Fan Fiction - Written by Paul Austin - Television Universe

Stephanie, Head of the Class
Written by: Paul Austin

A story about Stephanie as an Australian-style Principal's Assistant, and how a girl like Stephanie might wind up molding such a role in a progressive district like those in the San Francisco area, as that area is full of people who will experiment with lots of different things; they think outside the box.

I don't do lots with the TV series friends like Aaron, I know more about the book friends, but this is a sequel of sorts to "A Pinch for a Pinch," it shows exactly how steph could have had to listen to Michelle tap dance during school when they wouldn't have the same lunch, recess, or be in the same part of the building ("The Legend of Ranger Joe"), and also explains why Michelle, at only 5.5, doesn't get in even more trouble while on the plane during their impromptu accidental flight to New Zealand.

This has been changed a little, because the DVDs show Michelle's brash attitude continued almost until the end of season 6; it's then, not early to middle season 5, that she stops saying "duh" almost entirely. Given her sometimes brash attitude, combined with the mens' leniency, RKORadio felt something like this could still have happened. I provided the original time frame and helped with ideas on how to tie it in with other episodes (as he'd only seen a few dozen) after this while editing it since he's again busy with college, he provided the notes and idea, and then I wrote a good amount of it. It's one of his first stories, as he hadn't been writing for as long as I have when we came up with this in 2002.

I tried not to edit too much, but as said, Steph helping Michelle is more gradual, and it covers the timeline as it's now apparent, with "The Devil Made Me Do It" in April because of the twins being fed solikds, and Michelle nuking her Gumby only a week before that.

The fourth grade class went excitedly over to the computers. Stephanie Tanner was perhaps the most thrilled of all. Mr. Lowry, her teacher, had called her a "delightful helper" at the last parent-teacher conference. In fact, at that conference, her dad - Danny Tanner - had boasted that, "My head swelled up so big from hearing reports about you girls, I almost couldn't fit it in the door when I got home."

The discovery groups were so much fun, they made learning fun for even the most difficult kids, it seemed. Stephanie was glad Michelle wasn't like those kids. Michelle was her nearly five-year-old sister, and she had just been anxious for anyone to like her the first day of Kindergarten. Now, a month into school, she seemed to be loving it. Maybe a bit too much; she'd been tap dancing all the way to school with the tap shoes Stephanie passed down to her. But, she loved it.

"Oh, boy," Stephanie said, rolling her eyes as she spied a messenger walking in the door of Mr. Lowry's classroom. "Don't tell me; Michelle sent someone else to see me," she muttered to nobody in particular.

Michelle had done that quite a bit. She called Stephanie a "genius" for helping her make friends her first day of Kindergarten. So, she started sending all sorts of problems to Stephanie - playground disputes, even a few small discipline problems. Because of Michelle's hype, lots of kids were looking to her fior help.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Lowry," Stephanie said sincerely. "I try to tell Michelle not to do this..."

"Oh, it's quite all right. It sounds like she really idolizes you," he said as he took the note. "Apparently the teacher needs your help with her."

Stephanie didn't say anything, but she felt like saying, "Who do they think I am, Dear Abby?" Instead, she said, "I see. What seems to be the problem?"

"Michelle's tap dancing like crazy and it's driving us bananas," the student messenger said.

"Would you like to go calm your sister down?" Mr. Lowry asked. "It would probably help, that way the teacher can teach; it's too little a problem for the principal to handle, after all."

Stephanie agreed. "I'll be right back; try not to teach anything really interesting," she quipped, just as she had that first day.

Mr. Lowry had been so proud of her then. He knew it was very hard for children their first day of Kindergarten, and could tell Stephanie was a wonderful, compassionate big sister. He'd heard stories about how nice a student she was even before, and had been thankful when he learned he'd have her in his class. He hadn't realized she had a younger sister coming into Kindergarten then, but learned right away when Michelle crawled into the classroom and hid behind Stephanie's desk.

He'd allowed Stephanie to walk her back, and had heard later about how Stephanie had helped. It seemed like something little, but when Michelle started suggesting more kids come to Stephanie, he'd sensed Stephanie was a real leader.

Stephanie sighed as she walked down to Michelle's classroom. She was very thankful to have a teacher who supported this...well, this unique situation like Mr. Lowry did. He'd told her about his time as an exchange student in Australia when he was in high school; he'd learned while there that they had Principal's Assistants in elementary school. These were girls who handled discipline, counseling, and other things so the principal could handle more administrative functions, and teachers could teach. And, he'd told Stephanie that she seemed like the type they would use down under.

She just wondered how such girls ever did it. And yet, as Michelle stood outside the classroom with her teacher, Miss Wiltrout, she saw not only a sister who seemed to have faith in her, but also a teacher whose look seemed to say, "I know you can help."

"I'm sorry to bother you, Stephanie, but Michelle has been wanting to tap dance all day, and it has been getting a bit tedious. I'm having trouble getting her to calm down, maybe you could talk to her a second; I don't want to bother the principal for something this little, but still..." Miss Wiltrout said, trailing off. She knew it was hard for Kidnergarteners to control themselves at times, and yet also knew she couldn't take her whole time with just one kid. And yet, Michelle was usually very well behaved, too, at school; and even at home, she was a lot better than she had been at this time last year, which was around when their dad started punishing for the first time; it had always been D.J. till then.

Stephanie stood in front of Michelle and made her look her in the eye. "Michelle, why are you tap dancing; you're supposed to keep your feet on the ground!"

"Then why did you give me these shoes? Michelle gave hre a look.

Stephanie halted her before a "duh" could appear. "Michelle, listen to me. I know it's hard, but you have got to learn to control yourself. You are a big girl; I know you're not 5 yet, but Daddy put you in Kindergarten because he knows your'e a big girl."

"But, why can't I be a big girl who tap dances?" She began to tap dance again, still Stephanie picked her up. "Hey, my feet aren't tapping now."

"They're not supposed to tap in school!" Stephanie scolded, beginning a mini-lecture about respecting others. "Other people do not want to hear you tap dance. You may tap dance at recess but that is all!" She sighed. "Look, Michelle, I had a similar problem. I talked all the time in Kindergarten. But, I prided myself on being good,a nd I knew I had to control myself. So, I started trying, harder and harder. I told myself, 'Stephanie, there's a time to talk, and a time to be quiet. And I know this is the time to be quiet.'"

"Were you?"

"Usually. But the thing is, when I want, I got in trouble. I had to sit with my head down when the other kids went home, or even during recess!" she said in a threatening voice. "You would hate that, wouldn't you!"

"But recess is for fun."

"Exactly. Recess is for fun. But, when you're naughty, you don't get to have fun. Just like at home. If you're bad, you get sent to your room, right?"She agreed. Stephanie talked a bit more with her, and finally said, "I never got in trouble again after that one time staying in from recess and writing sentences. You know why? Because that was my limit; I did not want that to happen again. Now, you don't want me to..." Stephanie stopped herself. What was she saying? "Well, you don't' want yelled at again, right?" She shook her head. "Good. Then it's settled - no more tap dancing till recess or on the way home. Got it?"

"Got it. Boy, Stephanie, you sure are smart. I'm glad you know so much." She looked around. "Maybe you should be in charge of this place."

Stephanie laughed. "That's all I need." And yet, as she thought more about it, she realized that maybe she could handle even more. The idea was starting to become appealing to her. "One more thing, Michelle."

"What's that."

"Remember what D.J.'s always said, even if Dad and the others don't enforce it. Never say 'duh' or anything when you're being corrected. That's really wrong."

"Okay. You know best." They hugged, and suddenly Stephanie felt ten feet tall. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to be at the head of things.

About a month later, Stephanie's friend Harry input his selections for the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, deploying troops and making strategic decisions in the computer simulation. He and Stephanie, along with a couple other children, were in one of a number of "discovery groups." On this day, the third after Christmas break, they were completing a series begun before break about the Civil War, and learning about the intricacies of the largest battle ever fought on the North American continent.

As he and several other discovery group leaders input ideas on their computers, Stephanie smiled proudly at the memory of her dad's excitement. Her mom had died 4 " years ago, leaving their dad, her, older sister D.J., 14, and younger sister Michelle, who had turned five in November.

It had been rough, but soon their Uncle Jesse - Danny's brother-in-law - moved in, along with their dad's best friend, Joey, a comedian and kid at heart. Jesse had married their Aunt Becky about a year ago, and the couple had recently had twin babies.

Michelle was in Kindergarten already. Danny pampered her like a princess sometimes, it seemed to Stephanie. But, she seemed bright enough, and her age hadn't been much of a problem. As long as her good attitude continued, it probably wouldn't be. That normally wouldn't have been much of a concern for a girl about to turn ten, but she and D.J. had talked with Michelle quite a bit about certain things, like her bossy or rude attitude. The men wouldn't correct her for things like rudeness, but D.J. or Steph would. So, while D.J. did it for the most part - at least the part where she'd send Michelle to her room before Danny had been willing - Stephanie had borne some of the responsibility for teaching Michelle things, such as tricking her once to show her how bad lying was. And, of course, both had sought to make Michelle feel proud to be nice and polite.

"Stephanie, would you please pass out the battle plans?" Mr. Lowry requested.

"Certainly, Sir." Stephanie graciously took the papers from her teacher, and placed one on each child's desk.

Mr. Lowry explained how each student would receive a printout of what they'd chosen to do each day of the battle to compare with what Mr. Lowry was about to show them really happened.

As he explained, he felt thankful to have a girl like Stephanie in her class. She was always nice and polite, and even if she messed up, as all kids did, she was humble and obedient. He wished all kids could be like her.

For her part, Stephanie hoped that Michelle would today. She would have her first male sub teaching, Stephanie had learned after she'd gotten to her class. She shook her concerns off quickly, though. She remembered D.J.'s words - expect them to be good. It was something their mom, Pam, had said a few times, D.J. had told her. And Michelle usually was good.

Meanwhile, in Michelle's class, Mr. Rea was trying to keep track of his class while they did crafts. He was in his first year of teaching, and had done okay so far. But, Aaron Bailey was causing a bit of a problem, it seemed, though he hadn't been able to pin anything on him. With morning recess coming, maybe while the children were outside playing he would have time then to look into the question of what Aaron had been doing sneaking around.

While the teacher's back was turned, Aaron threw a spitwad at Michelle. Then another.

"Stop it," she cried, raising her hand. "Teacher, Aaron's throwing stuff at me."

Mr. Rea turned and looked at Aaron. "Aaron, if I catch you throwing something again you'll have to stay in from recess this morning. I don't want you to have to do that, and I'm sure you don't either."

Aaron made a face behind the teacher's back, and threw a bigger, grosser spitwad this time. It stuck in Michelle's strawberry blonde ponytail. "Gross," she muttered.

After another, she picked up the bottle of glue she'd been holding and heaved it at Aaron, barely missing his head. "Maybe this will make my Stop it' stick," she reprimanded him as the teacher turned to see what was happening.

"Oh yeah? Take that," Aaron cried, throwing his own glue bottle. Michelle responded by tossing a crayon at Aaron, who responded by overturning a chair and his desk toward Michelle as the teacher got between the two combatants before Michelle could tip too much toward Aaron

"Aaron Bailey, you are not Bobby Knight!" the teacher reprimanded, referring to the Indiana coach suspended for a game for tossing a chair onto the court several years before. "And I would tell Coach Knight the same thing I'm telling each of you - you will both clean up your messes, and you must spend the morning recess period seated at separate tables with your heads down!"

"He started it," Michelle complained.

"It doesn't matter who started it. You do not have to respond. Now this floor looks like the battlefield at Gettysburg. Besides, you could have hurt him if that bottle of glue had hit him in the head!"

"I tried to miss," Michelle responded somewhat contritely. "You're tougher than my daddy." The teacher tried for a moment to think of a response. Finally, he folded his arms and said, "I find it very hard to believe that your father would let you act like that."

"Are you going to call for my sister Stephanie?" Michelle said in a submissive voice. The teacher normally wouldn't have done what Michelle said, but this was a unique situation, the kind he supposed he had accepted when he'd come to a big city to teach. He knew of families where the kids were allowed to talk really mean to their parents, too, though he didn't want to say that; it could make her bolder. So, if it was true, he would send a note home for Mr. Tanner.

He decided to call her bluff, give her time to back down, and if Stephanie said she wasn't allowed, he'd reprimand her and possibly keep Michelle in from lunch recess, too, if she wasn't remorseful, just like morning recess..

"All right, tell me where Stephanie is," he commanded. "At this point I'm not sure how to handle you, but perhaps your sister will know."

"She's in Mr. Lowry's class." Mr. Rea asked another girl to take a note to Mr. Lowry requesting to see Stephanie. One he wrote it, he gave it to her and asked her to retrieve Stephanie.

Mr. Lowry was about to demonstrate on the computer screens what really happened on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. All monitors were now connected to the central unit he was controlling, so the kids could see the simulation. Stephanie especially waited with breathless anticipation. She always seemed to get excited about things.

Out of the blue, Mr. Lowry called Stephanie to the front of the class. She made herself hide the frustration at having to wait - it's just like a commercial break, she told herself. Besides, they'd been taught who won - but it could easily go either way, from what they'd learned the first two days after Christmas break. And, the exciting presentation made some of the children forget who had actually won.

"Yes, Sir?" Stephanie said politely as she arrived. She just now noticed the Kindergarten classmate of Michelle's. "Didn't D.J. babysit for this girl a couple times," she asked herself.

"I have a note here from Mr. Rea. He's subbing for your sister Michelle's class. There was a problem between her and Aaron."

"She's okay, isn't she?" Stephanie asked hastily. She was slightly concerned. She knew Aaron had swiped a cookie and pinched Michelle last year, and seemed like a bit of a bully. She hoped he hadn't hurt her.

"She's fine, he just has a question," Mr. Lowry assured her, recalling how she'd helped Michelle before. Stephanie followed the other girl down to Michelle's classroom. In her classroom, Michelle was slowly picking up some of her things under the teacher's watchful eye. Aaron was, too. They kept casting somewhat angry looks at each other as they placed things on the table.

Stephanie strolled into the classroom and hurriedly said, "Good morning, Mr. Rea. I'm

Michelle's sister Stephanie. I hope nothing's wrong. I can't wait to get back to fourth grade and watch the dramatic, thrilling conclusion to the Battle of Gettysburg."

Michelle stood and said, "You should have seen our floor a minute ago."

"Quite a mess, huh?" Stephanie asked the teacher, tilting her head toward the mostly cleaned debris. She presumed that Aaron and Michelle had thrown those items which remained, and many more, at each other during their "disagreement."

Mr. Rea nodded. "Yes." He explained about the problem. Stephanie glared at Michelle, her blunt glare slowly and steadily increasing into a sharp, scolding look. "She told me she tried to miss, and that her dad isn't very tough even on behavior like this at home. Is that true?"

Stephanie relaxed her gazed as she looked at Mr. Rea. "Actually, it is, Sir. But," she said, glaring back at Michelle, "he does discipline, at least, and she has been talked to quite a bit about controlling herself by our older sister and I."

"In that case, will you talk to Michelle about that. I don't want to cause any problems, but it is important that she learn to control herself," Mr. Rea said. He could sense that Stephanie would likely correct the girl, hopefully without too much of a problem. From his experience, it would probably have a better effect than anything he could do, and he really didn't want to be sending kids to the principal all the time. He had to learn to be creative, he felt, and come up with ideas himself. He was in charge, after all.

"I will; first, may I ask, was she polite about it? She didn't say 'duh' or anything, did she?"

"No, she didn't."

Stephanie gave her a broad smile for a second. "Some of our lessons are getting through very well, at least. I think just a long, maybe slightly loud talk about controlling herself will do. If you'll excuse us," she said, taking Michelle's hand and walking toward the door with her.

"By all means. Michelle, go out in the hall with your sister," the teacher commanded. Though they were only in Kindergarten, some of the students had already learned that habit when one gets in trouble of shouting "awwwwwww." The "awww"s continued as Stephanie met Michelle at the door, and placed a hand on her back while marching her into the hall.

She didn't enjoy the thought of reprimanding her sister. She hated to see anyone's feelings hurt.

But, she also disliked misbehavior at school. Stephanie could get a little wild at home, but even there she tried to be good. And, at school, she was always well behaved. At least Michelle had been respectful, or she'd have really gotten loud. Even as it was, these attributes were combined with how tough she often was, especially on herself. The more sensitive in the class could already sense the normal tranquility and gentleness was about to be replaced with a loud lecture.

Aaron clapped his hands and ran toward the door. "About time a girl gets in trouble for a change." He turned to one of his friends as the teacher instructed them to return to their seats.

"Of course, her sister's a girl, too. She'll probably come in here crying like a baby, and her sister will hardly say a word," Aaron teased.

Michelle was troubled as she met Stephanie in the hall. She frowned as she gazed straight forward into Stephanie's upper chest, then gazed slowly up into the angry face. She'd expected

Stephanie to stick up for her. She knew it wasn't nice to say "duh," but at least Stephanie would agree that Dad let her, and that was all, right?

Stephanie heard a still, small voice from deep inside calmly reminding her to "Use your words when you're angry." The voice sounded something like D.J.'s, a tinge like their Dad's, and still even some of it was like a voice from Stephanie's distant past, her mother, Pam, whom she mostly remembered after so long as having given her her greatest treasure, a stuffed animal known as Mr. Bear.

She didn't need that voice much here - but if Michelle had said "duh" to the teacher, she would have really been irate.

"I can't believe you threw that bottle of glue at someone! How rude!' Stephanie scolded, beginning a stern lecture.

"I'm sorry, Stephanie," she said, sniffling. "Am I in big trouble?"

"Let me put it this way! You're lucky you didn't say 'duh' like you sometimes do to him, or else!" Stephaie reprimanded. Already, several students in the classroom - and the one across the hall - cowered a little. Aaron picked all the other items off the floor quickly, as told himself that this girl must know just what her younger sister needs, even if that did sound a little loud. He'd grown up in Iowa, and was used to small communities where a teacher might use an older sibling to help calm a very young one in school, or at times to help keep them in line.

" D.J. and I have told you many times about how to behave nicely. We have showed you, we have talked with you, we have made you stay still until you replaced a you got it, Dude' with a Yes, Ma'am,' we have done all that for you, because we want you to grow into a nice young lady," Stephanie shouted, shaking her finger. Placing her hands on her hips, she exclaimed, "And that goes for more than just talking; it means what you do, too. That means not to throw things at someone even if they are doing it to you; you are supposed to go to someone in charge and get help.

"I may have disrupted the class trying to make them laugh when I got my glasses. But I went up to the teacher's desk, called her Ma'am,' politely accepted that I had to write sentences for her for the next day, and behaved after that! I may have been too caught up in calling Walter Duckface' to settle and behave, but I sat with my head down like a good girl when I was told to stay after school for it. I didn't think it was fair, but I did it. I got in trouble a lot when I was younger for talking in class, but I never once talked back to a teacher, and never got sent to the principal! Because I knew that when I was told to stop, I had to, and I did. I certainly wouldn't go throwing bigger suff at someone if they threw something at me!"

Michelle nodded slowly, and uttered a weak, "I'm sorry, Stephanie." She humbly apologized to the teacher for what she'd done. She walked over to her chair, and collapsed into it, weeping over the lecture as she put her head down and thought about what Stephanie had said. Nobody had ever yelled at her that way before!

However, noone else in the class paid attention to Michelle. Aaron had emptied his pockets. He was at the teacher's desk, looking anxiously at Stephanie.

"There, on the desk. That's all the lunch money I stole this morning. I just did it to have quarters for video games. I won't do it again, honest!" Aaron cried out. As Stephanie glared at him, he said, "Okay, okay, I threatened to beat one kid up if he didn't give me his. He can come get it right now, everyone can. I promise I won't hurt anyone." Aaron said.

After Stephanie glared another second, the bell rang for the class's morning recess to begin.

"Thanks. You shouldn't have to worry now, Sir. But if anyone gives you any more problems, you just let me know," Stephanie said, folding her arms. "Especially if this one does," she said with a menacing glare toward Aaron. She wanted to make sure Aaron didn't pick on Michelle like he had others.

The teacher nodded slowly. As he did so, Stephanie walked over to Michelle, and gave her a hug. "I love you," she said softly.

"I know, Stephanie," Michelle said sadly. Inside, she was scared of what might have happened had she said "duhhuh" to that teacher. Stephanie hadn't said what she'd do, but Michelle had heard how bad it was to get sent to the principal's office. Even though the principal wouldn't hit right away, she didn't know that. And, for most of the kids, they figured getting sent to the principal was a lot like getting sent to see Stephanie.

Stephanie and Walter ate together at lunch that day. Suddenly, a 5th grader walked up to her. " The word's really getting around."

"What word?"

"That you're the bogeyman. I volunteer as an aide in the principal's office. And, a couple kids were talking as I was delivering a message to one class. Especially some of the younger kids think they're going to get sent to you if they fight like they've been doing with the smaller kids. I guess a lot of kids talked at morning recess."

"Oh, brother," Stephanie said, resting her hand in her head. She wasn't sure what to think about this complication.

"Hey, don't feel bad. It's not something the principal would use a lot. But, it might be helping a class or two. And hey, being called Principal Stephanie' is better than Step On Me.'"

"She's got a point," Harry commented.

Stephanie sighed. "Yeah, I guess." As she ate, she decided that maybe it wasn't too bad.

Although, "It seemed a lot better when Michelle was just referring me for conflicts and stuff like that. I mean, I got a few discipline problems referred to me, but to be a full PA like in Australia? That would be a weird feeling."

As Jesse and his wife Becky gazed at their adorable twin boys in the bassinets on the coffee table later that day, Becky turned to Jesse and grinned. "You're going to be the proudest househusband."

"Yeah, I know. Problem is, when you go back to work on the show next week, I'm going to be even more like June Cleaver."

"Oh, honey, you will not turn into June Cleaver," Becky chided him. She looked at her watch.

"Do you have the cookies out of the oven? Wally and the Beave will be home soon." She chuckled at his sharp, yet dismayed, look. "I'm just teasing you, Jess."

"Don't do that. Besides, I baked cupcakes in honor of your return in five days, not cookies."

Stephanie and Michelle opened the door. Normally, they both enjoyed running over and grinning at the infants. This time, however, only Stephanie did. She was just glad Michelle wasn't angry at her for yelling so much. See seemed quite remorseful, in fact. She had been extra good the rest of the day.

"Hey, munchkin, what's wrong?" Jesse asked. He sat Michelle on his lap, and she buried her head in his chest. They'd been sharing problems with each other ever since before Michelle could talk, and Jesse would talk things out next to her in her crib. She was glad for someone nice to come home to, even though her dad was working.

Michelle sniffled as she thought of the lecture.

"Well, what happened; you didn't get sent to the principal's office, did you?"

"Worse. I got sent to see Stephanie."

"Why, what happened?" Jesse repeated.

Stephanie could tell Michelle didn't feel like telling everything. "You should have seen it - their floor looked like the battlefield at Gettysburg, because Aaron and Michelle tossed everything at each other. She was going to have to stay in from morning recess anyway. But, the teacher asked me to talk to her, and she seemed to excuse it a bit saying Dad doesn't correct her as much. Which is true, but D.J. and I do."

"Steph, you can see she knows how badly she behaved," Becky said lowly, placing a hand on her shoulder. "You don't have to go telling it like that."

"Yeah, now listen," Jesse said, tilting Michelle's head up to look her in the eye. "You take from someone who got sent to the principal a lot, you want to learn from your mistakes now, so you don't repeat them. Capiche?"


"That's good. Cause they're just trying to help you. And that Aaron, you just make sure a teacher knows if he's a problem. Cause he has to learn now, too, so he doesn't grow up to star in an episode of Cops on the wrong end," Jesse said. She nodded.

"Good," Jesse finished as D.J. and Kimmy walked in the door, "'cause you and I know Stephanie loves you very much, and she doesn't want you to be sent to her any more than you do."

"What? Michelle got sent where?" D.J. wondered as she set her books down on an end table.

"I was bad. I got sent to see Stephanie," Michelle said.

"Whoa. You mean Stephanie's the principal now?" Kimmy asked. Michelle nodded slowly.

Becky explained what happened. "Oh." Kimmy thought for a second, then smiled, trying to cheer Michelle up. "Well, squirt, just remember the old saying. I think Ben Franklin said it. The principal is your pal.'"

"Right, see," Stephanie said, sitting on the other side of Jesse from Michelle. "I'm still your buddy when I..." Her eyes grew wide, and she sat up very straight. "Wait a minute. I can't agree with Kimmy, can I? It could cause a paradox that could destroy the universe!"

"Besides, Kimmy, it's kind of his style of saying, but Benjamin Franklin didn't say the principal is your pal.' That's just a way to help you remember how to spell that kind of principal," D.J. explained.

Kimmy was slightly stunned. "Really? I always thought the spelling saying was the other way.

I guess that makes sense, though. I always wondered what a ple' was."

"You thought it was the principal is your ple? I feel much better now!" Stephanie declared.

Becky tried hard not to smile at the comical exchange. "Well, you know, it's not really all that unusual. Back home in Nebraska, in our small community it wasn't uncommon for families to have lots of kids. And, if one got really teary over something that happened, they might get sent to be with their older sibling for a while - like when you went to see Stephanie your first day of

Kindergarten," she told Michelle, who nodded, fondly remembering how Stephanie had helped her. "On the other hand, if one got in trouble, an older sibling could also be counted on to talk to them a little and make sure it didn't happen again. And, if you didn't have an older sibling, people were close enough you might have a kid who was like an older brother or sister, or maybe even a babysitter in my oldest sister's day, before they split the grade school into elementary and junior high. Things like that saved the principal a lot of headaches."

"And at least you don't have to worry about one of them giving you the ultimate like the principal could," D.J. spoke casually.

"Stephanie would," Michelle said timidly, shivering a bit inside at the thought of Stephanie's comment that she was lucky she hadn't said "duh" to that teacher. Stephanie had made it sound like that would be so bad...

"Huh?" Jesse turned from Michelle and put an arm around Stephanie. He didn't know quite how to respond; but, he wanted her to tell the truth. "Steph, you didn't...I mean, you know none of us believe in doing it, but...well, I know you've gotta be tough, in your position...what am I saying, you're not the principal. What I mean is you didn't hit her, did you?"

"No, Uncle Jesse. I wouldn't have, anyway, and I knew I was too mad right then." Stephanie hugged Michelle, too, and the kids went off to play for a while. Soon before supper, Danny and Joey entered the house. Michelle ran up to her dad right away, and got a huge hug. As Danny gazed warmly at his little princess, Michelle frowned.

"Daddy," she said lowly and regretfully. "I was bad in school today. I had to stay in from recess once. I'm sorry." "Oh, that's okay, honey." He hugged her and sat on the couch, seating her beside him. "What did you do?"

"Aaron and me threw stuff at each other. He started it, but the teacher made us both stay in,"

Michelle finished. She didn't even want to think about the lecture. Besides, knowing her dad, that part probably wouldn't matter, anyway.

"Do you know what you're going to do next time someone throws something at you?" She nodded. "Tell me."

"Make sure the teacher knows, and don't do it back," Michelle said with remorse. She'd spoken with Jesse about that part after returning home.

"That's right, honey. Okay, go play for a bit till dinner."

Danny joined Joey, Stephanie, Jesse, Becky, and D.J. in the kitchen. "Hey, Michelle told me what she did wrong right away. Did she tell you when she got home?"

"Yeah, Steph's the principal now," Joey remarked.

"What? When did this happen?"

"Well, Steph got in her face a bit with a lecture. And, it's a god thing, at least she got corrected now versus later. I guess there's a few kids who are thinkin' she's like the bogeyman now, so that's where her being like the principal comes in," Jesse finished.

"Well, I hope Michelle's not one of them!" Danny turned to Stephanie as they prepared salads for the meal. "Honey, you didn't have to say anything to your sister; and I'm sure she didn't need a lecture."

"Actually, I think Jesse's right," Joey said. Jesse looked with shock at Joey as the comedian continued - he'd never have expected the rarely serious Joey to agree with him. "There are all kinds of people whose orders we have to follow later in life. I mean, if a Martian says Take me to your leader,' and you don't take him to the President, what happens? He might zap you with a ray gun." He put an arm around Stephanie. "Today, our little Stephanie is principal - tomorrow she's going to be in the White House and straighten out everything in this country, because she knows how to be firm. Just remember, Steph, when it comes to symbols of the U.S. Navy, nobody beat Popeye.

And make sure to care for military families, too - after all, Popeye had to have some help to raise his adopted Swee'Pea."

"I don't believe it - this clown actually agrees with me," Jesse remarked. "Although I do think you're nuts with that alien part," he told Joey

"Well...look, I'll take you girls to school tomorrow, and talk with the teacher. I really think this could have been solved without you getting involved that much, Steph. As for the other, I'd love to see one of my girls in the White House. Especially if I can be head maid," Danny said.

Meanwhile, Michelle had been playing with finger paints for a while before washing her hands and coming down to see Danny arrive home. She went back up to the bedroom she shared with

Stephanie; she'd sat several of the paints on Stephanie's bed, since it was close to the table, and the table was entirely covered with cardboard containing her artwork.

"Now all I need is to put my smock back on and...oops!" Her mouth flung open at a bottle of green toppled over as she tried to get it. She jerked her hand to catch the green, and two more bottles tipped over. "Oh, no, stop tipping over, Stephanie's gonna have a cow," she cried to the bottles. As she gazed in horror, she muttered, "More like a dinosaur."

She tried to use her smock to wipe up some of the mess, but in her haste, she forgot to take the others off the bed, and soon Stephanie's quilt looked like something a very crazed impressionist painter would create.

Michelle then thought about water - but Danny called up and announced that dinner would soon be ready, and for Michelle to wash her hands.

Michelle gulped. She couldn't let Stephanie see this mess. She quickly washed her hands, then grabbed Mr. Bear - who luckily had been on Stephanie's pillow and thus not messed up - and

Stephanie's sleeping bag, and pulled them into D.J.'s room. She ran back and shut the door to their room, then ran downstairs.

"Steph, I've got a great idea," Michelle said as they sat down to eat. "Why don't you sleep with D.J.?"

"Michelle, we went over this months ago. I'm your roommate now. Ewww, I don't like onions on my salad."

"Sorry, I gave three to everyone. I thought it looked more symmetrical that way," Danny said.

"You know, everything evenly distributed."

"I'll take them," Michelle hastily declared.

"Michelle, you don't like them either. You say they taste like something Comet would want,"

Stephanie reminded her. Why is Michelle acting so strangely, she wondered, noticing the anxious look.

"But I want to be nice to you," she said as D.J. calmly took the onions from both salads.

Michelle turned to D.J. next. "D.J., you and Stephanie could have a slumber party tonight."

"On a school night? I don't think so, Michelle," D.J. said, shaking her head.

"Aunt Becky, you say the babies keep you up. Stephanie can sleep with them and help you,"

Michelle suggested next.

"Well, Michelle, she can't feed them the way I can," Becky explained.

"Why not?"

Joey knew Danny was a little embarrassed to explain things like breast-feeding - Danny had a very hard time seeing his girls grow up, and explaining adult things was part of this. So, he interjected to change the subject: "Steph's probably going to be too busy keeping track of school lesson plans, right, Steph? You have to find ways to keep those kids occupied."

"Yeah, maybe you can help the first grade class with their play this year," Jesse suggested.

"Jess is right. Maybe you could have them do a comedy version of Yankee Doodle Dandy' for a change. A comedy, first grade version of 1776' would be nice, too." Joey stood and sang,

"As we vote on independency."

Sit down, Joey," everyone said at once.

"That's right. And, next year I could choreograph - wouldn't you like to do that play with me?" Stephanie asked.

"I guess so," Michelle muttered. She wasn't going to get Stephanie out of her room. She didn't want to think of what Stephanie would do when she saw the mess on her bed. And, she didn't know if she wanted Stephanie directing a play with her in it - or Stephanie being in charge of anything where she was. She squirmed in her seat a little as she thought of the lecture, bigger than any she'd ever had before.

After Michelle helped clear the table, the older girls cleaned the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. After a while, Jesse poked his head into the kitchen. "Hey, Miss Principal," Jesse joked. "A couple of parents need to talk to you."

Stephanie nodded. "Be right back, Deej." She flung the towel she was holding toward her and went into the living room. She sat on the couch with her dad, while Jesse sat next to her in a chair. "What is it?"

Jesse tried to think for a minute how to put it. Finally, he said, "I think you were a little hard on the Beaver. Ah, there I go," he told Danny. "I told Becky I was turning into June Cleaver."

"Honey, Michelle was timid even when she got home, but she just showed us something that happened before supper...well..." Danny tried to paint a mental image for her. "Remember all that gaudy, flashy stuff from the 1970s you've seen?" Stephanie nodded. "Well, imagine if the 1970s threw up. That's what your bed looks like."

"What?!" Stephanie couldn't quite figure out what the men were saying.

"Michelle made a big mess there, and your bedspread's gonna have to go to the cleaners. Plus some other stuff," Jesse explained. "She's terrified of what you'll do to her when you find out, though."

"Why would she be scared? I mean, even if Mr. Bear...uh, how is he?" Stephanie said worriedly.

"He's safe in D.J.'s room with your sleeping bag right now."

"That's a relief, Dad. But, even if he wasn't, sure I'd yell, but it wouldn't even be anything like today. I mean, at least she didn't do it on purpose, but even when she tried to miss Aaron, if you're trying to miss you can still miss, which means if she missed she would have hit him."

"Honey, don't you think you've gone a little overboard with this," Danny said.

"What do you mean, everyone else has been calling me Principal Stephanie,' not me."

"I mean with Michelle. Honey, look, maybe she did need corrected. Maybe she even needed, just a little, for you to raise you voice a touch," Danny said hesitantly. "But, honey, the way you yelled at her today is a lot worse than I think she needed."

Stephanie tried to defend herself by pointing out one positive. "But, Dad, look at Aaron. Before he might have been willing to pick on Michelle, or steal her lunch money, but now I bet he won't even tease her, much less hit or steal from her. He didn't seem scared, he just straightened up."

"Yeah, man, but that's Aaron. Every kid's different, and he might need a lecture like that; in fact according to D.J. his mom says he's practically Calvin without the tiger at times. But, Michelle doesn't need that," Jesse said.

"Honey, do you remember when you backed Joey's car into the kitchen?" Stephanie nodded. "Would you get behind the wheel of a car now?"

"Of course not, Dad. I know better. And I'd certainly never press a button that I didn't know what it did."

"But, are you scared to?" Jesse asked. "Or scared of us?"

"No, of course not. I might hide some things because I don't want you to know..."

"Like what?" Danny interrupted.

"Well, nothing, right now. But, well," she muttered, suddenly realizing something. She knew

why she'd been so rough on Michelle - she was thinking of how hard she was on herself, and expecting her sister, who wasn't even as old as she was, to live up to Stephanie's own high expectations for herself. "I'd do that because I wouldn't want to face the fact I blew it trying it myself. Not because I'm frightened of anything."

"Exactly. Steph," Danny continued, "there are two kinds of fear. Well, one isn't really fear as we know it, but the English language called it fear until a couple hundred years ago. And, that word is really a deep sense of awe, of knowing you have to be careful. That's the feeling that makes you not want to get behind the wheel again, or makes you not put your hand in a fire. You're not scared of the fire, but you have a very deep respect for its power, just like Aaron might for you, so you don't mess with it. Just like you're not scared of what we'll do, but you know that we have power to remove pretty much any privilege you can imagine, and that isn't fun."

"That's the truth," Stephanie muttered. "But, you're right, I'm not scared of you."

Jesse put a hand on her knee. "That's our point, kid. Michelle's really scared of you. You've got to understand Michelle doesn't need anything as harsh as Aaron needs to make him listen; in fact, D.J. tells us his mom has to give him a swat on occasion. Now, that's not something your dad or I like to think about anyone doing, but if it doesn't cause that unhealthy fear, we have to accept some people do that, even if we wouldn't. But, you gave Michelle the unhealthy kind today. And she needs you to show her she doesn't have to feel that."

Stephanie sighed. She knew she'd yelled a lot. She knew she could have lessened the volume, or shortened the lecture, a little and been just as effective.

"I don't want anyone to be scared of me," she said lowly. "Where is she now?"

"Probably anywhere but your room," Danny explained.

"I'll go up and see her." Stephanie trudged up the steps, wishing that she hadn't been so harsh; or that she'd apologized quickly, or something. She'd been so focused on making sure Michelle wasn't upset with her, she'd forgotten that she could have scared Michelle. And, as she considered her dad's example, she realized just why she'd acted that way.

Her heart sank as she saw Michelle in Joey's room, with his hockey uniform on. "Michelle, why are you all dressed up in Joey's hockey stuff - it doesn't even fit. The pads are too big, for one..." She suddenly stopped herself. "Oh, Michelle," she said with a tear in her voice. She hadn't meant to threaten Michelle - but, maybe something had come out the wrong way. "Do you really think I would hurt you?" Michelle nodded very slowly. Stephanie walked over and hugged her.

"You can take all that off, Michelle. A hug's going to feel much better without that mask on, anyway. I promise I'm not going to hurt you. Dad and Uncle Jesse told me there was a big mess in our room. But, I love you very much. And, I won't hurt you." After Michelle took it off to reveal her normal clothing, Stephanie said, "Let's go in our room and talk. Although, we'd better use your bed."

Michelle felt more comfortable as Stephanie spoke calmly and warmly on the way over. She could tell Stephanie was having trouble avoiding getting upset at the incredible mess, but she wasn't even yelling, so she decided that Stephanie would be nice.

Stephanie and Michelle sat up against Michelle pillow. She put her arm around Michelle and said, "Michelle, I'm very upset at that...well, that exploding peacock you put on my bed. But, I know you would have told me if you hadn't been so scared, right?"


"Michelle, I'm sorry I yelled so much today. I was very upset that. I try hard to be so good at school. But, I didn't realize why till Dad reminded me of the time I put the car in the kitchen. I thought I didn't deserve to be loved after that. Michelle, as hard as I was on you, I'm twice as hard on myself when I mess up. Another time, you were just a baby, I blamed myself for cutting Uncle Jesse's hair and thought it was my fault he broke his arms on his bike, when it wasn't my fault at all. I expect a lot of myself, and get really mad at myself when I don't do what I should. And, I think I got as mad at you today, because that's how upset I'd be with myself if I'd talked like that. I shouldn't have been so mad at you to make you so scared," Stephanie said.

"I deserved it," Michelle said, resting her head on her sister's shoulder. She was getting a little tired. "I'll never throw anything at someone again. Or even away from someone."

"Michelle, you deserved to be lectured. But, not like I did it. The real principal would be much more lenient. Unless of course, you really were bad, but we won't get into that."

That reminded Michelle of something else. Stephanie had said she wouldn't hurt her now. But, Michelle also knew that being rude must be very bad to have prompted the extreme reaction it had. And, given that Stephanie was the principal - if not worse - in that spot, she had to wonder. She looked cautiously toward Stephanie and spoke weakly. "Stephanie? Would you really have smacked me today if I'd said 'duh to the teacher?"

Stephanie closed her eyes for a second and lowered her head. She didn't like to think of it. But, ""If you'd been bad enough and the teacher or principal said you deserved it...I probably would have, just so I could be there to comfort you, and you could cry in my arms for a couple minutes before you went back to class." She could tell Michelle was getting teary at the thought, so she reached over with her other arm and embraced her. "But, don't worry. I will never hit you at home, and I won't hit you anywhere else, unless the principal says you really need it."

"I won't, Stephanie. I promise," Michelle said decisively. And, she wouldn't, either. Thinking of how scared she'd been, she requested, "Can I sleep with you tonight? Thinking about thinking about that is even scary," Michelle admitted. "That's why I never want to think about it."

Stephanie sighed. "Well, I think the only thing my bedspread is good for right now is a picture of Gettysburg if they'd used paint. Would you feel better if I came in bed with you tonight?" Michelle nodded happily. "Good. Because, I want you to be comfortable with me. If I ever find myself watching you, or if we're lost or something, I will take charge. You will be good and if you mess up go to timeout when I send you."

"You bet!' she said emphatically. She never wanted to risk another eruption like that. Even if it was the worst Stephanie would do, it had still be quite unnerving.

Stephanie didn't want to risk another one like it, either. That was why she was warning Michelle. However, she also wanted to be nice, and wanted Michelle to feel comfortable with her. "But, even then, I want you to feel safe and just know I love you and I'll be nice, but you have to listen to me. And here at home, you don't have to worry about me screaming my head off, either. The worst I could ever do...let's see, the worst I will do is call the hairy, scary monster," she considered aloud from the top of her head. "Say his name three times, and he comes out."

"Thanks. I'd rather you call him than the Stephanie monster," Michelle kidded her.

The next morning at school, Danny was talking with Mr. Rea and the principal as Stephanie and Michelle stood around before school. "I'm sure you won't have any problems," Danny said. "I understand your calling Stephanie - she really helps others a lot here, too, and she knows not to be too harsh, so she doesn't scare the bejeebers out of everyone. Frankly, I think the idea of calling her was a pretty good one."

"Uh-oh," Aaron said as he walked in with Teddy. "They must be watching me. Stephanie's here and I haven't even had a chance to think about doing something wrong. Now I know I better be good!"

"That's right, you better," Stephanie teased.

"Well, Mr. Tanner, I'll tell you something," the principal said. "I'm not big on hitting. If things got so bad and Michelle ever did need a smack, I wouldn't hesitate to call Stephanie if that's what you prefer."

"Yes, but I'm certain it won't be needed, she is such a wonderful angel," Danny said as he looked lovingly at Michelle.

"No it won't, I promise!" Michelle declared. "I'm going to be a good girl at school. They won't have to think of sending me there!" And she would be sure of it. There was no way, after what she'd been through, that she would ever be rude to a teacher, or refuse to accept what they said. Of course, her dad had spoken about how she shouldn't accept what they said as truth if they told her something dangerous or mean, but she wouldn't have to worry about that.

"I think Stephanie has become enough of a star here that a lot of kids are willing to promise stuff just so they don't have to see Stephanie," Mr. Rea offered. "Maybe that's for the best, though. I came out here because I knew city schools needed a lot more help than those in my small town. But, maybe that's the key - one big sister like Stephanie who can comfort or lecture or whatever else on kids' level in a mature way."

Stephanie was amazed at how people continued to try and build her up. "Well, pin a rose on my nose," she said sarcastically.

Mr. Rea noticed Stephanie's tired face. "You are a very helpful girl, from what Mr. Lowry has said. And, I'm sure everyone likes having you here, so they have that option to have you help."

"I know I like having her here. She is the best big sister ever," Michelle declared.