The Rules of Childhood

“I called it first!” “No fair. Do-over.” “Ghost runner.” “Not it!” These are all phrases we’re familiar with as the rules of childhood. Childhood rules made life so much more enjoyable. No litigation or arguments. The rules were simple, fair, and everyone knew and respected them. Most of us at one time or another yearns for the days of our youth when life seemed simpler. We only had to worry about school, homework, and if our friend had gotten out of their punishment so they could play after school.

Adults often say things like “youth is wasted on the young” and bemoan the fact that children don’t seem to appreciate how good they have it. I believe that children are far wiser than we give them credit for and in some ways, far more wise than we are. I bemoan the fact that too many adults have grown up too completely. The lessons of our childhood would serve us well if only we knew how to apply them later in life.

Imagine if we could use the age old rules of childhood in adult situations. For instance, if you find yourself in a meeting at work and the boss says, “I have a very important project with a lot of paperwork and long hours that I need to assign to someone.” By childhood rules you instinctively yell out, “Not it!” Everyone else in turn follows your lead. Boom. Done deal. Problem solved. Because co-worker Bob had a doughnut in his mouth at the wrong moment and couldn’t yell out “Not it!” he gets the job.

And who here wouldn’t want to yell out, “Do over!” and get a free second chance at a situation you’ve screwed up? You’re out on a date, you have a few too many drinks, your lips get loose and you spill some horrific personal information upon your new romantic interest. Why can’t you call the person up the next day and demand a do-over? You get a new date, and a second chance at a making a good impression. Or how about in bed? Who hasn’t wanted a do-over at least once after something you’ve said or done? (Of course this doesn’t apply to me)

Children are blessed with graciously short memories and tons of forgiveness. Why do adults have to be so uptight in this regard? Adults hold grudges sometimes for the rest of their lives over perceived personal slights. I think little boys handle these situations with a maturity adults can only aspire to achieve. “Eddie told me that you said my bike was a piece of crap.” “Yeah, so what if I did? What are you gonna do about it?” Pow! Bam! Slam! Kerplooie! Fight over and they’re best friends later that afternoon. Nothing brings two people closer than a little fisticuffs.

What about the ghost runner? That wonderful childhood concept to replace an absent player. Wouldn’t that be a great concept for adulthood? Don’t call in sick when you don’t want to go to work. Send a ghost runner! “I’m sorry I can’t make it boss, but don’t worry. I’ll have a ghost runner at my desk today.” Rather be out with friends than with your significant other? Send your ghost runner! “Yeah, honey, I’m really sorry I can’t make it to your cousins wedding. I’ve got a ghost runner though!” Or for the ladies how about, “Oh, I’m sorry honey, I’ve got a headache. Why don’t you go have sex with my ghost runner. Again.”

23 responses to “The Rules of Childhood

  1. You forgot one of my favoirites: “Shot Gun!” Imagine being single and seeing a cutie at the bar. Instead of having that one friend who always seemed to c@ckblock everybody else, all you’d have to do was call shot gun and she was yours. I love this post!

  2. Or for the ladies how about, “Oh, I’m sorry honey, I’ve got a headache. Why don’t you go have sex with my ghost runner. Again.”Yer just aiming for us these days, eh Flip??

  3. Is a ghost runner sort of like Mr. Nobody? When Freddie and Katherine are at my place and someone “cuts the cheese”, no one ever admits to it. It’s always Mr. Nobody.Wouldn’t it be great to have a Mr. Nobody to blame everything on?

  4. My obssessiveness wouldn’t allow me to have a ghost runner!

  5. Is it against the rules to have more than one ghost runner? And do ghost runners still get paid “actual person” wages? Just thought I’d ask 🙂

  6. Ooooh, I’d get the ghost runner to do my housework !!Wouldn’t it be nice to say “eeny meeny miny moe” to chose whose turn it is to do whatever nasty job there was to do … yep, that’d work.Hope you are well.Great post.Take care, Meow

  7. ok seriouslyI read this and laughed so hard I spit my drink out. I always loved “I know you are but what am I” Now that will go over well when your boss calls you unorganized 🙂

  8. i say we just scrap the whole adult life and go back! with having three boys, i see this play out everyday. an unwritten rule at our house is the oldest child at home on the particular day gets the front seat of the car, you know seniority thing.

  9. I agree with you–children approach life with unbridled effervescense, and grudges are fleeting. I also think children might approach jobs with a positive attitude–something that is often foreign in the workplace.

  10. Hey flip, this was spot on. I’m imagining the staff meetings with the “not it”s or the “I know you are by what am I”s. Imagine how much work would actually get done if we weren’t stuck in committees, meetings, and always worried about being PC with everything and making sure everybody is equal. Just once, I’d love to do the equivalent of saying “these are my toys, play by my rules” or just picking up my toys and walking away in an equivalent office scenerio when I’ve been heading up a project and somehow or another have to share the credit for it by the people who’ve done little to no work helping it out. Spot on, old chap!

  11. A lot of people keep their children alive inside. You should hear some of the conversations my boyfriend and I have. We break into song and act like little kids. I wouldn’t have it any other way.-N

  12. Whats a ghost runner?

  13. Do overs would be nice

  14. I can see it now, ghostrunner having sex w/ each other – couples actually sleeping…I actually let my inner kid out all the time at work: when my students start acting really obnoxious, i do it right back to them… they get so freaked out by it they start behaving….as for my ghost runner – she will get to go on all my first dates.. i will sit in another part of the bar/resturant/etc – if it is going well we will switch during a run to the “poweder” room… oh, and she can get all my cramp days too!

  15. Ahhhhh. The do-over. That was always my favorite.

  16. Ego- I thought “shotgun” was when you called the passenger seat when your parents were driving. Isn’t it “dibs” when you spot a girl first and want the right to ask her out before your friends?Tai- Au contrair, there is only one way I aim for the ladies and it definitely isn’t malicious in any way.Josie- A ghost runner is just like Mr. Nobody, except he helps your team win with a lot less flatulence.Michelle- Everybody needs a ghost runner now and then. Your ghost runner will be just as obsessive. I promise.

  17. dzeni- You can have more than one ghost runner and they do get paid people wages.Meow- I’ve found that ghost runners aren’t very good at cleaning.Rachel- Thanks, I’m glad I made you laugh. You can beat the “I know you are…” comeback. What can anyone say to that?d.- We don’t have to scrap adulthood, just live it a little bit more like kids.

  18. Beth- Kids rules would be especially great at work.G-Man- Thanks for using the phrase spot on. I love that. When I wrote this I thought that you in particular would enjoy it.Natalia- It is wonderful to have a soul mate who shares a child-like attitude towards the world.Princess-

  19. Princess- You Canadians need help. A ghost runner is when kids are playing a game of kickball or baseball and you’re already on base when your turn to kick or hit comes up again. You simply say, “I’ve got a ghost runner on second.” Then you go kick and if you get to a base your ghost runner advances however many bases you made it from where he/she was. It’s like an invisible player.Jessica- In Phil’s world you always get do-overs.Question Girl- I don’t think a guy would ever ask for a ghost runner for sex.Linny- I think we all wish for do-overs in many situations in life. If only I could invent a time machine I’d be rich!

  20. Phil – Thats not even ENGLISH to me….Whats kickball??

  21. I am American, but I’ve never heard of a “ghost runner” either. I guess we must have always had enough kids to play that we did not need and imaginary friend to fill in for us. Fisticuffs? I had never heard that either…luv it and will incorporate it into conversation someday when my boy has his first playground altercation…“Yes, Ms. Jones, I understand that the boys have to learn to get along, but what’s wrong with a harmless little round of fisticuffs?” **giggling**I always liked “I am rubber, you’re glue…”

  22. Here are some that I still use frequently:“Dibs on that computer!”“Prove it!”“You are sooo dead.”“You’re not the boss of me!”and of course,“I know you are, but what am I?”

  23. I’m still not it man…oh and I called shotgun like three hours ago ..

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