can I wear one of Dad's shirts? The one he got for Parents Day?
Mrs. Read: (grabbing the pitcher) Uh, sure.
Arthur: (raising his fists in triumph and exiting) Yeah!
Mrs. Read: Tell D.W. I'll be there in five minutes. Bye!
She hangs up and coughs again. Looking at her watch, she sighs, and pours the cup of coffee she has just poured herself into the dishwater.
Buster Baxter: "Is There a Doctor in the House?"
The Read family gathers for a family photo. As the camera flashes, Baby Kate wails in alarm.
The Read family has gathered for dinner. Everyone is present, including Pal, once again hovering around the table. Arthur is sharing an anecdote from his day.
Arthur: Then I hit the ball over the fence. I've never ever done that. That's how I know your shirt is lucky.
Mr. Read: You were wearing my Parents Day shirt?
Arthur: I thought my stripey shirt was lucky.
Mr. Read: Why were you wearing my Parents Day shirt? I hope you're gonna wash it.
The camera shows Mrs. Read, who is not looking well at all. She uses her fork to fiddle with one of her peas. Arthur and Mr. Read continue their conversation.
Arthur: Your shirt is way lucky.
Mr. Read: It's a nice shirt, Arthur. It's pima cotton.
D.W.: Timmy and Tommy have paper bag puppet friends and they said they're only $19.95. You can color them. They're educational. Can I have one, please?
Baby Kate holds out some of her food for Pal, who yaps and leaps.
D.W.: Can I please? Please? Please?
Mrs. Read imagines the members of her family as painted clowns. Mr. Read is playing a trumpet.
D.W.: Please? Please?
Mrs. Read: Can't we just have a little peace and quiet for once?
Even Pal looks shocked. He whimpers and runs out of the room.
Mrs. Read: (moans) Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong. I just haven't been feeling myself all day.
She coughs. The scene changes to her in bed, with a thermometer in her mouth. Mr. Read removes it.
Mr. Read: Yup, you've got a fever. Congratulations, Mrs. Read, you've earned yourself a couple of days of bed-rest.
Arthur, D.W. and Baby Kate are shown, looking concerned.
Mrs. Read: (sniffles) I'm sure I'll be fine by morning. I know you're catering that tea tomorrow.
Mr. Read: You just concentrate on getting better.
He walks away and joins the others.
Arthur: Yeah, Mom, don't worry. We'll take care of everything.
D.W. waves and Mr. Read turns off the light. Mrs. Read yawns and settles down to sleep. Night turns to day and Mrs. Read emerges from her room, wearing a white robe. She coughs and observes the goings-on in her household. Mr. Read is cutting up a sandwich. D.W. has a paper bag puppet she made.
D.W.: I call this one "Baginnini." He sings, la la la, de doo la de...
Baby Kate cries and Mr. Read shushes her.
Mr. Read: Hey, look who's up. How'd you sleep? Are you feeling better?
Baby Kate knocks over a bowl of her food again. Mrs. Read winces.
Arthur: Mom, do you want a maple doughnut?
D.W.: Look what I made! Isn't is good? Look.
Mrs. Read looks around at the sink piled with dirty dishes & cookware and the other general chaos.
Mrs. Read: (sighs) No.
She walks away.
Mr. Read: Don't worry. As soon as I get back from catering the tea party, I'm gonna clean this house. Come on, Kate, time for your nap.
He leaves the room. D.W. addresses Arthur, who is eating cake.
D.W.: Arthur, I'm worried about Dad.
Arthur: (turning to her) Why? He's not sick.
D.W.: Yeah, but he can't clean the whole house by himself. It takes Mom almost all day to clean the house and look. It's already that time.
She surveys the mess. The clock flickers over from 3:29 to 3:30.
D.W.: What if Mom is sick for a couple of days? The house will just keep getting dirtier.
Pal licks at the bowl on the ground. It gleams. It's clean, at least, in a way.
D.W.: There'll be no clean dishes. The dust bunnies will be hopping around everywhere. We'll be living in a pigstew!
Arthur: It's pigsty, D.W. But you're right. He could use some help.
Mr. Read: I'm leaving! I'll be back in a few hours. Stay out of trouble.
He leaves and the scene changes to show D.W. removing some clothes from the washer.
D.W.: Wait. Mom always folds laundry first.
She starts carefully folding the laundry. Upstairs, the television is playing a soap opera.
Rabbit-man: I have something to confess to you. I'm not Sheldon.
Rabbit-woman: You're not? Then who are you?
Not Sheldon: I'm Shelby, Sheldon's twin. I should have told you sooner, Karen.
Arthur is watching this as he vacuums the floor.
Rabbit-woman: I'm not Karen. I'm Kara. Karen's my undercover name.
Kara: Yes. I'm with the police. I'm supposed to arrest you, but I can't. I love you, Sheldon.
Shelby: I'm Shelby, Karen.
Kara: Kara. Call me Kara.
As this titillating drama continues to play out, Arthur continues to vacuum, but he accidentally vacuums up some paper clips. The vacuum is starting to smoke. He shuts it off and meets D.W., who is just arriving upstairs.
Arthur: All done with the vacuuming. How's the laundry going?
The scene shows that things are perhaps not quite so great. Several articles of clothing have been strewn behind D.W. on the basement stairs. Pal grabs one of Mr. Read's shirts and starts growling and tugging on it. In the bathroom, D.W. repeatedly tries to hang up a pair of Mr. Read's pajamas and fails. Outside, Pal digs in the sandbox, covering Mr. Read's shirt.
D.W.: (still trying to hang in the robe) Stay! ... Hmph!
Pal buries the shirt. D.W. cuts a hole in the back of the pajamas so that she can hang them. Arthur loads the dishwasher with dishes that have been in no way pre-rinsed. He then hears Baby Kate crying. He turns on the dishwasher and heads upstairs to join D.W.
Arthur: What's wrong with Kate?
D.W.: I don't know. I was just making Daddy's pajamas stay on the hook in the bathroom and she started crying.
Arthur has a suspicion. He sniffs.
D.W.: That's your job.
Arthur: Why's it my job? You've seen Mom change her just as many times as I have.
D.W.: You're older.
Arthur: So? You're closer to Kate's age. You probably remember how it's done.
Baby Kate kicks her legs and wails.
D.W.: Okay, we'll shoot for it.
She holds out her fist for a game of rock-paper-scissors.
Arthur and D.W.: Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!
Both of them land on scissors. This continues for at least fifteen minutes according to an alarm clock, until...
Arthur: (raising his hands in victory) Paper beats rock! I win again!
D.W.: Come on! Best of 35!
Arthur: Hey, D.W., look. (Baby Kate is asleep.)
D.W.: We can't change her now. It'll wake her up.
They creep out of the room. Back downstairs, they are watching The Bionic Bunny Show together.
D.W.: You know, doing all those chores wasn't so bad.
Arthur: Yeah. I don't know why Mom and Dad are always complaining that they're so busy. It only took us a few hours.
D.W.: I can't wait to see Daddy's face when he sees all the work we did.
Mr. Read is in fact arriving home as they speak. He observes his shirt in the sandbox. Inside...
Mr. Read: Why was my shirt buried in the yard?
D.W.: Oh. That's where it was. Arthur's crazy dog must have stolen it. I couldn't find it when I was putting your clothes away.
Mr. Read: You were putting my clothes away?
Arthur: Uh-huh. We did all the housework for you. D.W. did the laundry, I did the dishes...
Mr. Read: Um... is something burning?
Arthur: Oh, that's just the vacuum cleaner. Something happened to it when I was vacuuming the den.
Mr. Read: (poking a screwdriver in the vacuum cleaner) You have to pick up the big pieces by hand before you vacuum. (extracts a chain of paper clips, sighs) Oh. I'll fix it in the morning.
He grabs a cup from the dishwasher and fills it with water, but it's filthy.
Mr. Read: Ugh! Did you scrape the dishes and close the little detergent door in the dishwasher?
Arthur: Um, I'm not sure.
Baby Kate wails. Upstairs, she makes pleasant baby babble as Mr. Read changes her diaper.
Arthur: We were gonna change her, but then she fell asleep.
Mr. Read: (disposing of the dirty diaper) That's okay. It was nice of you to try to help. (coughs) I don't feel so great. I think I'll get into my pajamas and hit the hay. (He grabs Kate and moves her to her crib.)
D.W.: What about dinner?
Mr. Read: There are leftover finger sandwiches in the fridge. (He leaves the room, sneezing.)
Arthur: I guess we didn't do as good a job as we thought.
D.W.: You mean you didn't. Daddy didn't say anything about the laundry.
Arthur looks annoyed, but then...
Mr. Read: Who cut a hole in my pajamas?!
D.W. looks caught out. Scene change. It is now late night and it is most definitely a dark and stormy one. Rain is pouring and lightning is flashing. Arthur is tossing in bed when he sees a shadow on the wall. He screams out, but the shadow is actually from D.W.'s toy Mary Moo-Cow, as she has just entered the room.
D.W.: I'm scared. Can I get in with you? I don't wanna wake Mom and Dad.
Arthur: Okay. (shakes his head) But not with the cow.
D.W.: Mary's scared too.
Arthur sighs, but he lifts up his cover so that D.W. can get up on the bed with him. She cuddles in.
D.W.: Arthur, what if Mom and Dad aren't better by tomorrow?
Arthur: You heard what Mom said. Grandma Thora is coming over. She'll help with the housework.
D.W.: (getting up) But what if they don't get better for a long time? (Arthur yawns.) Grandma can't come every day. She's got bingo on Friday and her summer aerobics class and...
Arthur: Go to sleep, D.W.
She does. Arthur does too and the scene transitions to a fantasy sequence. Arthur enters the Read household from the pouring rain wearing a suit.
Arthur: Hi, D.W.! I'm home!
D.W.: I'm at the computer! How was the wedding?
Arthur: I was fired again.
D.W. pounds her fists on the keyboard. The house is a mess.
Arthur: Boy, the catering business is tough when you only know how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
D.W.: Hey, you got the easy job! You think it's easy being an accountant when you can't count past ten?
She holds up a paper showing the equation 6 + 6. Below it, 5 and 3 are crossed out, but amazingly, she did get the correct answer: 12.
Arthur: Are Mom and Dad feeling any better today?
They hear sounds of heavy coughing from upstairs.
D.W.: Does that answer your question? Oh, by the way, I sent Kate to the orphanage.
Arthur: (the camera focuses on his face as lightning flashes and thunder crashes) What?!
D.W.: We just couldn't take care of her, Arthur. She deserves to be in a place where they change her diapers.
Arthur: That's true. Besides, it's one less mouth to feed. But I sure will miss her.
D.W.: (voice breaking) Me too. If only we had paid attention to all the work Mom and Dad do. Maybe we could have run the house better.
Arthur: I know! We're terrible parents!
They both sob dramatically. The dream sequence ends. They both wake up.
Arthur: I had the weirdest nightmare.
D.W.: Me too.
They hear Kate wailing.
Arthur and D.W.: Kate!
They head into her room.
D.W.: Should we get Mom and Dad?
Arthur: I don't know. If they don't get enough sleep, they might not get better, and...
D.W.: I'll get the clothespins!
Clothespins on their noses, they change her diaper together.
Arthur: This isn't so bad.
In the kitchen, D.W. is feeding Kate. Arthur is at the sink.
Arthur: I'm just gonna clean the dishes before breakfast.
Kate is fussy and knocks down her food.
D.W.: I'll get the sponge mop.
She sponges it up. Arthur empties the mop water. D.W. cleans Kate up and Arthur washes the dishes. D.W. dries. They do the laundry together. They take out the trash together. D.W. lifts the lid, Arthur puts the trash bag in, and D.W. lowers the lid. They give each other a high-five. They put together a breakfast tray.
Arthur: I'll just bring Mom and Dad their breakfast and then we'll clean the...
D.W.: Why do you get to take it up to them?
Arthur: Because it's too heavy for you.
D.W.: (grabbing at it) No it isn't. I can do it!
Arthur: Let go, D.W.!
D.W.: Let go! You're gonna spill it!
Arthur: No, you let go!
D.W.: You let go! (They stop at hearing Grandma Thora's voice.)
Grandma Thora: Why don't we all take it up to them? But first, let's just see the state of affairs here. Your father said there was a dishwasher full of dirty dishes.
Arthur: Yeah, because I forgot to scrape the plates and close the little detergent door.
Grandma Thora: (opening the dishwasher door) So, where are they?
Arthur: We washed them all by hand this morning.
Grandma Thora: Really? Okay, well, let's just give Kate a fresh diaper.
D.W.: We already did that too.
Grandma Thora looks slightly astonished. The scene changes to Mr. and Mrs. Read's room, where Mr. and Mrs. Read are enjoying their breakfast in bed and D.W. is sitting on the bed looking pleased.
Grandma Thora: They folded the laundry, they emptied the trash, and the house is spic and span. I don't see why you two felt you needed to call in the reserves. Arthur and D.W. run a very tight ship.
Arthur, standing next to Grandma Thora, looks happily at her.
Mrs. Read: I guess we've trained them well.
Mr. Read: Yeah. Maybe we should get sick more often.
D.W. giggles. The scene changes to show Arthur and D.W. returning the tray to the kitchen.
Arthur: Wow. It's not even noon and I'm already wiped out.
D.W.: (sitting at the table, bags under her eyes) Me too. Running this house is hard work. At least we only have to deal with two sick people and not...
But Arthur has started sneezing.
D.W.: (facepalms) Oh, no!
The "here we go again" music plays. Arthur uses a dishcloth to blow his nose, and the show ends.