How To Be a Cool Guy

My son stole my sunglasses yesterday morning, because "he needed two" for a school event. Witness the devastating bug-like awesomeness below. Bam!

In fact, for better or worse, sometime in first grade, he became obsessed with the idea of being cool. "I wanna be cool, mom! Cool!" Cute was decidedly out, unfortunately. So my husband and I asked him what it meant to be cool--we're always game for these key childhood development milestones. Toilet training was such a blast.

Soooo ... my son's understanding of cool: wearing all black (preferably leather), riding in a limo, wearing sunglasses (ideally more than one), lifting weights, saying as little as possible--and leaning. Yes, my friends, it was like the ghost of Jordan Catalano had reached out from beyond the TV grave and whispered in his tender stuffie-loving ear: "lean, my boy, lean."

I tried to find some articles or books for boys about being cool that weren't so Catalano-esq--I'd really like him to speak and have good posture, on the whole--but Googling "how to be cool for boys" lands you in some wormhole of old GQ articles where ... men wear all black, hide behind sunglasses, pump iron on top of their muscle cars and, yes, lean.

Thankfully, my child was still at an age where he'd listen to his parents, and even believe us sometimes. So I wrote a quick little list of 10 rules for being a cool guy. They're corny, they're a little over the top. But you know, he took them seriously, and I can still whip them out a couple years later as he continues to struggle with navigating perilous boy culture. After I got over the annoyance of having no sunglasses yesterday, it occurred to me that I should share my list in case other parents have little kids who want to be cool (my daughter rightfully pointed out that these rules apply to both boys and girls, though I can't say she cares much about the topic). And to see if other adults have additions to the list. (But before you say anything--no, I'm not yet willing to tell him about the inherent uncoolness of Crocs, so please go easy there.)


How To Be a Cool Guy: 10 Rules for Boys

The Icy Truth

OK. So you’ve finally figured out that your parents maybe aren’t cool. Case in point: they like to take naps. What?!! Anyway, the key thing to remember: don’t let your adults hold you back. YOU can be cool. Yes, even you … (well, at least until you’re an adult). Just follow our 10 totally foolproof, completely guaranteed* steps to being cool, and whizz pop POW, you’re going to be a walking icicle! But please, please! Go easy on your parents, Mr. Cool Guy in Training. After all, they used to change your diapers.

* 0% guarantee, maybe not foolproof actually.

Rule 1: Wear sunglasses (or two or three). But I bet you already knew this, right?!

Rule 2: Be YOU. It’s exhausting and uncomfortable to wear someone else’s shoes, underwear and brain all day, every day. It’s OK to try to fit in, but not at the expense of being your true self.** Better to be you, even if not everybody gets you at first. (Besides, have you SEEN the inside of your friends' underwear recently?!!!!)

[clears throat and points at the next rule]

Rule 3: Know the difference between getting dirty (cool) versus being stinky (NOT cool). Play hard, but be sure to take a bath, wipe your butt and brush your teeth. OK? 

[CUE LARGE FLASHING NEON UP ARROW. Continue only once sufficiently hypnotized ...]

Rule 4: LAUGH at yourself every day (and night). You’ll never be as awesomely you as you can be if you don’t try your hardest at lots of stuff ... and fail along the way a lot. Just laugh it off and try again (and again, and again). I mean, you wouldn't BELIEVE how terrible this list of rules was just a few minutes ago--oh, you can? Well, ha ha ha ...

[Quick! Skip to the next rule!!!]

Rule 5: Be rich … in friendships and experiences. Ever notice that Money and Misery start with the same letter. And that Money rhymes with Dummy? Hmmm ...

[But feel free to return your allowance to your parents whenever you'd like, OK kid?!]

Rule 6: Bored people are boring. So don’t be a bore. Be the kid who invents the cool games for everyone to play or who tells great stories, etc. Don’t be the kid who can’t figure out what to do with himself except sit around picking his nose. No one wants to be with that kid.

[Unlike rule seven, nose picking is one of those PRIVATE things you should do in PRIVATE, PRIVATELY. Are you in PRIVATE now with that finger, oh picky one?]

Rule 7: Powerful muscles are pretty cool, but a powerful heart is THE MEGA. Pump some heart iron every day by talking about your feelings with your friends and family.** Otherwise, your body can get clogged up -- and sometimes even hurt! -- with mystery feelings that paralyze your heart. Pro Tip: robots are notoriously bad at making friends. Like, really bad. (Except Wall-E. Much respect to Wall-E.) ***

Rule 8: Be the superhero of small things. Speak up for the people and animals around you. Bullies are awful, but so are the kids who go along with the bully. Put your brave face on and tell mean kids to stop, even if they're your friend. Feel free to wear a cape, if it helps you. Though make sure you wash it occasionally, alright?

[See rule three, just one more time, pleeeeeeease. And then again until it really stinks in. HA! Get it?!!!]

Rule 9: Listen with your ears, eyes and heart to other people, especially people who don’t look like you. Say hi, and ask questions to start conversations. You may just end up with a new, awesome friend. Pro Tip: Other people love to talk about themselves, and love compliments.

[But WHATEVER you do, please do NOT ask them about picking their nose, OK kid?!!!]

Rule 10: Shake your booty! Dancing makes your whole body feel amazeballs, and is strangely contagious. Let loose with your moves when you hear that music, and others will join you. But even if they don’t, who cares? You’re having a PARTY!

** Please always talk to an adult you trust if you ever feel unsafe being yourself or talking about your feelings around other people.

*** Though we still love them and welcome them as our supreme overlords.

Wow, there you are, kids! Now you know the TOP SECRET TIPS for being a cool guy. So take your finger out of your nose (no, really!), put on your sunglasses (or two or three) and go forth and enjoy your life as a COOL GUY, you crazy icicle!


Hmmm ... after reading this list, it's clear that it needs illustrations. I can't draw, but maybe I'll try add some evocative stick figures to this soon and turn it into a pdf. Right after I drain the laundry machine filter, right?