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15 Reasons My Toddler Would Be a Penalty Card Magnet in the World Cup

It’s World Cup time — a time when people around the world gather at each other’s homes, in bars over pints and even in the streets to watch the excitement of the games unfold. I watch these talented athletes and am amazed by their physical prowess. And their non-stop energy. Like, they run and run and don’t seem to get tired. Actually, it reminds me of my toddler. Then I see them get yellow carded, and I think to myself, those things that warrant a yellow card for soccer players are pretty similar to what gets my daughter a time out. Here are reasons that my toddler would totally get carded and likely ejected from a game if she were playing in the World Cup.

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1. For taking her shirt off

In soccer, if you take your shirt off during the game, whether from flash anger, adrenaline-filled gloating or any other reason, you’re getting a yellow card. My daughter would be off the field in less than two minutes for this one, because that’s how long it would take for her to find a way to work her little arms up through the neck hole and shimmy the shirt down far enough to step out of it. But this wouldn’t so much be triggered by competitive adrenaline as it would be her total disdain for clothes.

2. For faking an injury

A professional soccer player and my toddler may be wearing different-colored and different-sized jerseys, but when it comes to faking an injury to get what they want, they are on the same team. And boy oh boy can it get dramatic.

3. For “unsporting behavior”

According to FIFA’s Laws of the Game, a player receives a yellow card for any “unsporting behavior.” I would say a good portion of a toddler’s day is filled with “unsporting behavior” ... or at least my toddler’s day is. Sure, it’s all about her testing boundaries and developing her personality, but scissor kicking mid-diaper change, unwrapping all my tampons and running into the kitchen at Maria’s Italian Restaurant is so not very “sporting” of her.

4. For “dissent by word or action”

Dissent by word: “NO! Mommy!” One long drawn-out scream, or a series of screams. But, usually one, deafening, drawn-out scream.

Dissent by action: Throwing herself on the ground. Wild stomping. Air punching. Food throwing. Refusal to get in the car seat.

5. For “persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game”

We’re trying our best to teach our 19-month-old daughter the Laws of (Our) Game. But as she’s learning, she’s also persistently infringing on said Laws of the Game. Sometimes she thinks the rules are funny, sometimes she’s totally complacent about them and sometimes the rules really piss her off. Yeah, refs would definitely send her little rear out.

6. For “delaying the restart of play”

Every play is delayed in this house. And re-start? Did we even get to start?

Yes, I would consider shoving string cheese into my hairdryer to be serious foul play.

7. For failure to respect the required distance (when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in)

She does NOT respect the required distance for anything. In fact, she may have little to no respect for personal space, and only limited depth-perception, in general.

8. For entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission

Sometimes, and by “sometimes,” I mean “most times,” she ends up going to wherever her attention is drawn. It’s called having little to no attention span. She’s a toddler, for goodness sake.

9. For deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission

How many times has my daughter tried to run to the candy aisle of the grocery store, from the waiting room of the doctor’s office or from her bedroom when its time to sleep?

And those are just her yellow card offenses. What about her red card offenses? If we went by FIFA’s Laws of the Game, here’s why she’d not only be carded, but sent off altogether.

1. For serious foul play

Yes, I would consider shoving string cheese into my hairdryer to be serious foul play.

2. For violent conduct

Kicking me in the throat during a tantrum, inadvertently or not, or biting my back skin out of excitement is definitely violent conduct. I’d hate to start calling her Little Suarez.

3. For spitting at an opponent or any other person

Try “spitting a chunk of chicken nugget at an opponent or any other person because she thinks it’s funny.” I’m pretty sure that’s worse.

4. For denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity

I hate to refer to myself as my daughter’s “opposing team” on this one, but it does seem that way when we’re talking “goalscoring” with my husband, which when there are opportunities to do so, she definitely denies.

5. For using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures

How about “NO!” with accompanying face palm.

6. For receiving a second caution in the same match

How about 7 or 8 cautions in the same match? “Match” meaning “hour.”

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Yes, perhaps one day she will be the next Ronaldo, but until then, she’s like a yellow and red card magnet, challenging the ref (me) with her big, feisty attitude. In the world of soccer, she’d probably be soccer’s bad boy. But in our world, she’s just being a toddler.

Image via Getty Images

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