The kitchen counter was surprisingly spotless, wiped clean by the same hand that had penned the neatly folded note left there and addressed, "To Mom."
Inside was a list of other completed household tasks that aren't part of my youngest daughter's weekly chores: washed windows, cleaned closets, shredded credit card applications and the tidying of the kitchen junk drawer.
"Aw," some of you are thinking. "Isn't that sweet?"
I know better.
My nice little note, written in near-perfect penmanship, was actually a bill; an expectation of payment due for services rendered by the little capitalist.
It turns out the youngest has her eye set a new video game and is trying to raise the cash with her own labor, because she figures Mom and Dad aren't going to pay for it outright.
She knows the family history. How her big brother bought his own Nintendo system at the ripe age of 9 with his birthday money because that was the deal. "If you want one of those mindless games," we told him, "then you'll have to pay for it yourself."
So he did.
That first Nintendo turned out to be the gateway to a video gaming habit that still endures. In the ensuing years he has traded up for a SEGA Genesis, Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Game Cube, XBox and the Nintendo Wii.
As often happens in families, the oldest contaminates those who come later, and so a couple of years ago he thought it would be a kick to give his two younger sisters a Nintendo Game Cube for Christmas with a note that simply said, " 'Cause Mom and Dad wouldn't."
The middle child followed suit and bought herself a PlayStation 2 with money she had saved.
The youngest purchased her own handheld video game system, a Nintendo DS.
And she now has the notion that she just can't live without the video game Rock Band after a recent weekend spent at her big brother's digs.
There she got a taste of what it's like to play virtual guitar. Now she's eager to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats: Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt and, evidently, her 25-year-old brother, who plays virtual guitar and has been known to "rock the mic" during Friday night jam sessions with a few of his peers.
To do that, the youngest needs to save up about $100. She's about halfway there, she tells me, while we're haggling over her latest bill.
"You're not going to (cheat) me, are you?" she asks, not satisfied with my first offer.
"No, darling," I say with a sigh as visions of Friday night teeny-bopper jam sessions dance in my head.
"Just trying to delay the inevitable."
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6251.