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Posts Tagged ‘boys’

“Stop and Frisk” is for Idiots! or how to make kids hate cops forever

friskImagine for a moment that my son, Sandor, who is about to turn 14, his adorable girlfriend and his best friend, Sam  are walking down Central Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  It’s Saturday and they are going to see a 2 pm movie.  They laugh and push each other as they walk toward the movie theater.

A police officer pulls up next to them and gets out of the car.

“Hold up a second. I need to talk to you guys.”

Sandor looks at his phone, he doesn’t want to miss the movie.  His girlfriend suddenly  looks pale  nervous. She squeezes his hand. He squeezes back.

“I need to see some ID.”

They all shake their heads. “We’re only 14, we don’t have any ID. We’re just going to a movie.”

The officer smiles, but it’s not friendly.”Well, I guess you’re gonna be a little late late. We got a call about some kids spay painting a building just a few blocks from here. One of them is a blond. Where are you guys coming from?”

“Our house, right up the street.”

The questions go on and on an on.

“What’s the address?”

“Where are you going?”

“Who are your parents? Do they know where you are?”

“Where were you an hour ago?”

“Is that paint on your jeans?”

“Why are you in such a hurry?”

Sandor isn’t as nervous now, but he’s starting to get angry. “It wasn’t us, we’re going to the movie. Seriously. You can’t do this. We weren’t doing anything wrong.” He’s wondering, why is this cop hassling them?

“Yes sir,” the Officer says. ” I can do this. I need both you to put your hands on the back of my car.”

“Why?” Sandor asks and his girl friend starts to cry a little.

“Just do what your told, kid,” the cop says and pushes both boys against his car.  He kicks their legs apart, really wide.

The girl friend pulls out her phone and starts to call her dad but the police officer says, “Please put you phone away.” The girl does what she’s told.

The officer runs his hand up and down their legs, inside and out, around the waist band of their jeans. He reaches inside Sam’s boots, then checks the front pockets of their jeans and the pockets of their hoodies.

A car load of teenagers honk and holler as they pass by.

Then the officer gets a call on his radio. He says, “Don’t move” to the boys. Sandor is so mad and humiliated, he wills himself not to cry in frustration.  He wants to hug his girlfriend and tell her it’ll be ok.

He can read the words on the side of the police car “Protect and Serve.”He looks at Sam, he wants him to see those words too. But Sam is gone. His face is ashen  blank, absolutely empty. His eyes look as though he’s shut down.  Sandor knows that look. It’s how Sam looks when he’s beyond angry, when he’s thinking about revenge and getting even. It’s his game face. Sam never lets anyone see his real emotions. But he never forgets.

The officer returns, “Alright guys, your good to go. They picked up the kids working on another building. Stay out of trouble.” And then he’s back in his squad car and gone.

Sam and Sandor don’t know what to say. But now, at the age of 14, they both hate and fear cops.  The officer humiliated, embarrassed and violated them. He made them feel weak and powerless in front of the entire town, in front of the girl, and for no reason. This feeling will never leave the boys.

That’s what the “Stop and Frisk” policy does to young men. I understand it might lead to a lot of arrests. But      “Stop and Frisk” will to turn an entire generation of African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics and whites kids against law enforcement. The officers will never be trusted or respected. Just feared and hated.  And that’s not what cops want.

“Stop and Frisk” is a lazy and easy way to make arrests. But it will destroy any hope of having minority communities work with the police.

Our Law Enforcement Officers deserve better and our young people will demand better, or seek their revenge for being humiliated.

 

  • This story is one hundred percent a work of fiction.

The Beauty of Boyhood

flip-out-2“Mom, we’re gonna go jump on the trampoline.”

“But it’s raining.”
“That’s why we’re going.”
The three thirteen year old boys thundered out the door in tee shirts and basketball shorts.

I made a fresh cup of coffee. When I heard Aries, our German Sheppard, barking, I looked out the window. She was on the trampoline with the boys in the rain. They were all laughing and she barked deliriously.

I opened the door. “Hey, get the dog off. She’s got claws and will shred the mat.”

Two of the boys said “yes ma’am” as they all coaxed the dog off the trampoline. But she jumped back up with them instantly, refusing to be cut out of the fun. Drops of water flew from the trampoline mat and off their soggy heads, every time they jumped.
I called the dog and told her to go under the porch.

For almost an hour the three boys wrestled and bounced in the rain. They peeled off their wet tee-shirts and threw them into the grass.

The tallest boy is a redheaded football player. He loves to tell us extraordinary facts about “gingers”. He’s very proud of his hair. The muscular boy with dark hair is a musician and vice president of the 8th grade Beta club. The smallest of the boys has bright blond hair. He’s very quiet but he’s the daredevil of the three.

They start playing a complicated game called Dead Man. It involves a blindfold, counting and body slams.

Listening to them laugh and talk trash, I realize this moment is Boyhood’s Last Stand. This is the golden moment and will be gone very soon.

Right now, in the rain, they do not have a single dark thought or worry. Two of the boys have girlfriends. They hold hands and hug on the middle school play ground. The boys sneak up behind the girls and pick them up, an act of affection and a show of strength.
The girls laugh and squeal and demand the boys put them down.

The boys do the same thing to each other, but there are choke holds and punching too.

Soon, very soon, there will be kissing and holding on desperately. There will be emotions, passion, love, anger, joy and frustration. They will still

have fun but will not play as much. And thoughtless joy will fade.

I should tell them to come inside and dry off. There is thunder in the distance. But I can’t do it. It will end too quickly on its own.

 

Please leave a comment or email me. I’d love to hear from you. And if your interested having advertising on the page let me know. I’m pretty cheap. hampoland@gmail.com

Crushing the 7th Grade Gentleman

fightingLast night, after getting the coolest hair cut ever, Sandor got a phone call.

I could only hear his side on the conversation.

“He said what?”

“Oh man, yeah, I’ll handle that in the morning.”

“Thanks, Buddy”  he said as though he were in a business meeting. Then he hung up.

As casually as I could, I asked what was going on.

Sandor said, “This new kid at school he called my friend Katie a name.” Then he leaned over and said, “He called her a slut.”

“That’s horrible! ” I responded. These kids are only in seventh grade.

I thought about the girls in his class. Seventh grade is tough and wonderful.  All the girls are going through a really beautiful and hopelessly awkward phase. Soon they will all look like through breeds but for now….

Alex jumped in “If you get in a fight, you’ll get suspended. Do not let that happen.”

“Yes sir. I know. I’d never throw the first punch. But I can’t let him go around saying that kind of stuff.”

I looked at him. “So what are you gonna do?”

And then with a calm, almost dismissive air he assured me, “I’ll handle it Mom.”

At that point I wanted to demand details but I have to let him be a man, a good man and a gentleman.

If I stop him from defending this girl because I’m worried about the outcome and his future, what message am I sending? If I squash his attempt to be honorable and a gentleman what kind of man will I be left with. One that looks away when somebody is being bullied or robbed. Who avoids conflict because they don’t want to get in trouble.

It’s a fine line parents walk now. Zero tolerance has left little room for heroics .

But the truth is, when I listen to his 7th grade stories it’s the hot headed boys who throw off their back packs and start swinging, who are in most of the fights and get in trouble. Something offends them and they all start throwing the haymakers.

Sandor knows how to punch but he’s also very reflective. He thinks things over, sometimes too much.  I guess I need to relax. If he says he’s gonna handle it…..it will be handled.

 

 

Training Our Boys To Be Losers

absEvery magazine,  poster and ad campaign seems focused on helping our girls with their self esteem. There are  lots and lots of commercials about making sure our girls feel good about themselves. And I’m glad. Girls are brilliant, beautiful creatures. As my oldest daughter Mary says, “I’m awesome, have you met me?”

But our boys are being left in the ditch. These days a lot more girls go to college than boys and that difference is increasing every year. We spend a lot of time and money telling girls they are smart and can do anything but when was the last time you saw an ad on tv encouraging boys?

We tell girls their bodies are beautiful, no matter what size. But not the boys. Trust me, boys worry, a lot. I can name half a dozen 12 and 13 year old guys who have been in my kitchen recently and made fun of their own soft bellies, skinny arms, lack of defined abs or puny legs.

Unlike lots of girls with the same issues, guys tend to make fun of themselves before others do. The danger of boys lacking self esteem is they act out in a different way than girls.  Girls cry or get catty, boys start fights and turn into bullies when they think they aren’t good enough. Or they simply disappear into the back ground.

In school, boys with muscles are absolutely more popular than the smart guys. But that’s nothing new.

But the truth is a many athletic guys peak in high school. They are super stars that fizzle as adults. And because no one encouraged them to develop their brains as well as their bodies, they go on to live average lives . For some that’s great, but many of these guys are way too smart to be stuck in minimum wage jobs.

All the time,perfectly good boys, intelligent boys, tell me they aren’t smart. They tell me they are good at sports or gaming so they don’t plan on going to college or a trade school. They are already planning on small lives and smaller careers. And nobody really seems to be correcting them. Girls on the other hand we push and encourage constantly.

Several years ago when Sandor was in 3rd or 4th grade Alex and I went to a “Parents Math Night.” Teachers explained the math they were working on so we could better help our kids at home.  All the parents there had daughters. We were the only ones there for a male student.

When it comes to boys, Bs and Cs are ok, as long as they are passing. That’s about the best we can ask from our boys, right? Why don’t we insist our boys strive for excellence, for brilliance, for their best?

Parents, if you want your boys to be successful you have to build them that way. Teach them to shake hands,and insist they have good manners and be respectful. Boys who are respectful and know how to shake hands are able to get jobs and then be successful. Because bosses like those boys.

Society wants us to encourage our girls to succeed. So, parents you must push your boys to be more than strong. They need to be smart and hard working. And then you will have a successful man.

Boys Being Boys…Let Them

black eyeI recently read a blog entitled “Why Our Sons Wear Pink”.  A mom explained why she encourages her sons to be sensitive and gentle. She thinks people like boys who are rough and jock like.  But I think things are going in the opposite direction.

A lot of folks get mad because little boys act like little boys. They are too rough, too tough and too violent. And it’s not politically correct.

But boys are boys and girls are girls. (That’s coming from a woman who’s a terrible example of a girl. I box, love MMA, can’t wear heels and never really liked dolls) We don’t get mad at little girls for being too “girly” . We don’t get mad at girls for wearing pink and taking care of their baby dolls. We don’t fuss at them for being  too nurturing.

But boys take a beating for being too aggressive and too violent, for pretending to shoot things and beat up dudes. I love it when my youngest son plays in his room, when he draws and listens to music. But I try to be patient when he’s a screaming, hollering crazy guy running around in the yard with his bb gun and jumping off the playhouse onto the trampoline with a  sword. When he and his friends literally pick each other up and smash each other on the ground…most of the time it’s ok. That’s what boys do.

Sandor and his friends come home laughing about the terrible things they do to each other. That doesn’t happen much in girl world.

I’m the first parent to jump into a hot messy situation about a kid that’s a bully or too aggressive. When that happens I start calling parents and principals. I call kids out that I don’t even know cause I hate punks.

Boys and men were  made to be hunters and protectors. Girls were designed to take care of their young. Sometimes the boys have to take care of the babies and the girls have to go hunt down dinner, so a person who can do both is invaluable. But for the most part that’s how humans were designed. Seahorses and birds are different but we are humans.

I agree we have to encourage our boys to be sensitive and compassionate. We must teach them to respect everybody, not just the alpha males.  Parents  need to encourage boys to appreciate the arts, music and literature. But as a society we need to stop blasting our boys for being boys.

When my oldest child, Jack, was born I was a very tan hippie chick who hated guns.  I wouldn’t let Jack play with guns…ever.  So ,the boy turned everything, from Legos to bannanas, into a gun. My daughter, Mary, who is 16 months younger had absolutely no use or interest in guns.

The truth is boys work out problems differently than girls and sometimes that involves pushing and shoving. Being aggressive isn’t mandatory for boys but for most, it’s part of their DNA

Parents, this is on you, insist and encourage your boys to be respectful and kind but don’t beat them up if they want to sword fight, wrestle, and hunt down bad guys. Let those boys be boys.

Side note: If you’re child is mean or a bully, make him stop and don’t make excuses. Don’t use the line “he’s just being a boy” if he’s actually an obnoxious punk.

 

How To Make Your Kid Do Right

textingWhen Mary was two or three she developed the habit of sometimes  pitching some whooping, screaming crying fits in the grocery story when she didn’t get a treat she wanted. (I can already hear half of you saying, “whoop her butt” but I’m not like that.)  She would continue thrashing and crying in the buggy as we crossed the parking lot. I’d hiss  all the cliché mom stuff, “Stop that right now or blah blah blah.”

Then one day she started her “possessed by a demon” act and I pulled my camera out  right there in the parking lot and took a picture, with the flash. She was shocked into silence for a second and then continued with only half the passion.

The next time she melted down I just smiled.  She slowed down then tried to come back even louder. I started laughing. Then she got really mad, I kept on smiling and laughing as I put the groceries in the car. She continued wailing, then  downgraded to a snivel and finally cried softly as I put her in her car seat. Then she was silent. She had been defeated!!

At the age of two her baby brain figured out her bad behavior wasn’t upsetting me and therefore wasn’t working

I have used that exact same method over and over for the past twenty seven years on kids who were two, ten, thirteen and sixteen. It still works…most of the time.

Do not let your kid bully, trick or coheres you into giving in. You are the parent.

Sandor loves to ride his dirt bike on Sunday afternoons.  He waits all week for his three hours on that bike. A couple of weeks ago I told him he had to put his clean clothes away (in the appropriate drawers, not crammed into one) and clean up his room before we would leave.

Thirty minutes latter he said he was finished but that was not true. His room was still a mess, the bed was made but it looked like there was a bear sleeping in it.  His floor was still littered with legos, drum sticks and junk.

“Nope, you know that’s not clean,” I said smiling. “I’m gonna take a shower.”

“But Mom, I could have been out there an hour ago,” he whined. “How about I’ll clean it up perfectly when I get home?”

“Nope.”  At that point some kids will melt down, throw a fit and get mad. THAT’S OK! Let them self destruct but don’t react. Just walk away and take a nice long shower.  Eventually, like Mary in the shopping cart, they will realize that button doesn’t work anymore. And if he misses riding his dirt bike this week, he’ll probably get his room clean next week.

“Please Mom?” Sandor said.  I just shook my head, kind of hugged him and smiled. He knew it was a classic case of Hampoland’s “yes for a yes” policy. When you say yes to me, I’ll say yes to you and we’re both happy.

Kids are smart, they know how to get to you, they will keep doing what works in to get what they want. And they know if you don’t stick to your guns they will win every time. Either you have to train them or they are training you.  So you have to stand firm, but it’s a whole lot easier and more effective if you don’t get mad, sad and frustrated. If you do that, you’re punishing yourself….and that’s not the point. You just want to make your kid do right.

One more thought, take control as soon as possible cause when they get older things will get a lot worse.

PS: If you know a publisher or literary agent who might like me……

Raging Kids and Blind Parents

rageSandor, who is 12 and I sat on the couch for almost twenty minutes watching videos on youtube of kids “raging” over video and computer games. There are literally thousands of them.

I learned that “raging” is what they call it when a kid, usually a boy, throws a massive, volcanic temper tantrum, complete with chair throwing, crying, kicking, screaming and cursing over a game. These kids are as young as five and as old and twenty eight and watching their behaviour is astonishing. Parents, if this is going on in your house, you have a problem and need to do something.That kind of behaviour is always unacceptable but over a video game?  Somehow that makes it worse.

There are plenty of kids who can “handle” gaming, it’s just a fun thing they do, it’s not their life and doesn’t get in the way of real life. But more and more I’m hearing about and seeing young men who spend hours and hours locked in their room playing games. I know for some moms, especially with younger boys, it’s an easy baby sitter. When they are playing their games they don’t demand attention, they don’t get in trouble, they don’t argue.

I’m going to walk right in to the propeller blade and say parents, I’m not mad at your kids; I’m mad at you for not being brave enough to take those freaking computers, play stations etc away from them. You know what they are doing isn’t healthy. You didn’t grow up that way.

And if your child is one of those kids that “rages” when somebody interferes with his game or he can’t play….you’ve really screwed up. You never should have let it go so far and now it’s up to you to fix it, or your child will pay the price. You don’t need to feel guilty, just figure out a way to fix it.

Parents, here are some clues so you can spot the problem. If your little boys would rather play on line than go tubing, play lazer tag, hang out with friends, go to a movie, water park or museum….you might have a problem. I know there are some smart games and things to do online but you know that’s not what I’m talking about.

Obviously all kids have some “issues” cause they are human and all of us have messed up in some ways as a parent.  I’m been way to indulgent and way to strict over the twenty seven years. But the ongoing gaming and now “raging” epidemic as absurd.  Giant corporations have figured out how to tap into your son’s brain, how to stimulate and thrill that little boy brain. It’s up to you to save him so he can enjoy real life.

Don’t be afraid of your child’s boredom. When we are bored and day dreaming that’s when some of our most brilliant and creative ideas roll into focus.  If our brain is always busy how can it come up with new ideas?

Anyone who know our family knows I’m not “anti gaming”  Sandor, just like Jack, can play whatever games when he goes to visit friends. They stay up all night and have a good time. that’s fine. We just don’t have them in our house. Right now I’m talking about the boys who spends the bulk of his free time on line. I believe that’s a problem and we owe our kids better.

Let me know if you disagree or agree. And yes, I’m being really judgmental about this because I feel so strongly.

Finally, if you know a book publisher or agent help me out. I really want to find one I just can’t stop playing Minecraft and Candy Crush long enough to look.

Burping Boys

burpingWhat is it about boys, big and little, who think burping is outrageously funny, or something to be proud of? It doesn’t take any skill, it’s gross, it’s easy to do, still, when my son and his friends are in the back seat and one of them lets go with a category five burp, they laugh so hard I worry about their sanity and bladder control.

Lately it’s gotten really bad at my house. Most of the time, if I’m close,  Sandor jumps up and says “Oh no I’m about to burp” and he tries to get out of the room. But I hear all the little boys cheerfully burping though the night then laughing and shushing each other.  The burp on the trampoline, the burp in the shower, they burp while climbing trees and playing drums and folding laundry.  There is a never ending cacophony of burping and I’m just about done with this gassy, burpy, boy culture. It was cute when he was a baby and I was patting him on the back, but those days are long gone.

As of last night there are new rules in Hampoland and so far they  seem to be really effective.  While watching Adventure Time I announced that every time he or one of his friends burps in front of me, or within hearing distance….he’s got to give me twenty push-up.  Good push ups.

I’m still working on the punishment for other gross body noises, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Little Boys Telling Big Lies

boysLittle boys, 8-12 years old, lie all the time.  They tell huge, impossible, floppy lies that defy logic and reason.  Note: I did not say these boys are “liars”. But they lie all the time.

Sandor and I talk about this all the time, especially after one of his friends makes up some absurd and ridiculous story.

Last week Sandor and Hunter got into a minor argument because Hunter was telling everybody in fifth grade, “when you get the flu shot a tiny piece of the needle breaks off in your arm. That’s how the medicine gets in you.”

His friend Cody has insisted for two years that his dad played for the NBA. I’ve seen Cody Dixon’s dad, he’s short, round and smokes generic cigarettes.  Maybe he WENT to an NBA game but he did not play for the NBA.

Half of Sandor’s cheerful redneck  friends claim they are related to Eminem or Labron James.

They just lie about stuff non-stop. We inadvertently  set Sandor up a few years ago so he’s included in the category. We had a post card of Albert Einstein hanging on our fridge.  Sandor noticed he had crazy caterpillar eyebrows like Alex .  So we told 3rd grade Sandor , Albert Einstein was his great great uncle. He believe us.

This morning it happened again. I was telling Sandor and Lex about the Ukrainian president. After three months of violent protests he gave up and ran away to a Russian military base. Now the protesters are giving tours of the luxurious Ukrainian capital and estates.

Sandor stopped eating his pancakes and  said, “So Obama ran off to Russia?”

“No, The Ukrainian president did that. Not our president!” I laughed.

“Oh,” Sandor sounded a little disappointed.  “I was gonna tell everybody at school.”

So that’s how it happens and little boys tell the most extraordinary  lies.

Little Boys Fighting…And Getting Over It

   A little boy named Trent is staying with us right now. He’s ten. Because he’s lived a very very transient life he hasn’t learned some  basic social skills most of us assume kids know.

Trent is very smart and quick but knife and fork skills are not his thing, no one has taught him to shake hands, to  load a dishwasher and not to burp in a big way at the dinner table. But those are the little things in life. Some stuff is a lot more important.

After living together for almost a month, Sandor and Trent got into a fight. I never figured out exactly what happened but Sandor felt like Trent acted in an “un-dude” kind of way.  They were wrestling, afterwards and I think Trent sucker punched Sandor in the kidneys….while Sandor was walking away…that made my son absolutely furious.

He said he was sick of Trent and wanted him to move out.

If  Trent doesn’t stay here, he’ll have to go to a foster home. DHS.

An hour later the boys were fine, joking and wrestling and acting like stupid ten year goobers.

Later that night when Trent and I were alone I asked him what happened.  He told me his version. Then I asked him what Sandor would say when I asked him the same question.  He thought for a minute then told me a slightly different story..

After a few minutes I said, “Trent, did you remember to apologize?”

“Why?”

He just shook his head. “Ok, here’s the deal. If you learn to apologize you will be a much happier guy.  All you have to do is say, “I’m sorry I hurt you” or ” I’m sorry I hurt your feelings” and a lot of times things will get better. If you screw up go on and say you’re sorry. Most of the time that’s all it takes and people will stop being mad.”

I told him I knew apologizing sucked and was hard. But it would really make his life better. Then  I said something like, “and when you have a girl friend or wife, you’ll need too apologize all the time.”

Trent looked surprised. “Why?”

“Guys say stupid stuff that hurts our feelings all the time. Mr Alex has to apologize lots.”

That got Trent’s attention and when I left the room he said, “Mr Alex why do you have to say you’re sorry?”

Alex laughed. “I’m in trouble all the time. I hurt her feelings  and I piss her off and I don’t even know why. Well sometimes I do know. But If I apologize she usually gets over it.”

Saying your sorry really does suck. It’s hard and embarrassing but sometimes it helps so much. The Lord knows I have a lot to apologize for, so it seems like it should get easier or I should get better at it…but that’s not the case though. Maybe next week.