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6:50 a.m. - 2002-04-24

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR UNCLES AND AUNTS

I was always under the impression that it didn't take much to be an Uncle.

Learn a few simple magic tricks and they're putty in your hands. Look the other way when they steal a cookie and they're fans for life.

Let them have unlimited time on the Play Station, give 'em pizza for breakfast and allow them to go three days without bathing and you're a demigod.

As the world's greatest Uncle Bob (just ask Google), I have decided to write a book on how to be a better Uncle. I call it "Uncle Bob's Helpful Little Uncle Tips and Survival Guide." What follows are some excerpts from the soon-to-be-discarded book.

The reassurance of an immediate arrival to a designated destination is not enough for a small child to delay car sickness. Saying "We'll be there in a minute" is fruitless. Stomachs do not listen to the voice of reason. They're tuned in to the sound of expired hot dogs barreling up their esophagus at 90 miles per hour.

No matter how tempting it may sound, do NOT let children ride the ceiling fan.

Fourteen year-old boys love Play Station. But they'll take a dog-eared Playboy from 1988 over Play Station any day of the week.

When your sister-in-law is packing clean, wet clothes into an overnight bag and says "Make sure you dry these as soon as you get home," take her seriously. Wet clothes that have been sitting in a vinyl bag for three days accumulate an odor akin to a barrel full of dead, cheese-covered skunks.

No matter how hard a child begs and pleads, you must force yourself to remember that "This child has never drank tequila before and in no way can be prepared for the taste."

Never take a child to a video store and tell him he can pick out one video game. Children take this responsibility very seriously and will give the decision many hours of deliberation before reaching a conclusion. Meanwhile, you'll be boring total strangers with your amateur reviews of "Zoolander".

Never expect a child to stop crying just because you tell it to do so while firmly applying a Vulcan nerve hold.

Never promise a child "Tomorrow we'll all go to Six Flags!". Even as a joke. Especially as a joke. Like the selection of a rented video game, children take Six Flags very seriously. If you make a mistake and happen to blurt this sentence out to a child, give him or her several swigs of NyQuil the next morning. When they wake up later that evening, tell them that they slept right through Six Flags and missed everything. That way, the joke is even funnier.

Just because a nephew says he can mow your grass for you for ten bucks doesn't necessarily mean he will perform the task to your standards. Nine times out of ten it will look as if Ronald Reagan has attempted to mow your yard.

When a child wants to do something really bad and says "Mommy always lets us do it at home", they are lying through their little baby teeth.

When a child has done something wrong and conveniently blames the dog for the action, the child will sit there and watch the dog take a beating for said action and not even blink an eye. Contrary to belief, there is no undying friendship between a child and an Uncle's old innocent dog.

While playing "Simon Says", don't get cute and say "Simon says go play with matches". Like rented video games and promised trips to Six Flags, Simon Says is taken extremely seriously amongst the junior movers and shakers.

When a child thinks he's broken a leg, he's usually wrong. When he thinks he's broken Uncle Bob's $650 DVD player with stereo surround sound, he's usually right on the money.

Nothing in life can prepare you on how to deal with a child racked with homesickness on top of a case of severe diarrhea in the middle of the night.

When children say they want a glass of milk, what they mean is they want a sip of milk and they want to let the rest curdle. When they say they want a hamburger and hot dog, what they mean is they want a few bites of a hamburger and then they want to pull your dog's tail until it growls and snaps at them, thus setting off a 15-minute crying jag.

No matter what you would think, children ages six and under are not very big fans of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series. They may act like they are and may even fool you into believing that they are. But the truth always comes out at bedtime.

As a rule, small children have no business attempting to fix major plumbing problems.

While spending the weekend with aunts and uncles, kids throw the "Children under 18 check with your parents before calling" rule right out the window. I once had a $182 phone bill with $150 of that going to the lovely folks at the WWF hotline offices.

I sure hope these tips help those Uncles and Aunts into understanding the mindset of the future leaders of America.

If not, hey....you could always take your belt off and whip the shit out of them.

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