Opposite Day Rules

In times of extreme boredom, like after watching movie trailers online for 2 hours, my wife and I may resort to declaring an Opposite Day. It’s foolproof fun. Except, we often just argue about whether or not it’s Opposite Day:

No, because today’s Opposite Day – I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

Wait, today’s not Opposite Day.

You’re wrong, it’s not.

No, you’re right. It is.

Maybe it’s not so foolproof.

So, what are the rules of Opposite Day? You’ve likely asked yourself the same question. Wikipedia provides some guidance:

Usually, a person would say, “After this phrase is over, it will be officially Opposite Day,” and then Opposite Day will be officially started. Opposite Day can also be declared retroactively to indicate that the opposite meaning of what was said should be inferred. Opposite Day games are usually played by schoolchildren. Opposite Day is historically the first Thursday of the Month.

Historically? Schoolchildren? I really like the retroactive option – arguing about whether or not it was opposite day is much more controversial than arguing about whether or not it is. But, you shouldn’t have to qualify it with “After this phrase is over…” Those two guidelines seem contradictory.

And so, the definitive list of Opposite Day rules:

  1. No lying
  2. No biting
  3. No preemptive warnings are necessary because you can never actually initiate an Opposite Day, only remind someone what day it is. Hence, the statement “today is Opposite Day” is invalid, when Rules 1 and 2 are in effect. There is only one way to declare an Opposite Day: “today is not Opposite day.” However, this statement, on its own, has no meaning since it can be made on any day of the year, Opposite or not.

Yes, today is not opposite day. Yes, I’m lying.

How to be two fun parents

Parents often seem to work together as a yin and yang, that is, polar opposites, rather than as Mr. and Mrs. Smith or She-ra and He-man, counterparts with similar strategies and techniques. In the latest episode of “Modern Family” the yin, dad, is super fun, and the yang, mom, super not fun. And so, the question around the blogosphere is, “Can you have two fun parents in the family?” (e.g., Momania).

The answer of course is, yes. And the real question is, how can both parents avoid being super not fun, concurrently?

  1. Dads aren’t innately more fun and this dichotomous parenting isn’t “natural” or “normal,” except in sitcom land. Tim the Tool Man was just clueless, sometimes even when it came to tools, but he tried to be responsible, when his wife threatened him. Wait, that’s a bad example.
  2. Don’t hog all the yin. Parents have to share both the fun and responsible sides of parenting. Clearly, if dad takes up all the yin, mom is more likely to pick up the slack, all the yang (e.g., Mrs. Doubtfire). Instead, each parent takes half the yang, and then spices it with some yin when they dish it out to the kids.
  3. Both parents should be stay-at-home at least metaphorically, or metaphysically, or something. This is a continuation of number 2. Often the working parent focuses their responsibleness on their career, while the stay-at-home parent directs theirs to the kids. This might force parents into a fun/boring dichotomy. Sometimes after a long day alone with the kids I realize I need to step it up with the yang and help my wife out.
  4. You might have to play good cop, bad cop, but take turns. Sometimes I find myself filling in where my wife leaves off – if she gives second chances, I take them away, if she’s unrelenting, I’m lenient. Maybe we’re catching the kids off guard – she lures them in and then I attack. It’s teamwork. Taking turns seems wise. Of course, when the poop hits the fan you may have to play bad cop, bad cop.
  5. Go camping more often.

Outdoor Thanksgiving Activities with Kids

A quick list of things to do with your kids, especially the younger ones, on Thanksgiving, outside:

  1. Anything, so long as your out of the house and out of the kitchen. Significant others will give you thanks.
  2. Get outside. Our minimum outdoor playing temp here in MN is 20°, so we might be good to go. Find some space and play catch the turkey, i.e., tag with a pilgrim theme – I just made that up.
  3. Hunt a real turkey. Never done it, so I’m not sure what it entails. Projectiles and licenses to use them I guess. Maybe just stalk a turkey and learn to appreciate your dinner a little more. In case you don’t have access to wild turkeys, pigeons would do. I’m sure you don’t need a license to hunt a pigeon.
  4. Reenact the famous and probably made-up story of the pilgrims and the American Indians. Some neighbor kids could help – maybe they have costumes and fake weapons. Spice up the story with a battle for survival, emaciated pilgrims versus hungry wolf pack. Then, the Indians save the day with arrows flying.
  5. Made-up or not, Thanksgiving is a great way to teach about sharing and gratitude. If you don’t reenact it, at least tell the story, or the ideas behind the holiday. I recommend telling it while hiking or on a scenic drive, or with visual aids – shoot, you might try all three. These profound life lessons are extremely boring to children.

Dr. Suess: Model Outdoorsman

This morning we impromptued a scene from The Lorax, where the Lorax (played by Mom) reprimands the Once-ler (our 1-yr-old):

Your nose chugs on day and night, without stop, making gluppitty-glupp, also schloppity-schlopp.

Then, our 5-yr-old joined in:

And what do you do with this left over goo? I’ll show you, you dirty old Once-ler man, you!

He did not proceed to show us what the baby does with her snot. That would have been gross, though funny.

The Lorax – inspiring countless kids to get outdoors and hug a tree, one of the few books I would ever bring camping.

I’m sure Dr. Suess was a minimalist camper and ultralight backpacker, keeping it simple, enjoying the Grickle-grass and the Swomee-Swans song, and leaving no trace. What a model outdoorsman. I can picture him crossing the Sierras with John Muir, swinging their knapsacks, and whistling “Rocky Mountain High.”

Camping with Kids: A Simple Gear List

The two oldest on their first trip with dad

Below are 5 critical camping with kids items – forgetting them could potentially lead to frustration, tears, and even going home early. For a kids’ personal gear list, see the 7 essential items that kids can pack and manage on their own.

This fall I took the kids camping at Interstate State Park, Taylor’s Falls, MN, for a quick overnighter. It was totally spur of the moment, the moment being right when I got home from work, about 4:30 PM, and the spur being a cabin fever of 110°.

As an aspiring purist/minimalist camper my camping-with-kids gear list started out very short – clothes. Sticks and rocks can replace any toys or games (except a frisbee – I haven’t found mother nature’s equivalent). Action figures? In the great outdoors, we are the action figures! Electronics – mostly inappropriate. Along these lines, we were on the road by 4:45.

I learned the hard way that kids need more than just clothes to have fun. I’ll never forget their pullups again. Here are a few additions to my camping-with-kids gear list:

  1. Pullups/diapers – Not just for the recently potty trained. Sometimes I wish I had one, on those cold rainy nights.
  2. Baby wipes – Camping is all about getting dirty, but there’s a limit to the type and amount. While I unpacked the van my daughter unpacked the fire pit with her hands. She emerged in a cloud of soot, like a chimney sweep. Wipes, though environmentally unfriendly, would have been so much easier than mother nature’s wipe, wet grass. And the alcohol “sanitary wipes” could double as firestarters!
  3. Extra clothes and shoes – While I set up the tent the kids set up a splash competition, throwing rocks into the river (video below). It’s nice to have a set of dedicated camping clothes, i.e., hand-me-downs and thrift store treasures, ones you wouldn’t mind throwing away or using as firestarters when you run out of wipes. Polyesters are optimal outdoor fabrics – lightweight and fast drying. Cottons, e.g., jeans, are heavier and harder to dry.
  4. Extra warmth – Kids are warm-blooded creatures. Either fill the tent with blankets, or strap them into their sleeping bags with bungee chords. Pajamas are necessary, contrary to what’s been said about less clothing being warmer at night. I’ve found that temperatures below 50° require additional nighttime accommodations (e.g., sweatshirts, socks, liners, winter bags). See here for more on sleeping gear.
  5. Good food – The kids should decide, partly, what constitutes good food: hotdogs, marshmallows, candy, soda, etc. Make camping as enjoyable as possible and they’ll come back for more.