How to Defeat the Rule-Changer

Strategies for winning when your kid is constantly changing the rules.

With some kids a simple game of catch can turn into a competition faster than a political discussion at work can turn sideways. Before you know it, there’s a rather fluid list of rules and procedures longer and more confusing than the Itunes terms and services contract.

  • “No! That wasn’t a point because I touched it!”     
  • “That was MY point because I was standing outside the imaginary circle.”
  • “Wait… that didn’t count because I wasn’t ready, and you didn’t hold left leg and stand like a flamingo.”

My son once told me I lost all my points because I was sitting the wrong spot. I calmly explained that he never fucking told me that I was in the wrong spot! I was under the impression that I had 8 points!! He can’t just change the GOSH DARN RULES!!!!!! THIS ISN’T HOW REAL LIFE WORKS, SON!!! He won that game. 

Unfortunately, kids can and will change the rules because that IS how their “real world” works. And it’s OK. They probably just want to laugh and run around with you right now, and sometimes that’s more valuable than a life lesson. Instead of turning into the get-off-my-lawn old man screaming about tradition and rules, it’s more fun just play by their rules. But losing sucks, so here’s how you can still win.

Bloggy Advice

  1. Write Down The Rules – Believe it or not, kids are more likely to follow rules that are written down, especially if they’ve already started school. So make them stop and write down every crazy rule that pops in their crazy head. They’ll eventually become more selective. This strategy requires extra work, but if the game you’re kid is creating is actually fun, it could be worth it the long run.
  2. Use Your Length– make a scoreboard and hang it too high for them to reach. This way you have complete control, so the score doesn’t fluctuate like a the stock market.

Petty Advice

  1. Holdout– Great athletes sometime have to holdout to get the contract they rightly deserve. You’re a great athlete; hold out to get the point you rightly deserve.
  2. Out-rule Change Them – Keep it simple. Change the rules more frequently than they do in order to preserve your lead. Maybe they’ll start to understand the injustice of it and change their ways.
  3. Threaten to Play With Someone Else – Works every time, especially if there’s a sibling.


Three Simple Ways to Make Your Kids Leave You Alone

When “Go Away” Just Doesn’t Work

Adults have to do adult things. Simple things like read emails, go to the bathroom or enjoy silence. Kids, of course, have no concept of this. You know how full grown humans often use kitchen’s as gathering places for fun, social conversation. In case you didn’t know, that’s how kids view the bathroom.

“Oh, you’re going to sit down with a book or phone in our water-room?!?! Oh Cool!! Let’s tell that one joke I know a hundred more times! Watch me wrap myself in the shower curtain! WATCH!! Did I tell you I want some milk… like right NOW!!”

You know how you sometimes need to sit at the computer to check the news or write an essay. This is the equivalent of online political discussion to the still-growing humans in your house. They can’t stay away even if they want to.

“Oh, you’re going to write an email? Let me show you how hard I can bang on the keyboard! That’s the power button, right? I knew it!! This is how you close a laptop, Dad.  Hey… let me close it. LET ME CLOSE IT!!”

You know you can’t use TV to shut them up and leave you alone because some blogger told you they took away all screens and now their children are better than yours. And you’re vaguely aware that you’re not supposed to lock them in a room because laws and stuff. So the next time you need to steal a few moments, try these tricks.

1. Extended Hide and Seek – If your kids are old enough, you can convince them that they’re the best hiders in the world. Then they’ll hide for a good five, maybe ten, minutes before you have to find them. I’ve heard of kids hiding upwards of twenty minutes behind a door, giggling the whole freaking time.  

2. Throw Couch Cushions On the Ground – If you don’t have a couch that your kids can jump on, you shouldn’t be reading this article anyway. You should be holiday crafting with your children. If you do… chunk those cushions on the ground. You’re kids will carreen themselves around for a good six minutes before they hurt themselves. That’s enough time for a few emails. (PS – It must be noted that you might hear “WATCH THIS!” a few hundred times)

3. “Forbidden” Kitchen Tools – No shit. Hand your kids a pair of tongs and basting brush, look around to make sure no one is around and whisper, “Don’t tell Mom.” They’ll be “cleaning” and picking crap up all over the house for a good fifteen minutes. Plenty of time to read another blog post filled with useless advice on parenting.


Four Surefire Ways to Respond to Incoherent Rambling

When your three year old stumbles through a four minute soliloquy about a puddle while waiting in the dreaded elementary school pick up line, it’s NOT important that you understand everything he/she says. It IS important that you have quick, go-to responses when they start yelling DAD!, DAD!, DAAAAAD!, signalling the end of their lecture. Here are Four excellent responses that will all but guarantee you the ability to continue listening to the radio instead of having to ponder deep thoughts on shallow water.

1. “Oh Cool” – This is clearly the easiest, simplest, and should always be your first option. It doesn’t always work, but you’re making no promises or commitments. And let’s be real. Your kid thinks whatever they say IS the coolest, and they’re looking for confirmation.

2. “Oh… you think so?” – It’s a yes or no question. If I know anything, I know that kids need practice answering yes or no questions. It also forces them to re-examine their original idea, which can either teach them valuable skill or at least make them stop talking for a while. 

3. “That’s Good Thinking, Chief”  – Whether the thinking was sound or not isn’t the issue; they’ll forget what they said anyway. This response provides solid positive reinforcement for exploring profound issues. And all kids like being called Chief. It’s a fact!!

4. “Oh Man, Are you Serious!?!?” – The key is excitement. If you match their enthusiasm, they’ll love you forever, and more importantly, they’ll think you were actually listening.










Love Letter

Dear Hot Wheels,

I love you, tiny land mines, for being the best bang-for-buck toy in the business.

I love you for being small enough to fit in a babies mouth, but not big enough swallow.

I love you encouraging sound effects like shhhhhhhwoo, ahhhhhhhpshsscrash, and vroooommmmm instead of repetitious, battery powered ear pollution. 

I love that you can cause major damage when hurled across a room.

I love that taking you away is an effective punishment, and giving you back makes me a fucking hero.

I love you being less than dollar.

I love you for never getting lost because you multiply during the night and have taken over my house.

Never forget that I love you, even when I curse you for living beneath my bare feet.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                  A Dad

Vicarious Confidence

Is Kid Confidence Contagious?


I’m not worried about my boys uncovering the truth about Santa. In fact, I’ll be proud. All the clues are there; it only takes a tiny amount of logic to hash out the facts. I’m not worried about the day when my boys ask about sex, drugs, or even politics (no logic involved here). I’m not even worried about my boys spending waaaay too much time in the bathroom. What I worry about, at least currently, is when they discover that they’re not nearly as fast as they think they are.

My boys honestly believe they are the quickest, strongest beings on earth. My oldest is even faster than the boys that blaze past him on the soccer field. It’s my fault. It’s completely, one hundred percent my fault. I use the fake stopwatch as much as any parent… probably a little more.

“Go get the wipes in the other room, hurry… I’ll time you!”                                                   Kid bolts down the hall.                                                                                                                 Kid returns a few minutes later, frantically breathing.                                                     “Damn!!!… that was FAST, 13 seconds!! NEW RECORD”

It’s going to be a rough day when my oldest has to face reality and admit that there might be a person in the world capable of getting the wipes faster than he can. His world will be shattered. Maybe worse, MY world will be shattered because he’s going to first realize that that person is me, and I don’t want to have to get up and get the wipes every freaking time.

But more than that, there’s something uplifting about a kid’s self-confidence. I wish I owned half the self-assurance my son possesses. Most parents need a little shot of pride and arrogance each day, just to get us through the times our kids let us down. Because we feel like we let them down. In the race against the stronger, faster parents of the world, it’s easy to feel like other Moms and Dads are blazing past, leaving behind a trail of homemade yogurt, crafts, and judgement. So it’s nice to feel my self-worth bolster a little each time my boys flex their scrawny little arms and tell me how strong they are or brag about their drawing of a dog that looks more like a dying tree. I’m learning to feed off their positive energy like an emotional parasite.

It’s not a wonder parents sometimes find themselves getting washed in glory on YMCA sidelines. Maybe it’s not always a bad thing. Occasionally, we’re simply basking in the glory of our kid’s confidence, even if they’re getting rocked by a faster, stronger team.

Love Letter

Dear Crocs for Little Kids

Dear Crocs for Little Kids,

I love you little kid Crocs for being the hardest working, longest lasting shoes in the business.

I love you for giving a middle finger to shoe laces and a big FU to velcro.

I love you for jumping right into the washing machine and coming out all fresh, clean, and ready to wear.

I love you for ignoring the naysayers who say that you’re “unrefined” and “ugly”. Shits on them!! You make my boys look “Bad Ass” and “independent”… and “super fast”.

I love you for having the courage to stare that giant, muddy puddle in the eye and send it splashing in every fucking direction.

You’re the best little kid Crocs. Never Change!


Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                  A Dad


Love Letter

Dear Chick-fil-A Playground

Dear Chick-Fil-A Playground, 

I love you for your glass walls, covered with chicken grease fingerprints, just thick enough to muffle the horrific screams of pleasure within.

I love you for the door that’s heavy enough to slow down a four year old and completely trap a two. I love you for the brief moments of silence you provide.

I love you for that one kid who’s juuuuust young enough to think you’re fun, but juuuuust old enough to teach the little kids about being bullied.

I love you for the parents who forget you’re caring for their child, and I love you for the parent who perches on your little rubber bench, destroying the party buzz you work so hard to create.

I love that you have overly-nice friends who like to refill my drink and pick up my trash.

I love you for swallowing my children’s shoes and inventing the “Where the Fuck Are Your Socks?!?” game.

But most of all, I love that you’re baaaaarely big enough for me to slither up to grab my stubborn ass child when it’s time to leave.

A Dad