Here are a few rules — or very strong suggestions — for taking kids to football games:

Don't take a baby to the game. I don't care how well behaved the child is, it's going to be too hot/too cold, the noise is going to bother him/her, the baby is going to cry and you're going to annoy the people around you.

If you can't afford to hire a baby sitter, you can't afford football tickets. (Or try trading baby-sitting with other parents.)

And, for heaven's sake, don't do what I did way back in 1991. Don't take 6-month-old twins to a game.

We left the game early that day. And I NEVER leave games early.

How old is old enough to go to a game? Depends on the kid. I had one who was fascinated by football when he was 4; another who was iffy when she was 8.

Take the child to the restroom before the game. Take the child to the restroom at halftime. Even if they tell you they don't have to go. Especially if your seats are up in the nosebleed section.

You'll see more of the game and annoy the people around you a lot less.

Same goes with food and drink. During the game is not the time to be getting snacks — it's downright rude to make other people miss the action as you squeeze past them over and over again.

Don't take more than one kid to a game when they're young. Or maybe one per adult. You don't want to be outnumbered.

Make it clear from Day 1 that you're there to watch the game. That leaving your seats umpteen times is absolutely not acceptable.

Children can be trained. My kids would rather wait until halftime to get something to eat than get the stink-eye from me.

Pay as much attention to the child as you do to the game. If you answer all their questions and explain what's going on, they're far more likely to take an interest in the game. And they'll be better behaved.

Be prepared to leave the game if you have to. Don't be like those people who refuse to take their crying baby out of a movie theater — go home.

NEVER send a bunch of kids without adult supervision. You've all seen how a pack of 9-, 10- and 11-year-old boys act, right? It's not completely their fault. They are, after all, 9-, 10- and 11-year-old boys.

But they're not going to pay attention to the game. So they'll find other ways to amuse themselves. And those ways will involve obnoxious, bratty behavior that will annoy everyone around them.

Which would explain the dirty looks you're going to get when you use the tickets when the next game rolls around.

(And, yes, this happened to me. Recently. Grrrrrr. ... )