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Posts Tagged ‘family’

What Happens When You Treat Your Man Like A Dog?

I have a really good husband. We’ve been married for twenty or twenty two years.  We both always forget.  We also have two really wonderful dogs.

Aries is a German Shepard/Wolf hybrid.  I thought I was buying a simple female German Shepard. A fat man in a red corvette lied to me.

And then there’s Spots.  He’s a stocky white dog with weird brown spots.  He’s a pit bull mix that showed up in our yard, emaciated, with cigarette burns on his head.  I swore I would never have anything to do with a Pit Bull of any kind, but all this dog does is wag wag his branch like tail and he tries to make us happy.

Last night I was lying in bed watching a PBS show about barns in Arkansas.  Spots looked deep into my eyes and I started rubbing his silky ear.  “Look at those pretty spots on your ears. That one looks like an island, that one looks kinda like Cuba and that one looks like a water bottle. You have the prettiest spots, Spots.”

His club of a tail thumped heavily. He was in doggie heaven. So, he rolled on his back and snorted cheerfully.

A few minutes later Spots rolled over to stare at me again and I started rubbing his nose. Slowly, I ran my thumb down, between his eyes and I said, “You are so handsome.  Look at your weird eyes and think neck and sausage like tail.” In less than a minute he was asleep. So happy to be loved.

When was the last time I rubbed Alex’s ears?  I don’t think I ever have. Have I commented on his nose or ears lately….last week I told him I was going to trim his Eisenstein eyebrows or shave them off in his sleep. And what have I ever said about his tail? Maybe years ago.

You see where I’m going?  If we treated the people we love like the pets we love the world might be better.  Man, I would love it if Alex stroked my hair, scratched my neck or told me I was so beautiful and sweet, even though my breath smelled like roadkill.

I need to rethink good behavior, bad behavior and our reward system.

Sure, Spots and Aries give me unconditional love. But so does Alex.

 

 

Your Kids A Cry Baby!!!!

If you’re a mom or dad, you’ve dealt with it.  You say “no” to a child and the meltdown begins. They cry, they beg, they fall on the ground and do the  worm thing and that’s the worst.  If you pick them up, they go limp and spongy…..so you leave them on the ground. The crying and screaming is not just embarrassing it’s infuriating and frustrating.  But more than anything, they cry baby makes us all mad….really really mad.

My oldest daughter, Mary, was a cry baby.  When she was little, every time we left a store and I didn’t buy her something, candy or a little toy she went “Three Mile Island” on me. The meltdown was epic. Kicking feet, waving arms, crying, screaming. People looked at me like I was a child abuser or kidnapper.

Here’s the reality.  If you spank your kid for being a cry baby you are a moron.  Spanking, hitting and smacking makes them cry more.

You have to find a way to be smarter……than a three year old. You have to be more clever than a four year old. You have to be wiser than a five year old.

Here’s what worked with Mary. When Mary started getting mad because she didn’t get her way she’d start slow with a pout face, then kicking feet. I would smile. Then she would start crying and I’d keep on smiling. Then the eruption would hit with hands and feet, tears, wailing and screaming…..And I would start laughing.  Often times I would take pictures.  And that made her really really really mad.

As we rolled across the parking lot I’d say something like, “Good job, Mary. Keep it up. Your’e doing good.” This made her so mad she went nuclear.  After a couple of days she began to realize something was wrong.  I wasn’t responding the right way.  Kids do this because they want you to respond in a certain way. They want you to say, “Oh baby what’s wrong?”

After two weeks Mary was burned out. Throwing fits is exhausting…and futile if it doesn’t work.  Her fury failed….she realized  it and gave up. But it took two consistent eeks of smiling and laughing every time she melted down. And if you are in a house….you have to leave the room, as though it’s no big deal. Who wants to put on a show when nobody is watching.

Once, when Mary was three and Jack was four I walked out on her temper tantrum. She stopped crying instantly and said to Jack, “Do your like our mom?”

Here’s another idea that worked. If you are at somebody else’s house and your kiddo turns into a cry baby and throws a temper tantrum….every body hates that. It sucks.   Pick that child up, take them to a different room, and walk out of the room.  They don’t get to act like that in front of folks. It’ll work out.

A child finds no joy in melting down if nobody is watching. And following in order to melt down is no fun.

Not only was Mary a crybaby…..she was a bully. We spent 2 years telling jack not to “hurt the baby” so he’d never defend himself and she tortured him. It was awful.

Finally, we realized at age  three, Mary was a total jerk and bully. It was time for a  sit down.

“Mary, everything you do to other people, to bug them….we’re gonna do to you.  So, if you turn off the lights and slam the door and leave Jack in the dark to scare him…you have to sit in a dark room for 30 seconds.”

It took a while. But finally Mary, The Boss Bully, realized if she took stuff away from Jack we were gonna take it away from her.  If she turned off the tv, we turned it off for thirty minutes for her. If she pushed his plate or cup on the floor….we threw hers away. And if she pinched or pushed him….he had permission to pinch and push back.

It was pretty simple. It was fair, there was no yelling or shouting…just simple retribution.  And it worked.

Bottom line…if you have a crybaby….if you have a baby bully. Stop being violent and loud. Instead…be smart and crafty.

Outsmart that kid and you’ll win.  Spanking and screaming is for amateurs and losers.

 

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.

 

Just A Little Drug Deal

granger and kidsWhen I was in labor with Lex, eighteen years ago, my brother Granger came to town.  He picked up Mary and Jack from the elementary school and brought them to the hospital.  But on the way, he stopped at a fairly shady hotel/motel.  He ran into a room for just a few minutes, then got the kids some ice cream and came on up to the hospital.  Yes, Granger had to take care of a little business, it was just a tiny drug deal, before coming up to the hospital. But that was Granger, brilliant, magical but undeterred by the constraints of society or the laws of the land. This picture is from that day, in the hospital.

I lost years, on and off, being mad or offended by Granger. He always said the wrong things, I thought. He told me to ask his ex-wife how to get rid of my crows feet, he showed up two hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, he showed up two days late for Christmas. He told me our family was “redneck white trash perfection”. And teased me for being uninformed because I didn’t listen to NPR.  When I was ten he left me in his apartment with his dog and a loaded gun and told me not to answer the door. He fought with my mom (back then I didn’t know why, now I kinda get it).

I lost time with him because he made me mad because he didn’t act the way I thought he should. Instead he was Granger. I never doubted he loved me, but he hurt my feelings and made me furious.

Last night I was watching a twenty year old video of my daughter Mary, and his daughter Faith playing fooz-ball in our living room.  They were probably eight. I heard Granger talking in the background. Just a couple of sentences but his voice was so deep and musical.  He was talking about getting a tiger cub.

Hearing his voice broke my heart and made me so happy because I miss him  desperately. Why didn’t I turn the camera on him for just a few seconds.

Children of mine, do not waste time, valuable and precious time being mad at each. Children of mine, don’t lose a day of love being offended by some off handed comment, oversight or ignorant stance.  It’s not worth it.  Just love and accept each other, as you are.  Because you are all perfect in your weird, quirky, selfish, lovely way.

It’ll be a few years, I hope, before I get to see my brother, Granger, again, but I promise you, when I do see him I won’t waste a precious second of our time together.

PS If you know any publishers or literary agents…help me out. I need one. Thanks

Granger

For me, looking back,  thinking abut my exquisite  and tragic past is one of the hardest things.  For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a brief retrospect.  My dad and brother died when I  was sixteen. My mom committed suicide ten years later. That left me and my oldest brother, Granger. He died a year and a half ago. So here I am, a zebra without a herd.

Since then,  God has given me the most extraordinary children, family, extended family, husband and friends.  I think he kind of owed me; but that’s between me and God.

This Thanksgiving is tough for some reason.There are lots of wonderful people in the house but I’m thinking about my Granger. I’m listening to Johnny Cash as I make corn bread stuffing and I’m wishing he would call me to talk about the NFL.

Granger thought of himself as a Poncho and Lefty kind of guy, maybe Folsom Prison Blues.  But for me Granger’s song is The Highwaymen. He was Chris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. He was a gift that lives forever, comes back and helps us, he is a part of the universe, the heavens and the earth.

Granger is everything for me right now and I would give ten years of my life for a few minutes with him. He was the beautiful, handsome bad boy, the heart breaker hero and I miss him so much because we were zebras from the same herd.

The family story goes like this. When I was born my brother Jack was 8 and Granger was 11. They brought me home from the hospital while the boys were playing catch in the  yard.  When my dad called them in they  weren’t interested in looking at me. Finally, my Grandmother, Bubba, offered them a quarter each to look at me. Jack said, “She’s pretty cute.” and Granger said, “She’s ok. Come on let’s go.”

Now when I think about Granger, who died 15 months ago, I realize, he is the mist a pilot whale exhales into the black night air,  the exhaust on the interstate and the fog hanging over the Everglades. Granger is a Hot Wheel streaking down an orange track on Christmas morning and , clean socks, and strong coffee.  He is a Cuban pork sandwich in a little shop in Islamorado, a blues riff floating up Beale Street and the perfect three pointer in a college basket ball game. Granger is a hail Mary pass as the crowd holds their breath, he is a cheerleader calling the Hogs at an Arkansas Razorback football game. He is the coral reef off  Key West. He is an elegant sentence in a trashy novel, a dancing old lady and a group of school kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Granger is all I breath and see and hear and miss. He is the stuff that keeps my heart beating when I don’t think I can take another breath. And I will love and miss him forever.

Granger was my brother. He was a foundation in my life since the day I was born. I can only imagine but never understand the pain and pride his daughters feel.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and a thousand times, I will give thanks for my brother Granger.

Love your family while you can.

Bi-Polar Dictator at The Breakfast Table

A good mom (or dad, I don’t want to be sexist) in the morning has to be both bi-polar and zen to get kids to school on time. you gotta be be exquisitely irrational, brutal and daring. One person, with just one personality, doesn’t stand a chance . Every morning I’m the wheeling dealing gambler, dictator, stand up comedian, dancing diva, chef, dj.

Daughter, “Mom what’s it like today?”

“Warm and rainy, almost 80 degrees,” Meteorologist Mom

“What shoes with this?” It’s a short fluffy skirt and Chuck Norris tee-shirt.

“Cowboy boots, not the suede ones, because of the rain, maybe a belt or  something shiny with that shirt.” Fashion designer mom says.

I open the lap top and daughter says sweetly, “Lil Wayne, please?”

DJ/ Censor Mom yells, “Are you out of your mind? He can’t listen to that. Next request?”

“LMFAO?”

We all laugh our way through ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It.” I do my little hootchie coochie dance.

Then boy asks for Weird Al. Nothing better in the morning. Pop Scholar Mom has everything on the lap top or can find it on YouTube.

But boy is still just staring at his scrambled eggs.  He’s not a morning eatter, but I have to get a few calories in the kid. The Wheeler Dealer mom says, “What’s it gonna take to get you to eat?”

“I could do a donut.”

“Ok, you eat half the eggs  and you can have a donut. But you have to drink milk, not juice.”

“Ok,” he says and crams exactly half the pile of eggs in his mouth, it’s grotesque. He swallows it all, as though taking a dose of cod liver oil.  Nutritionist Mom hands him a donut and a glass of milk.

Daughter appears, looking really cute, in the boots and skirt. “So Mom, Roy is acting like such a punk to Heather since they broke up. He’s hanging all over other girls, big time. He gave Jessica a full back rub at lunch just to bug her.  I swear I want to punch him in the face.”

“No face punching.”

She makes a face. “Then I’m going to talk to him and tell him to cut it out.”

“That won’t work,” Says Relationship Counselor Mom.  “That’ll just give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s upsetting her. Just make sure she’s no where near him. If she can’t see him doing stupid stuff it won’t bug her.  And make sure you keep her busy. Do something fun Friday night.”

“I still want to punch him. Stupid mean boys.”

“Yeah, stupid boys.” I say and she laughs.

“Hey, stop talking about stupid boys,” son says. He has a huge milk mustache.

“Oh my lord, boy! You don’t have any pants on yet. You have to wear pants to school, I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.  Go get dressed. We leave in seven minutes.”

It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes an entire staff of  schizophrenic forward thinking professionals.

*What’s your morning like Write to me at hampoland@gmail.com or leave a message. They make me happy.

Cousins

When I was little my best friends were Louella, Liz and Mike, my cousins. Actually they were my only friends. When Liz was seven, I was six and Mike was five we caught a giant catfish named Big Willie. We didn’t know what to do with him so we dragged him back to my condo and put the bastard  in the bathtub. We let that 10 pound monster swim between ournaked legs until Louella, our friend and maid, walked in and started screaming. Then we all got spanked.

I was jealous because Liz and Mike had a pet pig named Charlie Brown. he was a really big pig, not one of these hot dog size pygmie things. Liz would climb on board the 300 pound beast, Mike would pull his tail and off they would go. Both Liz and Charlie Brown screaming across the pasture.

Mike was a tiny kid who looked like a redneck made man in the mafia. And we would fight, I mean really fight, like midget wrestlers, all the time. Once, when were were five and six, we climbed the tree in front of Mike’s house. Then we started arguing. What could we argue about in a tree? I don’t remember but something got us going.

Eventually, we started throwing punches and trying to choke each other, on a branch… in a tree. We were screaming and our teenaged brothers, Ricky, Bimbo, Granger and Jack came out to see what we were doing.

They started laughing at the Arkansas spider monkeys fighting in a tree. Then Mike threw a haymaker and we both fell, ten or twelve fee,t onto our backs. The fall knocked the wind out of us both and we lay there, under the tree, thinking we would die. Gasping, flopping and clutching our bony chests. Of course that only made the brothers laugh harder. (I’m pretty sure there was beer involved)

Cousins, we all grew up in the same, insane universe. We understood everything about each other without speaking, because we were all born and cut from the same rough, misshapen fabric. We were family. We had the same blood and nothing is more profound. Time and history doen’t matter if you are cousins because you share the same DNA and history, they are woven together, like an Indian braid, inseparable and unbreakable.

Twenty or thirty years passed and I hadn’t seen or spoken to Mikey and Lizzy but the moment we were together again, the moment our voices touched, we were bonded, thick as thieves, intertwined by a blood line so powerful and unique no one else could understand or interfere. If Mikey or Liz called me today and asked me to drive 3,000 miles to pick them up in a truck stop there is nothing that could stop me. Because it’s been so long I might not recognize them when I got there but we would find each other and do what needed to be done.

 We are family and together we will walk to the magnificent , golden gates of Heaven or the torterous  fiery gates of Hell… together. Our past is the same and our future will be too. Because we are family, we are  cousins and we will always be together. Always.

hampoland@gmail.com

Culture vs Cowbells….Hear that Bell Ringing?

No, I don’t want a lovely glass of Merlot, instead I think I slug down this warm paper cup full of Gatorade.

That’s my life right now.

I’m too busy with happy redneck/family stuff and never have time to take my kids to any of the brilliant, quality, cultural events in my hometown.

Hot Springs, Arkansas is a magnificent spa city with music, art even hot air balloon festivals, galleries and countless affordable cultural events. I read about them, I drive past them and I think how wonderful it would be to take the kids to the Friday Night Gallery Walks. They would have fun and learn about fine art.

But there’s not a snowballs chance in hell we can do that on a Friday night. We’re not missing the Fountain Lake football games. I even have a purple cow bell to ring violently when we make a few yards. And more importantly, I’m not missing the amazing Cobra marching band at half time show or the chance to win a smoked pork butt, courtesy of the FFA.

This weekend Hot Springs hosts the 20th Annual Documentary Film Festival. film makers arrive from all over the planet and a day pass to watch all sorts of stunning and fascinating films is just $20. But we have to work the PTO Carnival ring toss booth and Sandor has his third grade football games on Saturday. Around four I have to start the “laundry train”. Every weekend I do at least ten loads of laundry to get us all caught up, because there’s no time during the week.

After church on Sunday morning I really wanted to take a hike with the National Park rangers. They were going to teach us how to find arrow heads, but that’s when I have to do the two hour killer “Wal-Mart/Kroger, get some more Little Debbie Snack Cakes” shopping run, then take Lexie to do her knee workouts.

Sometimes, I feel as though I’m missing life as it whoooshes past. But that’s not true. This is my beautiful cowbell ringing, Hot Pocket eating “Mom can you help me get my cup in my pants” life. Good thing I kind of like warm Gatorade.

Mean People Suck and Be Nice!

I was going to write about my daughter Mary, who taught her cat to poop in the toilet. I’ll do that later.

Tonight my husband,  was cleaning his office, and he suddenly held up a bumper sticker. BE NICE!

It was my BE NICE! bumper sticker. Oh my lord. Twenty years ago when Alex and I were dating I somehow convinced him we could be bumper sticker moguls. I thought if we printed 5000 BE NICE and MEAN PEOPLE SUCK bumper stickers we would become crazy rich. He still thought I was hot and brilliant so he paid for the first printing.

Silly man. The MEAN PEOPLE SUCK stickers sold pretty well but nobody wanted the BE NICE ones. Apparently there were a lot more sarcastic bitter people in Hot Springs, Arkansas than hippies. I was crushed.

But those bumper stickers have become an important part of our marriage, they represent something I can’t explain. BE NICE explains Hampoland, the way we’ve raised our children and what we try to do every day. When one of the kids acts like a little puke, we say BE NICE. When Mary gets really really frustrated with jack, she says, BE NICE.

Those two words can end any argument or snarky situation in our house. Cause what do you say after somebody simply tells you to Be Nice?

“You look like a rino today.”

“Be Nice.”

“Your dog smells like a dead monkey.”
“Be Nice.”

‘Your mother is as sharp as a bowling ball.”

“Omg Be Nice.”

See, it works every time.

 I think this all started with my brother Granger. I believe he’s the one that gave me the idea.

So, I still have almost two thousand bumper stickers if anybody wants one. And tomorrow, no matter what happens, remember to BE NICE.

Three Cruel and Abritrary Rules that Make My Family Happy

"Love Me Or Die, Buddy".

I’VE ALWAYS MADE UP  CRUEL AND GOOFY RULES FOR MY FAMILY, as a result we are all pretty happy, noisy and in love with each other. I know it sounds revolting and sappy, but it works.

So, here are three random and possibly cruel rules we’ve enforced and they have helped keep our family tight tight tight.

#1. No child (and I have four ages 22-7) will ever have a television or dvd player in their bedroom.  Pretty brutal I know. We have one tv in the living room and Alex and I have one in our bed room that we share with the kids.  I just can’t stand the idea of my children disappearing into their bedrooms for five or six years to watch Family Guy, or falling asleep every night with the television on.

The end result of not allowing individual televisions…we hang out together a bunch, I know what they are watching and we all know how to negotiate. 

2. We call each other names, all the time.  “Hey Poop face it’s time to wake up”.  “You won’t eat my spinach, artichoke and feta omelette? You are a big chicken baby cheese cake”.  Or I sing Bob Seager’s Beautiful Loser to my ridiculously pretty daughter.

The only rule on name calling is you can’t call someone a name that’s actually true.  For example, Alex can’t make fun of my big nose, because I really do have a big nose and that would hurt my feelings.

#3. No one is allowed to text when they are in the car with me.  I  have to tell all Lexie’s teen-aged friends about the no texting in the car rule before they get in. I tell them I made the rule because I’m paranoid and insecure and I think they are all talking about me , (the text would look like this ‘ur mom suxs’ ).

But the truth is, I just think texting in the car is rude. If you are getting a ride from me or hanging out with my family, don’t spend all your time talking to other kids.

The truth is I make up cruel and arbitrary rules all the time. (When the kids were little, if they said ‘shut up’ they had to suck their thumb, no matter how dirty, for two minutes.)

Hey, if you’ve got any to share maybe I’ll start enforcing yours too.