The power of the jinx

When I was a kid it was simple: You said something at the same time as a friend? You said jinx. And then you giggled.

If you crossed your fingers behind your back, you couldn’t be jinxed. Or was that cooties?

I forget. I’m old.

Today, it’s gotten far more complicated, with an entire series of jinxes, sub-jinxes, peripheral jinxes, and various rituals and remedies for each one. A plain Jinx now requires you to say the other person’s name 3 times before they can speak. Then there’s some sort of a thing called Pickle Jinx which has to do with saying the name three times, followed by a proclamation like “Your name is Sage for the rest of your life!”

Or more classically, “Your name is Poopyhead for the rest of the day!”

Sometimes you can talk after, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes the jinx is passed onto someone else. All I know is the person who gets jinxed gets angry, purses her lips tight, and often stomps her feet, furious that such a horrible punishment has befallen her, simply by saying “orange juice” at the same time as her sister in the diner when asked what she will have to drink.

Fortunately if you don’t want to be jinxed, you can knock on the table, and whoever knocks first can’t be jinxed. But not always. I’m fairly convinced my kids make the rules up as I go along.

And then there’s something called a Rainbow Jinx which I just learned this morning after getting yelled at for asking the kids to brush their teeth. According to Thalia, “A Rainbow Jinx is when, if you get jinxed, then if someone unjinxes you by saying your name three times then the person who unjinxed you now can’t talk.”

As in this world, evidently no good deed goes unpunished in the jinx world either.

Are you following this better than I am? Do these jinx rules have regional differences?

And more importantly, do kids still do cooties, or do I have to wait until third grade til that one?


39 thoughts on “The power of the jinx”

  1. To my knowledge, it is not that complicated at my kids’ school here in Pittsburgh. The standard seems to be ” jinx, you owe me a soda” or ” jinx, you owe me a soda. Lock”. Sometimes. ” Lock double lock, for the rest of the day etc. The only purpose of the added parts seems to be to cause arguments.

      1. “You owe me a soda” is the current jinx standard among 5th graders that I know.

  2. My kids have something called Waterfall Jinx — I have no idea how it works but they say it all the time. And then there’s the whole complicated world of Punch Buggy, which involves specific sayings, different rules for yellow cars, and something magical that happens when you find ten punch buggies. Confusing.

  3. Definitely, “Jinx you owe me a Coke/soda.” Then the soda debtor says “Switchie power to _____,” who now owes a soda to the Jinxer. No sodas have ever been exchanged.

  4. My kids do the “You owe me a soda” thing, too. Which makes me lose my mind. Not because of the whole nonstop complicated jinxing, but because we’re Southerners. For pete’s sake, kids, we don’t drink sodas! WE SHOULDN’T EVEN EVER UTTER THAT WORD! It’s Coke, dammit!

  5. I’ll go you one better: “Jinx, Black Magic!” It’s the say-your-name-3x rule plus a seemingly ever-changing array of secondary conditions that THIS mom just can’t get straight. Doesn’t matter though. I overrule them all and speak again with a classic rationale: “Because I’m your mother!” Win. =)

  6. My kids just say “Jinx!” and that seems to be the end of it. But they have a MILLION-GAJILLION rules for everything else so we still don’t get off easy.

  7. Amazingly enough, my 1st and 4th grader got into throwes of jinxing just 2 weeks ago. Is there a “Jinx Fairy” that visited all of North America?

    It was like walking on eggs around here: “Jinx! Jinx! I said it first!!!! Triple-jinx, jinx, everything you say jinx! MOM! JINX! MOOOOMMMM!!! Jinx, triple jinx!…” You got the point.
    I barely figured first jinx rules, now they are convoluted and there seems to be endless array of sub-jinxes. In our neck of the woods, triple-jinx seems most popular, but I have no clue what it stand for. Saying name once still saves you, but then the endless games of saying the name at the same time, so that jinxed person can stay jinxed, which quickly escalates into “MOM!”

    I’m usually spared, as “Moooooommmmm!” is uttered at least once every 5 seconds. One of the countless benefits of being a parent – never jinxed!

  8. i’m so terrified. my brain is fried just reading these comments–my kids are only 3 and 8 months, so this is all stuff that i have to look forward to someday. so many RULES. i can barely find my sunglasses and keys in the morning, and if my head is busy trying to wrap itself around this kind of stuff i’ll never find anything or get out of the house ever again!

  9. This reminds me of the elaborate set of rules related to ‘bussing’ the table at sleepover camp. Put your finger on your nose – it means this. Last one to do it – it means that. etc.

    They tried to instill these policies at home. I couldn’t follow it all, so it is just – your turn to clear, your turn to load with no fingers on the noses.

  10. Jinx you owe me a soda, no turntables. And then, “This soda machine is out of order. Please insert another quarter.”

  11. In our house (town, school), it’s Jinx, black hole, knock on wood. And then you can’t speak until someone says your name 3 times.

    It’s my 10 year old who jinxes me and my 6 year old who ALWAYS comes to my rescue by saying MOM, MOM, MOM . . .

    Although, I suppose if just 5 minutes went by, I would be un-jinxed anyway because my children are constantly saying Mom! Mum? Mumma? MOMMY!
    (especially if I just sat down to relax for a second)

  12. My kids seem to shout “Snap” at each other when they start to say the same thing and then start counting. It is at this point they lose me. I think it must be our local update on jinx, because the first one to shout, Snap then holds some mysterious power…

  13. Jinx rules are fairly easy here. It’s the punch buggy rules that I can’t keep up with. It changes by color of the Bug.

  14. Jinxes don’t count if there’s a roof over your head, can’t believe you didn’t know that 🙂 I can’t keep up but I haven’t heard any except the coke one, and that was from my own childhood. Mine is mostly followed by, “mom, don’t say his name!)

    @Issa – I am so glad our punch buggy days are over, my husband was the worst.

    1. Exactly!

      I’m not sure when it started, but if one of the kids says “jinx” then someone else says “no jinxing under the roof” and it ends. Of course, I have not been present for an outdoors jinx, so perhaps that has complex rules…

  15. I teach second and I want to know has the rest of the US been visited by the “cheese touch” fairy? Cuz oh my Gawd do I hate the cheese touch. And the magic touch, and the touch touch. If its only a Rockville MD thing then do yourselves a favor and stay away so it doesnt spread…

  16. What about counting to ten after you say jinx?!?! The first person that gets to 10 wins! Or something. I can’t remember. That’s what we used to do in the NYC ‘burbs, though. Thankfully there were no pickle jinxes.

    Is it just a reflection of our complicated our children’s lives are as compared to our own?

  17. Yes the jinx fairy must have visited all of north America because my kids had a long complicated jinx session yesterday, which I could NOT follow. I actually started to say “when I was your age…” but caught myself. But, when I was their age, it was just “jinx buy me a coke” (even though in MN we only drink “pop”) and the jinxed person’s name had to be said only once to allow him/her to speak again.
    Also, after reading all the comments about punch buggy, I’m wondering if you all really mean “slug bug?” 🙂

    1. I agree!!! LOL around here (WV) it’s pop not soda. And I’ve never heard it called punch buggy. It’s slug bug!! My nephew “purple magic” jinxed me today. He said that meant he was aloud to punch me if I talked. To which I replied “WHAT?! Punch me?!” And BAM I got punched. I talked. 😂

  18. I don’t think they still have cooties—I think they have “cheese touch” (thanks to that book about a miserable kid in school—I forget the name).

    And, maybe this is a Western Mass thing, but we just said, “Buy me a milkshake” (or was it soda) when we spoke at the same time. Ahhh, such simpler times.

  19. As a grandparent of two wonderful, energetic, laughing girls, I love to be jinxed. Whatever the rules are – and they tell me as we go along, it is a wonderful thing to see them smiling and giggling. I think it has something to do with control and power – their ability to make others bow to their commands. Whatever it is, no matter how often it happens, it makes me smile, especially when they giggle.

  20. I have often wondered where some of these things start and what sort of influences regions have upon them.

    The rules are definitely different from when I was a kid.

  21. I love this post – so cute! And brought back memories, fer sher. We used to say “A pinch and a poke, you owe me a Coke!” when we’d jinx one another. I thought I was hot stuff by adding my standard reply, “A hit and a smack, you owe me a Big Mac!” Good times…good times…

  22. My boys say jinx, double jinx, triple jinx (usually in unison), etc., and lead up to infinity jinx. So you are jinxed forever. Game over.

  23. I usually hear “jinx” which then gets doubled, tripled, and then put into “infinity” as well. No hard feelings ensue. HOWEVER, with Punch Buggy I got tired of everyone slugging each other and banned it after some visiting kids took the “punch” part too seriously. I changed the game (in case they still felt like they needed to play it) to “Punch Find A Red 2010 Ford F100 Pickup Truck.” Needless to say, the whole thing faded away.

  24. While my kids aren’t old enough to have taught me the variety of jinxes (yet) I do recall from my day, “circle circle dot dot now I’ve got my cootie shot” that should keep you safe from any and all cooties you will encounter.

  25. My kids also say “Jinx! You owe me a soda!” which is ridiculous since we live in Canada and drink pop, not soda. I do recall saying “Jinx! You owe me a beer!” in my highschool/university days.

  26. jinx this jinx that… its crazy! I have 6 kids and they all LOVE it! I love the game too…. in a way… I like the cheese touch… but do I have to use real cheese? I don’t understand it… oh and the pickle jinx…. what’s that about guys? Being a mom… its rough, but I’m glad to have you all by my side. please help!? oh and how do I get my little one to stop jinxing everyone?

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