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One day, my website had a technical glitch that knocked out my contact form. Fed up with my IT guy, I blurted out:

Oh to *#@% with this! Just remove the entire foolish thing and replace it with these words: “Only cool people please. Email me directly at [email protected].”

Brash move.

But I’m rarely confused with someone who is even-tempered. Anyways, next thing I know, I’m getting emails from people like:

  • Hey Sara, I think I’m cool enough to email you…not sure…
  • Was this email “cool” to you?
  • Here’s an idea for you. Let me know if you think it’s cool or not.

I didn’t intend for this to happen. The use of the word “only” became an automatic qualifier.

“A ha!” I said, “now let me see if this gem of a discovery can bring order to total chaos!”

As my readers know, I have one potato, two potato, three potato four – all under seven years old. What’s that rhyme about the woman in a shoe? I started replacing utterances such as:

  • Who’s banging their laptop with Ziggy’s toy truck? I’m not buying you another one.
  • You can’t have cake until you eat your broccoli.
  • If all four of you jump on Daddy’s back on the same time like that, we are going to end up in the emergency room.

With these:

  • We only touch our laptops with soft hands, that way our computers are nice and safe.
  • Remember that we only have dessert after we’ve eaten all our healthy food! Imagine how big and strong you’ll grow!
  • You can all have a turn, but only one of you can jump on Daddy’s back at a time.

Like magic, they started complying with my requests.