February 16, 2016

A Letter to Every Frustrated Parent (From the Future)

Dear Past Brian,

Hey handsome! It’s me -- well, I mean it’s you, but from 25 years in the future. That’s right. I’m sitting here on my hoverchair, typing this letter on my iPad 13 (though it looks like a piece of paper and you can fold it up and carry it in your pocket). I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately and wanted to tell you something important. But before I do, let me answer a few of the questions up front that I’m sure you’re dying to know:
1. Yes, the Reds have won 3 World Series titles -- and a Super Bowl! I know, right? I won’t tell you how; I don’t want to spoil it. 
2. Your favorite show in the future is Saved by the Bell: The Retirement Years. Zach and Kelly are grandparents who help out at a school where all 18 of their grandchildren attend. Mischief ensues. It’s hilarious.  
3. Anna got a perfect score on her 1st Grade Penguin project. Plus, that Fun Fact she taught you about penguins holding their breath for 20 minutes saves your life. I can't tell you how, but it does. (And yes, Mia still loves photo-bombing.)
4. You finally bite the bullet and start shaving your head with a razor, many, many years after you should have.Those awesome sideburns were hard to part with, but it had to be done. 
5. Grunge is back in style. Unfortunately, you are now too buff and muscular to fit into any of your old clothes. Maddening, I know.  
6. After all that stressing of "when will I find the time," you finally paint the dining room between soccer and volleyball season. It looks nice -- though the blue stain on the carpet does not. 
7. Justin Timberlake is President of the United States. Fallon is VP. Taxes are low, global warming is solved and dance lessons are free for all Americans. Plus, State of the Unions have never been more entertaining.

But what I’m really writing to tell you is this: I know you’re frustrated. I know the kids aren’t listening and are driving you crazy these days. I know you’re exhausted and you feel like you’ve lost all control. But what you don’t know is this: Eventually, in the future, you miss it. 

A lot. 

You know how you yell every morning before school because your daughters spend 45 minutes doing anything other than get ready -- this includes, but is not limited to: staring off into space, lying on the ground for no reason, making rainbow bracelets, checking the weather on your phone in case it changed from five minutes ago when they checked it on your phone, spilling things (MY GOD, SPILLING THINGS) and more? Well, that doesn’t happen any more because the girls are grown and have moved out. They spill things at their own places now. And guess what? You miss it. 

You know how every doorknob in the house has empty hangers on it, obstructing its ability to close -- and how that drives you insane? Well, now all the doors close with ease. And you hate it. 

You know how all three kids sing Wrecking Ball at the top of their lungs over and over and over again, off-key and, if you are really lucky, not in unison, to make a sound that could only be described as noise vomit? Now you’re the only one singing and, trust me, it sounds worse. 

Remember that basement that overflowed with toys? Princess dresses draped over your desk? Legos laying everywhere causing you severe Lego Limp? Barbies who sneaked out of the basement and, magically, ended up in every other room in the house, including the bathroom? 

Miss it, miss it, miss it. 

Now, those princess dresses are tucked away in a tub somewhere collecting dust. Your feet haven’t stepped on anything other than soft carpet. The Barbies are now contained in storage, probably talking about the “good old days” when they ventured upstairs and caught you doing something you shouldn’t like picking your nose or, worse, dancing. And the basement has transformed from a toy room into a man cave with sports memorabilia, a big TV, Lazyboys and a bar. (OK, so that one isn’t so bad. But the rest? The rest is terrible.)

I know you’re tired of having to yell like a madman who is trying to convince a post-Apocalyptic swarm of Zombies to eat over their plates instead of dropping crumbs that, somehow, end up in your underwear drawer. I know you’ve exhausted the phrases “Your coat doesn’t belong there!” and “Stop fighting me and just go to the bathroom!” and “Oh my god, you loved tacos last week when we had them, why in the world are you screaming in tears saying how much you hate them now?” But those phrases have been retired for years and have been replaced by a depressing silence that you try to fill with reading, video games and annoying your wife, who simply doesn’t appreciate it as much as she should. 

While this all sucks, it’s important to know that things aren’t completely terrible. While you stressed about it every second of every day, you’ll be happy to know your kids grow up to be amazing people. (Sorry, I can’t give away the details. Watching it all unfold is part of the fun and I don’t want to take that away from us.) But it’s important that I tell you this because I want you to relax a little bit and soak it all up. Take it in. Know that these times will go by too fast. Know that your hoarse voice and sore feet will heal and that you’ll have plenty of time to paint the dining room after the kids leave. Know that you’ll be sitting here on your hoverchair, wishing that for just a few minutes you could go back in time and get one more off-key, out-of-sync rendition of Wrecking Ball again. 

Know that and relax. Your time of not yelling will come soon enough. 

Don't rush to get there.

Take care,
Future Brian
PS-Take that laundry basket sitting in the living room upstairs. If my memory serves me correctly, it’ll save you both an ankle sprain and a lecture from your wife. You're welcome.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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December 5, 2014

OMG, Stop Sniffling And Use a Tissue!
(The Symphony of {Sniffs})

There are many annoying sounds in this world—road construction at 7 in the morning, most cell phone ringtones, Caillou—but none compare with the Symphony of {sniffs} that overtakes our house every winter during flu season. The Symphony of {sniffs} makes me wish I owned a chalkboard so I could drag my fingernails down it to drown out the noise. Even then, though, the chalkboard would cover its own ears and beg for mercy.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about sneezes; sneezes I can handle. In fact, I sneeze all the time. Sometimes I sneeze so hard that my headphones fly off my head.1 A good, loud, strong, well-crafted sneeze doesn’t annoy me, it impresses me, the same way I’m impressed by a 104 MPH fastball and Wendy’s Baconator. I can appreciate art. I’m talking about the constant and repetitive sniffing up snot that all kids do. 

And all kids do it. 

When snot runs out of an adult’s nose, the adult, who knows how to do smart things like set up an in-home wireless network or Photoshop a picture of a dog dunking a baseketball, will wipe that snot up with a tissue—unless, of course, there is no tissue to be found. Then he (or she) will use the backside of his (or her) sleeve.2 We will go through tissue after tissue (or sleeve after sleeve) to keep our upper lip free and clear. We will do this not only because we’re mature and it’s the right thing to do, but also because it may be Thursday night and you know what Thursday night means. {wink wink} 3

Kids, on the other hand, understand the concept of using a tissue about as well as they understand calculus. A box of tissues could be sitting on their lap with the top tissue sitting up so high it’s practically touching their nose, and instead of using it, they will go {sniff} and suck that mucus right back up into their brain.


{sniff} {sniff} {sniff}

That doesn’t seem so bad, you say. I mean, how terrible can it be, you say.  After all, it’s all lowercase and lacks an exclamation point! If it were serious it’d have an exclamation point!

That’s what people without kids think. People with kids know better. They know that the {sniff} doesn’t need any additional punctuation to drive you insane. They know that the {sniff} wears you down and makes you want to hurl yourself out the window!4 They know that the {sniff} doesn’t come to the party alone. The {sniff} brings {sniff} after {sniff} after {sniff}. Let me give you a couple (of maddening) examples.

Example #1: You’re rocking out to your favorite band in the car. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s not the Imagination Movers. Let’s pretend it’s someone cool like Rick Astley. You’re trying to sing along but, in the background, after every 4th word, you hear {sniff}.
We’ve known each other{sniff} for so long, your {sniff} heart’s been aching, but {sniff} you’re too shy to {sniff} say (inaudible mumble while you headbob) … we know the {sniff} game and we’re gonna {sniff} play it.
See how annoying it is—and you’re only reading it! I can assure you that no matter how loud you turn up the volume, you will still, somehow, hear each and every {sniff}. The real victim here, though, is Rick Astley.

Example #2: You’re on the phone with a friend and you’re SO close to solving world hunger but you just can’t hear your friend’s ideas because all you can hear is:
{sniff} … {sniff} … {sniff} … {sniff} … {sniff}
It’s like a slow drip from a leaky faucet, only you can’t stop the sound by calling the plumber. Trust me, I’ve tried. No matter how much money you offer the plumber, he (or she) will refuse to come to your house and stop the leaky nose. Worse yet, your friend has now solved world hunger without you and doesn’t even thank you when he (or she) appears on Ellen. What a jerk.

Example #3: It’s 3 A.M. in the morning and all you’ve heard for the last 4 hours (and all you will hear for the next 4 hours) is:
{sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff} {sniff}5

The point is, parents have a lot of miserable things to deal with—The Symphony of {sniffs}, dirty diapers, bloody knees, homework assignments that are more work for the parents than they are for the kids, Ebola—and yet we still find the strength and willpower every day to wake up, brave the exhaustion that awaits, and care for our kids. We do it because we love them. We do it because for every {sniff} there is a hug and a smile. We do it because one day we will be old and we don’t want them to stick us in the crappy nursing home that used to be a run-down Howard Johnson (you know, the one with all the murders!).

But mostly it’s for the hugs and smiles.
1 This is 100% true. My co-workers will confirm this. So will Twitter
2 I included the pronoun “she” to indicate that I am not sexist and will not adhere to the sexist rule of only using the pronoun “he” when a singular pronoun is needed. I want to make sure that women are treated equally when discussing wiping snot on their sleeves. (You are welcome women!)
4 Did you know there’s a word for throwing something out a window? It’s defenestrate. I hid it here in the footnotes, though, because it sounds dirty.
5 {sniff}

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

May 22, 2014

The Bite Report

As parents we send our kids off to many places—school, summer camp, grandma’s candy-filled house—where things happen. I mean, things happen everywhere, right? Or so, as parents, we would believe. Clearly this is faulty logic on our part, though, because when my kids return home from nearly anywhere and I ask, “What did you do today?” the answer is always “Nothing.”

“What did you do at school today?”

“What did you do at grandma’s house?”

“Nothing? Are you sure? I mean, you spent the night there. And she took you out to dinner. And she took you to a festival. And she sent me photos of you at 10 PM last night still awake and eating chocolate-chip ice cream with sprinkles on top—which reminds me, I fired your grandmother and am looking for a replacement grandmother, but we can discuss that later. So think about it again. What did you do at grandma’s house?”

Long pause.


This holds true for my oldest two daughters who, amazingly, have greatly improved their math skills, science skills, reading skills and monkey-bar swinging skills, all while doing “Nothing” during school hours and who nearly always come home with giant smiles on their faces after spending a day with their (former) grandparents doing “Nothing.” But not so much for my youngest daughter.

Our youngest daughter is still a full-time member with our sitter. Most days, for approximately 8 hours, she molds Play-Doh, naps and asks our sitter to help her “find her baby” which she seems to lose on a regular basis. (NOTE: I would not recommend hiring our youngest to babysit your kids). But I look forward to picking her up from our wonderful sitter the most, not because she still runs and gives me a giant hug (which I love) or because she smells like Cheez-Its (which I also love). It’s because when I ask her, “What did you do today?” she doesn’t say “Nothing.” Instead, she gives me The Bite Report.

The Bite Report is a daily record of who bit whom (and who didn’t bite whom) at the sitter’s house. She delivers it as if she were Secretary of State, standing on the floor of the Capitol building, recounting the key moments of the day that need to be logged into the national register. Here is an example of a typical Bite Report, though please keep in mind that the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and for my own personal amusement).

“What’d did you do today?” I ask.
“2Pac didn’t bite anyone today!” she says, as if this were my only concern in life.
“Oh no?”
“Nope. He didn’t.”
“That’s great!”
“Beyonce didn’t bite anyone either!”
“That’s also excellent news!”
“My baby doll did bite me, though, so I had to put her in timeout.”
“Your baby doll bit you?”
“Yes, but after timeout she didn’t anymore.”
“Thank goodness.”

Now before anyone gets all judgmental and says, “How could you send your kids to a place where kids are biting other kids?” I say to you with a very well thought-out and reasoned response: “Because it’s close to work.” Also all the kids are two-years-old and younger and very rarely does anyone actually bite anyone, but my daughter has committed to memory the handful of times it’s happened (though, like any good celebrity Tweet-Gone-Wrong cover-up, she manages to omit her own biting offenses from the record books).

I used to find it a bit concerning that this was the No. 1 news story from her day, but thanks to the lack of activity—and reporting—from my older kids, I find The Bite Report to be as fascinating as TMZ. In fact, I’ve attempted to start an underground gambling ring with my wife based off The Bite Report.

“I’ll bet you $5 that Shakira is the first biter today!”

“I’m not gambling,” said my wife. “I’ve only ever gambled once and don’t want to do it again.”

“What happened, did you lose?”

She paused as she stared directly at me, taking in the fact that I was wearing cut-off jeans, hadn’t shaved for days and had spent the previous 30 minutes telling her all the fun facts I learned about the boy-band One Direction on Wikipedia.

“The jury is still out.”

I know The Bite Report has a shelf life, as these kids grow and mature and do other things, like tackle each other. But in a world where big kids are too tired to tell you what’s happening in their lives, it’s still nice to know that every day I can count on one constant report that’s cute and sweet and will forever remind me that, once upon a time, my daughter liked to tell me about her day.

Also, if you’d like to receive The Bite Report, please follow me @BrianKlems. And if you’re currently looking for a new gig and are of grandmotherly-age, I know of a family that’s hiring.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

March 28, 2014

How I Met Your Mother - The Night of the Rose

Hey kids, have I ever told you the story of how I met your mother? It's not the kind of fairytale you'd find in a Disney movie (and I would know because we own all of them). There's not really a prince or a princess or a witty talking crab named Sebastian (though, admittedly, that would have been totally awesome). It isn't a story quite like that. But it is the story of a boy who fell in love and it's one that, much like the final episode of "Saved By The Bell," will always hold a special place in my heart.

The year was 1997.
I stood there, my heart racing a mile a minute. The anticipation of waiting for your mother to answer the door was killing me. It was 11 p.m. and I was a young 18-year-old dude, about to leave for senior trip with three of my closest buddies in the world. The car was loaded with supplies that all 18-year-old boys pack for a senior trip to Florida—snacks, swim trunks, cases of … Pepsi. They were parked at the end of the driveway, hanging outside the car, waiting for me as I stood there all alone with a rose in my hand.

It could have been 30 seconds. It could have been two hours. Time stood still for me from the moment I rang that doorbell until your mother's door opened. Only it wasn't your mother, it was her mother (your Nonni). 

She stared at me, giving me the once over. It was hard to tell what she was thinking. Was she wondering why I was ringing her bell so late at night? Was she wondering why I was standing there holding a rose? Was she wondering why one of my buddies was peeing in her neighbor's yard?

I concentrated not to stumble over my words.

"Is Brittany here?" I asked.

Without much hesitation she smiled. While I'm not quite sure what raced through her head at that moment, that smile indicated that she saw me as her daughter's knight in shining armor (if you count 90s grunge-wear and a chain wallet as shining armor), and that she'd been waiting for me to come and sweep her daughter off her feet. This was the moment she had been waiting for. It was the moment I had been waiting for. Destiny had finally arrived, and she topped it off with three magical words:

"Are you Jeff?"

Well this suddenly got awkward.

Your mother and I had actually met months before.
You see I had just split up with a girl at the beginning of senior year. She was nice and sweet, but she liked Dave Matthews and I, like many young high school boys at the time, pretended to like Dave Matthews. We ended on kind of a sour note and I swore off girls.

But a funny thing happens when you suddenly meet the girl of your dreams—you can't stop yourself from falling in love. It just happens.

Your mother had been hanging out with one of my good friends, Jennifer. They were eating dinner at a Perkins one night when I stopped by with a friend.1 I remember that night because it was the first time I looked deep into your mother's eyes. They were beautiful. It was also the night I realized how awesome I looked in sweater vests. I didn't say anything, mainly because when you're young and in love you have no clue know what to say. And if you do have the courage to speak, you usually say something stupid like, "Did you know I'm in a band? We're super awesome and totally going to make it." 2

There are a lot of other stories I could tell you—like the night of my graduation party or the Ben Folds Five concert where we both attended with friends and my friends, all of whom lived by the high school guy commandment "When You Have A Chance to Embarrass Your Close Friend, You Do It," did all they could to "help" me get close to your mother. Or the party where our friends debated whether or not your mother would date me (I don't think they were taking into consideration this newfound information about me and sweater vests).

But I don't want to ramble on for what will feel like nine years. So I'll get back to the key story, the one where I stood on your Nonni and Poppi's front porch in the middle of the night, with a single red rose in my hand, just before leaving for Florida with my friends—who were now all peeing in the neighbor's yard—trying to win over your mother.

I had been called a lot of things in my life before, but I had never been called "Jeff."
I'd later find out from your mother that "Jeff" was her friend's boyfriend3, but for all I knew at the time, he was her boyfriend or worse, a Cubs fan. My confidence shrank faster than a post-PED Barry Bonds head and it took everything in me to muster up a response.

"Uh, no."

"Oh," your Nonni said. "Just wait right here a minute while I get her."

I could hear her call up to your mother's room. If there were a time to bail, this was it. But like I said before, you can't stop yourself from falling in love.

When your mother arrived at the door, she looked like an angel. And for the next 90 seconds I professed my love to her, telling her I couldn't stop thinking about her and how I wanted to spend more time with her. She didn't say much, but she didn't have to. I was wearing a sweater vest. 

With that I left for Florida with my friends. We had a lot of fun, drank a lot of … Pepsis, narrowly avoided getting beat up (twice) and more. But I couldn't get your mother out of my mind. And when we got home, she was one of the first people I called.

So that's the story of how I met your mother—or, at least, the most important moment of when we met. I hope you girls have a fun story to tell describing the amazing night when you meet your future spouse. Of course, this can't happen until you're 55. And I'm dead.

1 When your mother tells this story she claims I stopped by after a high school dance where I was someone else's date. In truth, her memory is a little foggy because that night she had a little too much … Pepsi.
2 No bands ever make it. Though my band, Optimus Prhyme, totally would have made it. But we chose to step away from future glory to focus on something even more important—our softball careers.
3 I'd like to think that he actually spells his names with quote marks around it.

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

February 21, 2014

How The 100th Day of School Aged My Daughter 94 Years

Today is my wife’s birthday, which means, if my arithmetic is correct, she’s turning one year older than she turned last year. Oddly enough, both years she turned 29. And the year before that she turned 29 too. She must use that new wave math that politicians use when creating budgets.

Either way, happy birthday to my beautiful wife, who is smarter than I am, funnier than I am and looks almost as good in yoga pants as I do.1

Today is another significant day in our lives, as my eldest daughter turns 100. (I know what you’re thinking: I look super young for having a 100-year-old. I should really write a post about beauty tips.) That’s her in the picture to the right.

I promise that this is not a cruel joke we are playing on my wife to make her feel old on her birthday, though that would have been an awesome joke had we thought of it first! In fact, my daughter and her classmates are celebrating their 100th day of school by dressing up as 100-year-olds. They are demanding that we parents turn down our loud music and have dinner ready for them by 4 p.m. They are also requesting more bran in their diet and telling us stories about how they survived that one time in their youth when they had to watch a TV show on a non-HDTV. (Oh, how rough they once had it.)

The scene at her school this morning looked less like a group of elementary kids getting dropped off to learn and enlighten their minds and more like a group of old-timers getting dropped off to play bingo. The only things missing were ink daubers and good-luck troll dolls.

When dressing my daughter up, my wife and I agreed that there were five essential elements to looking like a 100-year-old. We found them all (as you can see in the picture) and they are, as follows:

Fancy hat? Check!
Curlers? Check!
Bathrobe? Check!
Skinny glasses with string to keep around neck? Check!
Carefully crafted wrapping paper cardboard-roll cane with tennis ball on the end? Check!

I asked my daughter if she and her friends planned to talk like old people too? I’m not sure if she knew what I meant. The more I thought about this, though, the more I realized that I am so old now that I’m probably more likely to understand the antiquated language of a 100-year-old than I am the hip language of a grade schooler. I have been listening closely to my daughter and her friends so I can get a better understanding of their lingo and, I’m happy to report, I have learned a few things, which is hard when you’re as old as a dinosaur. I have learned that instead of saying “totally,” they say “totes.” And instead of laughing they just say “LOL.” Apparently they have no time to communicate in full words.

Let me give you an example of a conversation between first graders and then give you the translated equivalent of the same conversation between 100-year-olds so you also have a better understanding of the generational differences between the two.  

A first-grader conversation:
Kid 1: Geez, LOL. Did you munch that new ep of Austin & Ally?
Kid 2: Totes. I rocked it on my iPad all day.
Kid 1: Totes.

Same conversation held by 100-year-olds:
Old Person #1: Did you see that show about those young whippersnappers who sing?
Old Person #2: No, I’m blind.
Old Person #1: Me too!

When I was in grade school we didn’t celebrate the 100th Day of school. That wasn’t a thing, just like the Internet wasn’t a thing and Justin Bieber wasn’t a thing (OK, so growing up eons ago wasn’t all bad). But grade school is a lot more fun nowadays. My daughter has had crazy-hair day and movie day and all sorts of other fun events that get woven in between the wonderful education she’s getting at her grade school. As a parent, this is kind of a glorious time to have kids in school. You really get to participate and enjoy it.

The 100th Day of School “Dress Like You’re 100” Day will go down in my books as one of my favorite days of grade school yet. Plus, it’ll be a nice way for my wife to remember her fourth 29th birthday. 2

Though I have to admit, I’m looking forward to my daughter coming home and taking off the old lady garb. After all, she’s still my little lady and I prefer to keep her that way as long as I can.

1You are now picturing me in yoga pants, aren’t you? You’re welcome.
2It’s not really her fourth 29th birthday, but I value my life too much to tell you which one!

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Games for Young Kids: The Candy Bowl

Watching the Super Bowl with young kids is nearly impossible.

There's yelling and screaming, and that's just from your wife who is trying to get the kids to stop standing on the coffee table.1

You miss the best plays of the game because you're cleaning up spilled Capri Suns off the carpet and you miss the best commercials because you're in the bathroom reading Blue Hat, Green Hat to your youngest who thinks she has to poop and refuses to get up until you've read the book at least 45 times. 

I was tired of not being able to watch the Super Bowl, the most popular thing in America, so last year I devised a strategy to get the kids involved by showing them the second most popular thing in America: Gambling. 

I grabbed a piece of paper and a marker and created a Super Bowl Box Pool or, as we like to call it, The Candy Bowl. I altered the rules a little to make it kid-friendly and will share them with you (I've included an image of our Candy Bowl chart below to help.)

The Super Bowl Box Pool for Kids
(aka The Candy Bowl)

The Set Up
1. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen.
2. Draw horizontal lines and vertical lines until you create a giant square with 100 boxes inside.
3. Tear a piece of paper into 10 small pieces and number each one zero through nine. 
4. Find a hat (or, in the case of a dad with three daughters, a Dora purse). 

The Rules
1. Take turns putting initials in each box until the entire 100 squares are accounted for. 
2. Adults may play, but they are allowed only 1 box for every 2 boxes initialed by each child. 
3. Take four boxes and mark them as "Community Boxes." If the score hits on one of these boxes, everyone wins. (This gives everyone a few numbers to root for together.)
4. Kids take turns pulling numbers out of the hat (Dora purse) to determine which number is associated with each row. Do this once for the horizontal rows and once for the vertical rows. 

The Prizes - Pick from the Candy Bowl
1. End of the First Quarter: 1 piece of candy
2. End of the Second Quarter: 1 piece of candy
3. End of the Third Quarter: 1 piece of candy
4. End of the Fourth Quarter: 2 pieces of candy2 

This game, this simple game, kept my kids much quieter than in years past. Suddenly they were invested in the Super Bowl. Their eyes glued to the score, as if the score were an episode of "Sophia the First." The asked me relevant questions about the football, such as "How do the teams score points?" and "How long until someone wins candy?" instead of "Dad, why doesn't your head grow any hair?" They spent more time snuggling on the couch with me than standing on the coffee table3, and stayed focused long enough for us to enjoy the game together. Most amazingly, they spent the entire year asking me when we could do it again.

So with this year's Super Bowl right around the corner, gather your paper, marker and Dora purse and get ready to go. It's time to start your annual tradition of The Candy Bowl. 

1 In their defense, they were playing Lava Floor and if they touched the ground, they'd be melted by hot lava. 
2 If you want to step it up, you could make little goodie bags of treats to give away. I would, but I usually am too busy reading Blue Hat, Green Hat.
3 Though we did keep our feet up off the ground. I mean, the floor is made of lava for Christ's sake. 

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!  
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things.