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Posts Tagged ‘daughters’

Middle School Mean Girls

Last week I accidentally bought a novel…written for children. I decided to read it anyway. Here’s the plot: a 12 year old girl is going into middle school and suddenly (well over the course of a couple of months), her very best friend in the world turns into a Middle School Mean Girl. She becomes popular with the “popular kids”. It’s a heartbreaking story with an uplifting end.

I knew my friend Amy, who is a DJ on one of the stations I work for, had daughters. So, I gave her the plot synopsis and asked if her girls would enjoy it.

“This must be a God thing,” Amy said. Then told me about her beautiful daughter who is going though almost the exact same situation.

Her story killed me because I remember so well, struggling though middle school with my oldest daughter. She had a few wonderful friends for several years, then they all turned on her. We never figured out why. But my girl spent a couple of years in my pocket and miserable. Her former friends were saying all kinds of stuff, about her. They said she was ugly, fat, gay, stupid, a slut and she wasn’t Christian. One of the reasons we took her out of that school was to get away from her old friends.

Every week in restaurants, at the pool, in Walmart I hear middle school girls talk to their parents in a way that is shockingly mean and hateful. The parents just laugh it off, they don’t think their girls are serious. They tell themselves “it’s just a game, or a phase she’ll grow out of”. But they know, in their hearts, they never spoke to their parents that way.

Boys are gross and annoying, they make fart jokes and fall out of booths at restaurants, but they don’t sigh and roll their eyes at their parents, as though warning them to keep their mouth shut. I swear sometimes it looks like the parents are hostages.

So what’s the deal with so many Middle School mean girls? Why do some turn cruel and ugly? Why do they quite caring about old friends and focus on popularity and good hair?

Boys  might get in a fight with their friend, they might even try to beat him up…but they generally don’t get catty, cruel and start spreading rumors.

I think parents might be part of the problem.
We tell our daughters they are beautiful and can be anything from an astrophysicist to pop star, we tell our daughters they are strong, not to be kept down by anyone. We tell our daughters they can accomplish anything. We put our daughters waaaay up on a pedestal, we buy them the very best “high horse” And they listen. they believe us, the believe they are better than other girls, that they are smarter and prettier. We drill this stuff into their heads CONSTANTLY, and so do tv stations, songs on the radio even public service announcements.

But do we ever tell them to be kind? Do we tell and teach them to empathize? Do we tell them to be sweet and nice. No, because those virtues are seen as weakness. I’m thinking back and I don’t think I ever had conversations like that with my girls. I’m sure I hoped they would see their family being nice to folks and get the idea…but I don’t think that’s enough. The truth is, some of our daughters are turning into bitches, right in front of us.

Moms, I’m putting this on your shoulders. I suspect most of us know when our daughters has turned that corner and become a mean girl. But very few of us are willing to own and correct the bad and hurtful behavior. We are too excited our daughter is “popular”. We can’t forsce them to be friends with another girl but we can absolutely demand and make sure they are kind. We need to tell our kids we disapprove of cruel behavior and then demonstrate kindness , everyday, in front of them.

And consider this, when we are all old and dealing with health issues and trying to stay in our own homes , when we need help with everyday life and desperately want someone to treat you kindly and with dignity, chances are our mean ass daughter will be in charge.

Sweetness, kindness and compassion are not weaknesses. They are virtues that make all of us stronger.

Being 19 is The Worst!

lexoBeing a nineteen year old has to be one of the hardest things on the planet. Your technically and adult, so you are supposed to know what you’re doing. But nineteen years olds don’t even have fully develop brains so they might be crazy smart and still do the dumbest stuff. And it’s not really their fault!

Most 19 year old are on their own for the first time. So they have to deal with things they have never ever even considered. Landlords for example. He has power, he’s a grown man, he owns the place you live. You have to pay him money but you have to hold his feet to the fire and insist he fix things when they are broken.  Demanding a grown up do something for you for the first time is awkard. But that’s what happens at 19.

At 19 you don’t have your mom or dad making  judgmental observations about your friends. At first you think it’s great. But then, bad things start to happen because you accidently pick terrible friends.

When you were 16 you folks would say things like “Honey, I think your friends are kind of snarky bitches, kind of back biting don’t you think?” And you would realize it was true.

Or “Honey, I think your friend is a drug dealer and maybe using you for your car.”

I remember once, years ago, one of my kids was 19. They moved into a terrible terrible Little Rock neighborhood. They thought they were friends with the low life neighbors. I tried to warn my kid. “No Mom, they are my friends. You don’t understand.”

A week latter the trashy friends stole everything in the house including the laptop with lots of irreplaceable creative stuff on it.

Nineteen year olds have to move away and grow away from their parents. that’s natural. But it’s so hard.

For a nineteen year old there are just so many new and really important issues and situations they want to handle and need to take care of but they end up calling home for advice. Even though that’s the last thing on the planet they want to do because they are trying to be independent. There are insurance deductibles, and deposits,  and groceries, bills, over draft charges, flat tires, dead batteries, lost keys, tax returns, utilities and direct deposit pay checks that arrive two days after all your bills are due. Parents handle most of this stuff until you move out on your own.

Even health is an issue. Without your parents hovering and annoying supervision 19 year olds don’t get enough sleep and eat really crappy food. Then they get sick and feel terrible. After months of feeling puny, though you are in the prime of your life, you relize what your parents preached was true. In order to be strong and feel great you have to eat well, sleep well, help other people and exercise. You have to take care of your body if you want to feel good.

But little by little they figure things out, they learn what to do. They don’t call home every day for help, or even every week. They figure out how to be an adult. And for a parent that’s a really proud and heartbreaking day.

Your Girl is Gonna Have Issues


 

daughterI’m not going to make up some lame lie as to why I’m writing this. Either he’ll get it or not.

There is a man who is fifty years old: he is a single father bravely raising a beautiful twelve year old daughter all on his own. His eighty five year old mother lives with them too and she  helps out a lot.

Here’s the problem. This dad, I’ll call him Gary, does a great job selling cars. He makes good good money in the little town he lives in. People love him at work, then he gets home, he drinks and then all he does it make fun of his daughter, he’s a jackass, a smart ass who mocks and teases and makes fun of his own beautiful daughter. He says she’s dumb, fat (she’s very thin) she’s slow, she’s selfish. He makes fun of her and pokes and criticizes until she cries. Every night ends in tears. Nothing the girl, I’ll call her Sara, is good enough.ry is breaking the girls heart and the grandmother’s too.

Here’s the weird part. When you talk to Gary all he does is brag about his daughter, constantly. It’s incredibly annoying. And this is coming from a woman who brags about her kids a lot.

I think Gary believes his being funny, I think Gary assumes he’s funny and that his daughter is being too sensitive.  Gary is wrong. Like lots of fathers.

Here’s the deal. Dads, you have one chance with your daughters.  You gotta love them and support them.  The first thing you say in the morning should be sweet, the first thing you say when they come home from school and the last thing you say at night has to be sweet and loving. Otherwise your daughter is gonna have big ass issues.

If you don’t adore her and say sweet things and support her here’s what will happen. She’s gonna get boyfriends way too early cause she needs male approval. She’s gonna have way too much sex way too early cause she wants a man to love her and she wants to punish you. She’s gonna hate men but still chase after them because you never really acted like you loved her.

So, dumb ass dad, get your act together and love your daughter, adore her, hug her and tell her you are proud. Along the way there will be plenty of time to correct her, to tell her purple hair isn’t a great idea, to tell her she can make better grades, to tell her she can do better.  But if you love that girl your words will be heard differently, they will be coming from a place of love. And they will make a difference.

She needs you to be sweet and loving. The world is harsh and ugly and unfair. You have to be her safe place so get your freaking act together.

 

Let Your Daughter Date When She’s Young! It’s a Good Thing, I Swear

handsthis is by request, a reprint from 2010.

LET YOUR DAUGHTER DATE WHEN SHE IS YOUNG. Yeah, that’s what I said. You should let your daughter “date” when she is in 6th or 7th grade.

I hear you yelling at me, “Woman, are you out of your mind?”
Before you stop reading , let me state my case and define dating. I don’t think you should allow your 13 year old to jump in a Chevy van with shag carpet and drive off with a 16 year old boy.

You should however let your 12 year old have a “boyfriend” And here’s what they will do.

1. Talk at school

2. Text and chat (Notice: you pay for her phone you can always pick it up and see what’s on it. Always.  This is not negotiable.)

3.On the weekends you might take the boy with you to eat pizza or go to the mall. And if you are pretty trusting you might allow them to go to the skating rink or bowling alley, alone, during the day for an hour and a half. While they are skating they might hold hands, they will hug and they might kiss. But not much more will happen because they are in a bowling alley waiting for you to return.. And while all this talking and hand holding hands is going on your daughter, will learn so many valuable first boy lessons. And after two or three weeks they will break up.

As a result of the breakup the most important lesson your daughter will learn is….there are lots of boys in the world so breaking up isn’t such a big deal.

My youngest daughter,  knew a lot about guys when she was in 6th grade. She knew how to break up with a guy in person and in a nice way. She figured out  guys don’t like girls who get crazy obsessed. They like girls with a life, interests and self esteem.
And she knew you shouldn’t have to choose between friends and boy friends and if a guy really liked you he would be ok with her having a live. If he’s an actual good guy he won’t ask or demand that you to quite things you love like the band, volleyball or the poetry club.

My oldest daughter, Mary, never had a boyfriend in Jr. High or High School. She was the perfect daughter and perfect student, but we discouraged the entire idea of boys. Then, when she was 18 years old and had a full scholarship to a university in St. Louis, Mary fell in love with Billy the semi-pro hockey player who’s e-mail address was “toker69”.

Ten years ago my oldest daughter, Mary, got in huge trouble at the age of 18 cause she never learned “boy lessons”. As a result, her first boyfriend, at eighteen, had an email address of “toker69@ email.com” and she fell like a 12 year old girl, she fell like Romeo and Juliet. After a stellar high school career and  getting lots of scholarships she announced, as I placed the Thanksgiving turkey on the table, that she was leaving school for a year to be with this stoned hockey player She used all the classic first love lines like, “Nobody understands us.” “We’ll prove everyone wrong.”. “I’ll never love anyone else.” It was so gross and shattered our family.

Mary didn’t’ want to hurt me or our family, her heart was just in charge and she didn’t have any prior love experience.. Unfortunately, because she was eighteen I couldn’t save her. I could cry and beg and holler, but in the end, that’s all I could do.
Mary’s pre-teen heart was completely overriding her magnificent, full scholarship, med-school brain.
It’s a messy and complicated story, and I’ll tell you Mary is great now so you don’t have to worry.. She dumped “toker69” after 9 months, got back into school and is much much wiser now. But here’s what I believe, If Mary had when she was young she wouldn’t have been hopelessly naïve about young men and love.
If she had dated a boy when she was thirteen, if I let her hang out at the bowling alley with her 115 pound 8th grade boy friend, Mary would have learned that

  1. boys rarely respect girls who give up their independence.
    2.  boys, will sometimes say anything to make you love them.
    3.  boys are going to fall in love with her . So she didn’t have to say yes to the first one.

And here’s the real kicker, it doesn’t matter if you “forbid” your daughter to have a boyfriend. If she likes a cute guy with swoopyhair and he likes her she will have a boy friend. You just won’t know about it. And every time you drop her off at the movies or the bowling ally with a couple of girls, the boy will be waiting for her. And they will hold hands and kiss and she just won’t tell you about it.
You can’t stop love.
What’s better knowing who the boy is, talking to him, and counseling your child or being in the dark and having your daughter keep secrets from you.
So, do yourself a favor. Let her have a boyfriend while you can control the situation, if she wants one. Even if you say “no” she’s still gonna have one at school. At least this way…you’re in control and can scare the Hell out of him if necessary.

 

Dads and Daughters…Who Has the Power?

dadDads out there, you have no idea how powerful you are.  If you have a daughter please know she adores you, she admires you , she worships you and she needs your attention, desperately.  This is true if your baby girl is 2 or 20.

You are the first man she will fall in love with. If you are there for her she probably won’t need an actual boyfriend until she’s in her teens.  If you  tell her she’s pretty and wonderful and smart, she won’t need conformation from a stinky boy for a long time.

If you are a cold  uncaring jerk, if you argue with your daughter constantly and criticize everything she does, she’ll probably find a boyfriend  who fills the gaps you leave before she leaves the school play ground.  Little girls need a man in their life who makes them feel special.  If you don’t do it they will find somebody  who will.

So dads, man up, do your job, hold her hand and tell her how lovely she is. Start when she’s young and you’ll save yourself from a boat load of heart ache and late night worry.

Now, I want to make one point very clear. I’m not telling all you guys to spoil your daughters…rotten. Spoil them with love and attention but not with crap and stuff.  If you buy her a I phone when she’s 7, a new Play Station every month when she’s 10 and a brand new car when she turns 16 YOU ARE AN IDIOT and SETTING HER UP FOR MISERY.  If you spoil her with “stuff” two things will happen.

She will equate love with money and merchandise and she will expect every man she meets and likes to buy her everything she wants. Don’t wreck her life like that, please.

You probably need to consider this too.  If you want your daughter to date and fall in love with good men who treat her with respect, treat her like a lady you should consider how you treat your wife or girl friend. If you’re a jack-ass who yells and screams at your woman, if you are rude, mean and ugly. If you’re a lazy deadbeat, your daughter will probably end up with a dude just like you. You’re telling her how women should be treated.

The  first time a boy friend screams at her or God forbid, slaps her, she will respond one of two ways.  She’ll get out of the car, cry and cry then forgive the guy and take him back. Or she’ll get out of the car, tell the guy if he ever lays a hand on her again she’ll rip his fingers off and eat them and never talk to him again.

How will your daughter respond? It’s on you, that’s how much power father’s have.

 

When Daughters Become Dancers…Burlesque Dancers

burlesqueThere are days I worry about my children but today isn’t one of them.

I’m so proud of my daughter, Mary. She’s 24, gorgeous and a senior in college. She’s worked for the Clinton Foundation and plans to do good in the world and be taken seriously.

The other day she called because she’d been invited to join a burlesque troop.  (Mary is minoring in dance in college) She was excited, she loved the girls, she would get paid to dance, it sounded wonderful. But…it’s a burlesque show.

I’ve seen that movie with Cher, still I don’t really know what Burlesque is. In my mind it involves fishnet hose and a stage, in my mind it’s the first cousin of pole dancing. But I didn’t say that to Mary. Instead I let her talk and talk and talk. She went through the pros and cons, the ups and downs.

After twenty minutes she decided not to do it because of the internet. In cyber space she would always be a burlesque dancer. There would be cheeky pictures on facebook. When a prospective employer googled her name, there she would be…in fish net hose and hooker pumps…on stage.

“If it was an important job, I wouldn’t hire me,” she finally said.

Mary had the brain process of an adult!  What lots of kids don’t understand is, because of the internet,  bad  choices, drunken keg party pictures and videos of cruel pranks NEVER GO AWAY! They are like forearm and neck tattoos.

For several years I worked at a very very selective high school.  If we got an application from a kid with an email address or twitter account like pyro-nympho-manica2002 @ gmail we did not typically invite them to our special school. Bad choices live for ever on the internet.

I now understand  burlesque is not at all what I thought it was. And if there was a burlesque dinner theater, I’d love to go….as long as my daughter wasn’t on stage.

 

When Adults Say Ignorant Stupid Stuff to Kids

   Parents and relatives tell kids stuff that’s simply not true, all the time.  I don’t think they mean to lie. We simply have wrong thoughts in our heads or  understand the world in a way that’s goofy and semi ignorant.

When adults say ridiculous stuff to you don’t get all jacked up. Don’t get mad and cut them out of your life.  Most of the time parents and adults, especially moms and grandmoms say crazy mean stuff.
My grandmother, Bubba, was a saint, one of the most loved women in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She was kind, generous, giving, warm and intelligent. She was also born in 1895, in south Arkansas.
That might explain why, when I was seven or eight years old, Bubba became concerned about the size of my nose.  Just so you understand I have a strong nose. It’s a serious nose, straight, masculine, and probably a little heavy for my face…but as my husband just said, “it’s not bulbous”. (thanks honey)ally  moms and grand moms, think they are helping you. They do love you,  they are just…..kind of stupid sometimes.

The truth is I have the Stell family nose.  It looks great on men. All the men in my family with the Stell nose were considered very handsome but I’m the only woman in several generations to carry this family feature.

Back to the story. When I was a little girl, my grandmother Bubba, whom I adored, suggested when I was watching tv I should hold my nose, wrap my entire hand around it…so it wouldn’t grow anymore.  She explained how the women in the Orient wrapped their feet so they would remain petite. Maybe I could do the same thing with my nose.

Until that moment I’d never really thought about my nose.  Obviously she’d been thinking about it a great deal.

So, I would spend hours watching the Brady Bunch and Gun Smoke with my hand wrapped around my nose. I didn’t offense then because I was just a little girl, but a few years later I figured things out.  Bubba thought my nose wasn’t very attractive, too big and heavy. And she wanted to help me because she loved me.

Ouch. My husband always says ‘if love hurts you’re doing it wrong.”

Since the day I figured out what Bubba was really saying, I haven’t had any doubt. my nose is waaay too big. But I do not believe for a second Bubba was trying  to hurt me or do me harm.  She just wanted me to be pretty and have a wonderful life.

Bubba also told me, when I was thirteen, I should stop running around barefooted. She said my feet would be the size of skillets and no handsome man would marry me.

My beloved Bubba was wrong. I’ve had two husbands and lots and lots of handsome men in my life. Apparently, they really don’t care about the size of my feet.

Again, Bubba wasn’t trying to hurt or criticize me. She believed she was right. She loved me and wanted me to have a handsome husband. Because in her mind that was the key to happiness.

So, when someone in your family says you are going to be a failure if you…., when they say  your life will be a disaster if you break up with a certain boy or fail to follow a particular career path, if they tell you your eyebrows need to be plucked or your hair should be blond…they probably love you. They love you and genuinely think they are helping.  Let their comments roll off your beautiful shoulders and melt into the mud puddles.

That’s what I did, along with my big nose and handsome husband.

On the other hand, if several people in your life are telling you the same thing, like, “That guy is a super creep, stay away from him.” You probably need to take their advise seriously. They want you to be happy and they see something you don’t.

But DO NOT wrap you hand around your nose while watching tv, that doesn’t work.

For The Mother With A Chubby Daughter

My daughter Mary is gorgeous, shiny, brilliant and thrilling. Growing up she was all those things and chubby. She was famous for snacking then leaving candy wrappers stuffed between the couch cushions.

Recently Mary sent me a college paper she wrote comparing the  dancer, Isadora Duncan and Marlyn Monroe. But the first paragraph was about Mary as a little girl. 

She wrote, “I knew  women throughout history had contributed in a variety of ways. I also knew I had never heard of an ugly woman doing great things. Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty and love, and those suffering from heartbreak would ask her for relief. In Africa, Cleopatra was a great beauty who held the power of her entire country and was a magnificent leader. Marie Antoinette was another woman I was fascinated with, at the time all I understood of her was that her beauty was so extraordinary she started wars and that she really liked cake.

However, my greatest love was not intelligent, fierce and determined like the others. My great love was Marilyn Monroe. She was delicate and feminine. She had the skin of a princess, with beautiful blond hair.

I was a chubby girl, with enormous knots in my hair, stirrups on the bottom of my grubby spandex pants and a surprising amount of hair on my legs for a ten year old.”

She also wrote, “I knew I could have looked like them if I hadn’t spent all my time watching Murder She Wrote and pretending to go to Hogwarts…..”

Now, after all these years, I know what was going through her beautiful brain.

Mary was always gorgeous. And she was so funny as a little girl, I sometimes had to pull the car off the road because I couldn’t stop laughing.

But she was a little chubby. And back then, Mary couldn’t write very well.  Boy, things have changed.

I’d love to hear from you! Comment or write to me a hampoland@gmail.com