Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Sometimes The Kid Is Right……I Guess

This week at work I had  a yellow legal pad page half filled with deals to close and projects to finish for clients.  I realized for the second time there were literally too many to get finished in four days so I did what Sandor, my 14 year old, told me to do. I “put first things first.” That’s right I prioritized my list. It’s not rocket science but it made my week a lot more productive and financially rewarding…in a big way.

Sandor, who is in 8th grade, is part of a public charter school.  And much of the schools new focus has been Stephan Covey book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Sandor and I debate the seven habit some times. Number seven is “Sharpen Your Saw,” meaning keep balance in your life. do the things you love like yoga or yodeling instead of working all the time.  Any time Sandor wants to lie in bed and watch stupid videos on youtube he tells me he’s “sharpening his saw.”  And I call BS.

“Putting first things first” is one of the rules we agree on. We talk about it every now and then, usually when I’m driving him to school and he’s got a lot of projects going on.  But this time, he was the one who reminded me on Monday night when I was griping  and complaining about all the stuff I had to get done, in just a few days.

Maybe I should listen to that kid more often. Except when he tells me one shower in three days is plenty.

If you want to read the book you’ll find it on Amazon for less than five dollars, if your lazy and want to check out the seven habits in less than five minutes here’s the Wikipedia link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People


Let me know what you think and as always you are welcome to share this post.



Do Your Kid A Favor….Four Things

JpegThere are three things wait, four things, parents have to teach their children before they are five, six or at the latest, seven years old. Otherwise…it’s too late. And if you don’t teach your child these three things consider yourself a mediocre parent. I should know.

#1 Teach your kid how to ride a bike. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of patience and running around. Your child is going to cry and get mad at you. They will want to give up, but don’t let them. Take the time to hold the back of the bike seat and run up and down the parking lot or side walk.

Learning to ride a bike when you are young is easy and not nearly as scary because you’re a short person on a short bike, you are close to the ground and you don’t look like a complete doooof if you are wearing all kinds of elbow and knee pads, extra underwear and a football helmet.

Little kids fall down all the time, it’s not that big a deal. But when grownups fall down it’s a monumental embarrassment. Kids fall down then pop back up. Adults fall down then miss work for a week.

I failed to teach Mary how to ride a bike. We rode with training wheels, then took one wheel off but that’s as far as we got and I didn’t force the issue. So my beautiful, brilliant adult daughter still needs one training wheel.

#2. Teach your child to swim, or let somebody else do it. First there’s the safety side of the equation. Unless you live in the Middle East your child will spend time around water, lakes and pools, he’ll end up on a boat.


When grown ups try to learn to swim they are terrified because they know the reality of the situation. If they go under they will die. The adult brain also interferes with the learning process. A two hundred pound man may know he can float but he doesn’t’ believe his great big fat body will stay on top of the water. So he thrashes around, sinks, gets water up his nose and gives up. The end.


Teach your child to swim to the edge of the pool and to hold on before they are one year old. The kid doesn’t have to be an Olympic swimmer, they don’t need to know all the strokes including the butterfly, but they better know how to float and how to get to the shallow end of the pool.

And think about this, the planet Earth is 71 percent water. You don’t want your child to be afraid of 71% of this place.

When a child learns to swim it’s cute, when an adult tries to learn to swim it’s embarrassing and traumatic.

#3. Finally, please teach your child how to shake hands. Little boys and girls.  All you have to remember is “firm grip and eye contact”. Their lives will be better with this one simple skill.

When Jack was 13 or 14 he decided he wanted to look like an absolute freak, bright red mohawk, suspenders, plaid golf pants. Still, he had a great handshake, he knew how to look an adult in the eye and act like a man so coaches, teachers and ministers cut him some slack and still loved him. Grown men let him date their beautiful daughters in part, I believe, because he had an excellent hand shake.

If a kid has a pathetic handshake I generally think they are weak or sneaky. I can’t help it. And yes, I know lots of scummy, slimy people have great handshakes. But do your child a favor. Start shaking hands with them when they are two years old. Shake hands all the time at home. Role play, shake hands in the morning and say “nice to meet you, sir.”  Kids will think it’s fun and remember, when they are little, remind them to shake hands with new people in private before you introduce them.  After a while, it will become automatic.

And the best part, when they are little but shake hands like a grown man, people will say, “wow, great hand shake buddy!”  The child will be really proud and keep doing it.

When Sandor’s thirteen year old buddies come over I shake hands with them. If it’s gooey we work on it. It’s that easy. Young men need to know how to shake hands but if you don’t teach them they won’t get it.

If I were to add one more thing to teach your kid, it would be how to make a phone call, if they aren’t calling their friends.  They need to know how to say, “Hi, this is Morgan, can I talk to Heather.”  At least once a week a kid calls my phone, looking for Sandor. They just say, “Uh, where Sandor?” I tell them what they need to do (sweetly) then tell them to hang up and try again. 98 percent of them do it and get it right.

We all want to make our children’s lives better. You can teach them the skills that will absolutely help. And it’s actually fun!




I Am An Enabler When It Comes to My Kids

enablerAfter giving two out of four of my children money last week a friend jokingly (I think) called me an “enabler.”  Driving home I thought about that and then realized she was right.

I am an enabler and will continue to send cash when needed… as long as my kids are moving forward on the right track. Here’s the tricky part. As a parent we have to decide if we think our children are “on the right track” and if “enabling their behavior is what we really want to do.  At nineteen Lex isn’t self sufficient but she’s doing everything right and she’s moving down the tracks toward her life.  She’s go a full ride to college and hasn’t lost it, she works fifteen hours a week at for a non profit. She wanted to get a second job but I said “don’t’ do that please focus on grades and finals”.   She needed money for food and gas. I think, if she wanted money for new speakers in her car and another tattoo I would have said no and laughed at her.

Mary and her boyfriend Andy are doing really well in their new city of Indianapolis but her just barely making enough money right now. That will change but for now things are tight. We all desperately want Mary home for Thanksgiving. Mary want’s to come home for Thanks giving, so I’m helping a little.

I remember when I was sixteen and needed money to upgrade my dark room equipment.  I didn’t want to ask my parents for the cash, even though I was actually making money taking pictures. A couple of weeks before my brother Jack died at the age of 22 or 23 he sat down on the edge of my twin bed with a can of Bush beer in his hand and said, “Ask Mom, that’s what parents are for, they live for shit like this.  It’ll make her happy.”

I did not know exactly what my big brother was talking about that night but I took his advice. And he was absolutely right. I never had the chance to talk to my brother Jack again about his advice. But I’ve thought about it every time I needed to “enable” one of my kids, or one of their friends.

I can’t tell you how happy Alex is when he needs to buy tires for your car. It’s his way of saying he loves you. Sometimes he even buys them for one of your Hampoland friend’s cars and that’s a good thing too.  I promise this is true.

Sometime in the near future you will all be grown, self sufficient and our help won’t be necessary.  Jack doesn’t need us financially at all anymore. And it actually makes us a little sad.

But until that day arrives, Alex and I are here for you always, as long as you’re moving in the right direction. And my brother  Jack was right, nothing makes us happier. So thank you for asking.

The Righteous Punch

bullyingI’m not supposed to write about this but I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Yesterday before school a bigger boy in my son’s class shoved him face first against a wall and he banged his head pretty hard. Instinctively, my son spun around and punched the kid in the face, hard.  The boy went down and cried. But Sandor helped him up and apologized and they shook hands.

Sandor called me to let me know what had happened. He was upset because he know if a teacher saw him he’d get in big big trouble, probably suspended.  He was also upset because he made the boy cry.  When I pressed him he explained he was kind of a big slow kid who did stuff like this all the time other people. He also told me he wanted to keep punching him but the yellow belt tenant in Taekwondo is Self Control.  He did the right thing and stopped.

I was totally stressed all day waiting for a call from the school. Right after lunch Sandor texted me “I feel so guilty”.  When we got home I asked him why and it was because the boy cried and that always makes him feel really bad.

Good news, this morning Sandor texted me again, the kid told him his face still hurt and they shook hands again.

Then my son told me about another fight which took place in the football lockerroom.  There’s a young man, I’ll call him Joe, who’s mother died a couple of years ago.  A seventh grade boy started making fun of Joe’s dead mother. (It doesn’t get any worse that that.) One of the star football players slugged the kid several time to shut him up. (Obviously, in my mind the right thing to do.) I believe this situation was handled appropriately by one of the coaches and was never reported.

The truth is some kids are just wretched human beings right now but they aren’t any worse than they used to be. I remember getting pushed around in first grade because I liked Davey Jones in the Monkeys.  And in 5th grade when I had to go to a new school for a little while in Florida all the kids and bus driver called me “Pig Farmer” because of my accent. Kids are really mean.

My son has been in Taekwondo, and messed around with boxing since he was three. He’s a second degree black belt and he’s been trained to do exactly what he did. Defend himself.  He’s also been taught to always always stick up for a kid being bullied. that’s one of the founding principals of our Taekwondo school and house hold.  That’s his job. There are sheep and there are coyotes in life and especially in school. Somebody has to be brave enough to protect the sheep. that’s the natural order of things. Walking away when you can help someone is a disgrace.

Hopefully our school administrators will come to understand (and many of ours do now, thankfully) we’re not helping anyone, especially the sheep, if we tell kids not to defend themselves and weaker students from punk ass coyotes. Teachers, administrators and the police can’t be everywhere all the time. So when we tell our strong and righteous students to step back we are only emboldening the bullies, we are giving them even more power.

It’s a fine line, but again, this is a situation where “zero tolerance” just doesn’t work.  If I defended an old person who was being pushed around at Walgreens by a big tough guy I’m pretty sure the police would take the circumstances into consideration.

There will always be bullies, there will always be kids who get bullied and there will always be heroes unless they all get suspended.

The Problem With The Confederate Flag

flagThere’s no doubt this will disappoint and infuriate some of my readers, but I feel I would be a coward if I didn’t tell you how I feel about the Confederate flag controversy and why.

First, I’m very much a child of the South, the past five or six generations on one side have been in Arkansas, before that Georgia, Virginia and a boat that sailed from England.  On the other side of the family I’ve got four generations from Arkansas, before that Tennesee then Texas where you can still visit the town of Granger, Texas. I’ve been told it was named by my great great great great grandfather Granger Gertrudio McDaniel.   One of my great great grandfathers and several great great uncles fought in the Civil war…for the South.I say all this so you understand there’s not a single yankee in the wood pile.

Still, I’m so relieved the Confederate flags are  being removed from our state capitol buildings. They don’t belong there because that flag does not represent or honor ALL of the people who live in our beautiful state.

I don’t think the Confederate flag should be banned or burned or hidden but it doesn’t belong on our Capitol or in our schools.

Yes, it is our heritage and it’s your right to fly it at home or wear on a tee-shirt. But my heritage is my history….the past. My present, my right now, my at this moment is different.

Right now I have a lot of very dear friends who I love and they are black.  I love them more than I love that flag. I don’t like thinking what my great great great grandfather was doing 175 years ago and what their great great great grandfather’s might have been doing 175 years ago. It makes me sad and embarrassed. And this country belongs to them just as much as it belongs to me.

If the Confederate flag, that brings so many so much pride causes my dear friends one moment of pain or discomfort….well, their love means more to me than pride. I am not ashamed of my relatives, they were brave, strong, Christian people. they thought they were doing the right thing. But they were wrong.

I still like the General Lee, Lynard Skynard and I know every word to Dixie.

Bottom line, my black friends are more important than that flag. They bring me more joy, they help me, make me better and represent my heart more than the confederate flag. I chose those I love.

And the Confederate flag does not define my past and I have other things to be proud of now. If I want to leave a lasting legacy it won’t be the Confederate flag, it will be my children. Sandor, Alexis, Mary and Jack.  They are my battle flag now, through them I will find a way to make the world a better place and I will carry them forever along with the flag of the United States of America.

(If anyone knows a  literacy agent or publisher  help me out.)

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……

The Evolution of Children

mary and jackI recently read something that said husbands and wives get bored with each other because we never change.  But we never get “bored” with our kids because we expect them to change constantly and that’s what they do.

This isn’t an earth shattering revelation but man is it a true statement.

My husband, Alex Hampo is the exact same man he was when we got married.  He works too much, smokes too much and doesn’t take care of himself.. He loves his family first and foremost, in fact he really doesn’t like anyone but our family. He’s fearless and hates confrontation unless it’s in his kitchen.  Then he’ll bow up on a bus or a big ass dishwasher.

My kids, on the other hand are lava lamps. The change is constant.

Growing up we all felt pretty certain Mary would eventually be a lawyer/political figure. She was addicted to Murder She Wrote, loved to argue…dramatically and was passionate about all kinds of political topics.  When people would make ugly remarks about lawyers and politicians, trying to discourage her I told her time and time again, “A good attorney or lawyer can do more good in a single day than the rest of us can accomplish in a life time.”

Then she got to college and things changed.  Mary was all about non-profits and saving the world through the  .org people. She even considered starting her own organization that made birthday cakes for little kids in shelters. Her non-profit passion lasted for five years. Now she’s sick of non profits and more than a little discouraged by their sense of entitlement and  lack of hustle.

Next week Mary starts a new job with a law firm and is more excited than I’ve seen her in years. She’ll be a Litigation Specialist . I’m not sure what that means but at twenty six she now officially has a job that sounds way more important than mine.

Jack went to college to make me happy. He graduated, handed me my diploma and started his life.  He’s always been exceptionally good with money For six or seven years now Jack has worked as a bartender and manager at some of the best known bars and restaurants from Manhattan to Nashville. He makes huge money for a young man. He dates beautiful women and is able to buy himself anything he wants from electronics to expensive tennis shoes.  But what Jack really loves to do is save his money and go on grand adventures. He goes surfing in Puerto Rico, hiking in Hawaii, he spent a month just hanging out on the beaches of Belize and swimming with manatee. He roams the globe from Turkey to Kentucky.

Last November jack called to tell me he wasn’t coming home for Christmas this year.  We were all shocked. Jack loves Christmas with the family. He explained he’d decided to host a dinner for all the homeless men in his Nashville neighborhood. He’d enlisted lots of local restaurants  to help, there were goodie bags with socks and gloves for the guys who showed up. And he had lots of unlikely volunteers who really wanted to help too. Bar people, who don’t normally volunteer, but were suddenly touched by the power and magic of giving to others. He called me Christmas eve so excited , so full of stories about serving these homeless men I just listened and cried.

Jack, the money making glob trotting man is now working on a way to create a Non-profit that connects unexpected volunteers with projects they can really get behind.

Jack and Mary have flip flopped and it’s absolutely spectacular. Nothing boring about it. I just want them to find their joy in life.

And Alex, maybe he’s changed a little.  He doesn’t mind if I buy crunchy peanut butter anymore and he’s learned how to text like a teenage girl. “I luv u”  with a little winky face. That’s progress.


If you like this story you can get a whole book full for just $2.99 on Amazon!




Explaining ISIS To An Eleven Year Old

mapOnce, my oldest daughter Mary, explained something to me.  She claimed all my children could carry on adult conversations because I explained everything to them. If a child asked me a question, I never said, “oh, that’s grown up stuff” or “you’re too young to understand that honey.”

When Mary was seven or eight and asked me what all the fuss was about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, I did my best to tell her what was going on. Obviously, I didn’t tell her anything about the blue dress or the cigars. I did however tell her the President was married and he shouldn’t have a girl friend.

When six year old Jack asked what meth was and why his friend’s daddy went to jail, I talked for twenty minutes.  I told him how disgusting Meth was, I told him how it was cooked and why his friends father went to jail.  I also told him I knew for a fact that daddy loved his son he just had a real bad problem.

I’ve tried to explain the Jewish faith, republicans, democrats, plagiarism, global warming, perjury, purgatory  and entitlement to very young children. Because they asked.

I often times make my kids watch a little bit of national news with me every week.  Not because I want them to be frightened or bored,  I just want my kids to know what’s going on in this world of theirs. Someday soon they will be in charge of things.

Recently, there have been three pressing issues I’ve had to visit with Sandor.  First there were the event in Ferguson, Missouri and the shooting of Michael Brown. I actually drew that one out for him. First I listed the few facts we actually had in the case. Then I drew circles with peoples reactions. There was the cop circle, the peaceful protesters circle, the looters circle, the National Guard circle, the media circle etc…

Last week I tried to explain Ebola. That was kind of a messy one. But he understood and didn’t freak out. (I kind of want to freak out).

And now he’s asked about ISIS. For the first time in twenty five years…..I can’t find the words. What do I tell him about an enemy so evil and unfathomable?  There’s nothing he can do to fight or change the situation with ISIS. When we’re talking about social issues like  like racism, poverty, bullying and  obesity I always make it clear to him he can change people and the world. But ISIS…I just don’t know.


If you want more Hampoland stuff you can order my book Raising Kids You Actually Like on Amazon. Thanks!


Boys, Books and Bribery….It’s A Good Thing

boys and booksboys and booksboys and books (2)The child experts who preach, “Never bribe your child” obviously don’t have any kids.  Bribery is the bread and butter of parenting. You just have to know how to work the system so you get what you want and your child thinks they are the winners.

This morning I had a whole list of things I needed to get done in the house and two restless little boys sliding across the floor in their underwear.  They desperately wanted to go swimming with their goggles: I desperately wanted my house cleaned up.

The third time they asked  about going to the pool I showed them my list of the things I had to finish. “Sadly guys there are so many things on this list I don’t know if I’ll have it all done in time to take you to the pool. If you help me, I promise we’ll get there in time. If you do two jobs each, I’ll even  take you to Books a Million  and you can each pick out a chapter book.”

Back to school is a week away and I’ve got to get their brains going again. The idea of anything new always always always get’s eleven year old’s excited and they each picked two jobs.

First, Sam pulled the cushions off the couch and vacuumed, Sandor unloaded the dishwasher,  They both put clean sheets on their beds, cleaned all the window sills and took the garbage out.

We were done with everything on the list in an hour. BRIBERY I Win!!!! (I’d high five myself if I could)

Once we were in the book store it took about thirty minutes for them to finally decided what  they wanted. Then we went swimming. On the way home Sam and Sandor asked if they could jump on the trampoline with the sprinkler when we got home.

“Sure you can, after you read the first chapter of your books.”

They knuckle bumped this victory.

Once we got home they were silent, sprawled on the couches reading. BRIBERY I Win!!!!

If  you are going to use the powerful tool of bribery you have to be smart and cunning about it. You should get what you want and it should be good for your kiddo. So, when the experts grill you, it looks like your bribery was a brilliant act of parenting.

But you have to use this took wisely. Don’t say to your children, “If you let me pick the tv show I’ll let you eat this giant bag of Cheetos.”  Don’t tell them “If you’ll get my cigarettes out of the car, I’ll let you have a sip of my beer.” Do not say “If you’ll let me sleep another hour you can play video games all day.”

Bribery is a good thing, don’t make it ugly. And when you get really good at it, your kids won’t even realize how you manipulate and control them. And that’s the ultimate goal, right?


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.