Posted by: Hannah | 02/25/2014

rules, glorious rules

In just three short months I will have two four year olds in my care.

I must be insane.

They call them the “fuck-you fours”.

A parent deep in the throes of the fuck-you fours will look frazzled. They will jump at loud noises.

They may have the smell of either booze or chocolate on their breath, depending on their particular vice. Or they’ll be sprinkled with potato chip crumbs.

The key identifying characteristic of the parent of a four year old is their non-compliance. They will commit one million tiny rebellions each day, just to reassert their independence.

See a tired-looking person sauntering out the in-door, stealing a handful of grapes at the grocery store, or taking 18 items to the 15 items or less line? Never sneaking, always defiant? They probably spend a certain amount of time in the company of a four year old.

Because here’s the thing about four year olds: they LOVE rules. They glory in rules. Rules make them SOHAPPYOMG. Rules bring order to chaos, serenity to the playroom, and punishment to peers who break them.

Need I point out that each individual four year old feels no strong desire to comply with the rules themselves? Because they don’t. Following the rules isn’t the attractive part. The joy all comes from becoming self-appointed enforcers of the rules.

And so, my day is a constant litany from Pixie and Louis – a litany of bossiness, tattling, and policing that makes me want to go to a mattress store and tear off some “do not remove” tags until I feel better.

So far today I’ve heard Pixie and/or Louis harangue either each other or the two year olds about:

  • how they are sitting in their chairs
  • whether or not kids are allowed to sing the hokey-pokey without a grown-up ‘helping’
  • what order we are allowed to sit during storytime
  • if ‘skipping’ in the house is the same as ‘running’ in the house
  • if we can all pretend different things and the world won’t end
  • if you can eat pretzels with your fingers
  • whether being taller / older automatically makes you better
  • if a girl can be Superman
  • whether or not Batman goes surfing

and so on, and so on, use your imagination here, people.

I think the nadir came when Daisy approached Pixie, who was busy baking pretend cupcakes in the play kitchen. Daisy leaned forward and took a large bite of the air near the cupcakes, while making an adorably-exaggerated munching noise. Pixie immediately started shrieking in great indignation: DAISY!!! WE DON’ EAT THE TOYS, EVEN DA PRETEND ONES!!!!!

Next, they’ll be tattling on each other for thought-crime.





  1. My name is ryenerman and I approve this message.

    I am on the front lines of FU Four: Youngest is 4.5 and I read this post while stuffing a snickers bar in my maw because 1:17 p.m. is too early for wine and I’m at the office.

    Oldest is 6.5 years older than Youngest so I’d managed to forget the downside of 4. I remembered only the good stuff and had forgotten the constant, incessant, enforcement of rules (real or imagined), the whining, the definance. Perhaps the first time it was more manageable because it was only Oldest. Just one child, two parents. Now, I shuttle between Youngest’s 4 issues, Oldest’s tween attitude, and Oldest’s (admittedly understandable, but nevertheless taxing) frustration with Youngest’s 4-ness.

    Last night I went to bed at 8:36 pm after dealing with Oldest’s burst of total rage at Youngest’s defiance (which resulted in Youngest breaking one of Oldest’s things), accidentally making Youngest cry (for the second time during the evening) because her desired snuggle critter was in the wash, and generally wondering why I thought having children was a good idea. I love my kids, but there are days when I need to drink all the wine and eat all the chocolate. Sigh.

    • *shudder*

      You are giving me a terrifying vision of things to come. Harry will be eleven when George is four and suddenly I’m questioning a lot of my life choices.

      • It’s too late for us. Perhaps my experiences can save someone else though, so all is not lost.

  2. How the heck does one eat pretzels, if not with fingers? Imagine if they knew that we snuck off to the hot tub instead of going to the closing session at Blissdom!

    • Some background – Daisy is reluctant to use age-appropriate habits at the table. She still must have a sippy cup because she likes to spill things. She seldom uses a fork and almost never correctly uses a spoon. She will throw food she doesn’t approve of. It’s a daily battle to civilize her because I expect better from a two year old. Louis & Pixie are therefore used to hearing me say “we use a spoon, not our fingers!” in a cheerful voice. Anyway, Daisy had pretzels and was OF COURSE eating them with her fingers. Louis immediately said “NO, Daisy. We use a SPOON, not our FINGERS!” and then Pixie chimed in, with the smug know-it-all tone she’s been adopting more & more often lately, “we KIN eat pretzels wif’ our fingers, LOU-IIIIS” and then the battle was on.

  3. “whether or not kids are allowed to sing the hokey-pokey without a grown-up ‘helping’” – I guffawed out loud.

    • I swear this is exactly what happened. Daisy started singing it and Pixie told her to “stop it wif dat SINGIN’ because dat is for CIRCLE TIME”. No idea where that idea came from.

  4. You could SO write an awesome book. I just don’t know if it would encourage parents – or scare them off of having more kids. 🙂 Good luck!

    • Yes, I’m afraid no one would want to read any book I wrote about children & parenting. Plus it can really be summed up in a couple of sentences. “Raising children is a marathon, not a sprint. Except that the whole time you’re running, ice weasels are biting your ankles. Good luck!”

  5. Ugh, another age to dread. Is there a GOOD age out there? Will I ever reach it?

  6. I do not think that we *can* all pretend different things without the world ending. IT MUST ALL BE THE SAME PRETEND THING.

  7. […] still a raging tattletale, but that’s age-appropriate. Annoying as hell, but well within the parameters for a child turning four in only a couple of […]

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