I Con You Because I Love You

By Isabel Kallman

By Jennifer Mattern

My husband is an easy mark. I knew I was in big trouble the day I found him on his knees outside Kid #1’s locked bedroom door.

“Time-out is over,” he was yelling. “It’s time to come out of time-out.”


“I mean it,” he whimpered. “Just TWO MORE MINUTES in time-out and THAT’S IT.”

Behind her door, Kid #1 began singing to her Barbies, who were clearly in on the scam. The kid was good.

“Shouldn’t she want to get out of time-out?” I asked.

My husband slumped against the wall, humiliated. “I don’t know what the heck I’m even saying anymore.”

Since then, it’s been up to me to keep our devious pigtailed offspring from swindling us out of our remaining shreds of sanity. So when I got my hands on a little manual called How to Con Your Kid: Simple Scams for Mealtime, Bedtime, Bathtime—Anytime! I immediately barricaded myself in the bathroom.

Kid #1 banged on the door. “Why are you laughing?”

“Mommy’s learning how to outsmart you,” I said. “Go away.”

How to Con Your Kid sports the tagline “The Book Your Children Don’t Want You to Read.” My children don’t want me to read any books without Disney Princesses on the cover, but this one was definitely worth sneaking off to the bathroom with.

The authors (who are behind the bestselling Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook series—perfect credentials) offer solid advice for outwitting your kids while keeping them (and you) smiling. Categories include “Laying the Groundwork,” “Basic Cons,” and “If They’re On to You.” I don’t want to give too much away, but if your kids are like my kids, i.e. won’t keep their pants on/won’t eat anything green/yell “POOPIEHEAD” at Grandma, you’re in good hands.

If all else fails, the authors recommend harnessing your kids’ mojo with some creative lyricizing: ‘Hush Little Baby’ morphs into ‘Brush Little Baby’ for the tangly crowd; ‘Row Your Boat’ becomes ‘Lube Your Arm’ for sunscreen-phobes. And their ‘Superfreak’ totally beats the original: She’s a very freaky girl/The kind who cannot get her words out.

Time to get ’em dressed. I go for it. “Welcome to Mommy’s Clothing Boutique!” Kid #1 takes the bait, but Kid #2 scowls and flees the scene, shrieking “DADDY! DADDY!”

“I guess she didn’t like your clothes,” says Kid #1.

I’m sure they’ll cover this in the sequel.

For a daily dose of Jennifer Mattern’s savvy humor visit her popular parenting web log, breed ’em and weep

About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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