Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Take Your Kids to the Race Track and MMA Fights…It’s Good For Them

pokerI figured something out the other day about kids.  It’s really important to take them to as many weird places and events as you possibly can and I’m not talking about Wal-Mart and Burger King.  Take you little kids to rodeos and poetry readings, library’s, museums, plant nursery’s yoga studios and  and blues Festivals. If you have little white kids go visit a African American Church. If you have Asian babies take them to a Cinco de Mayo celebration or Hispanic grocery store.  Take your kids to odd ball places that are not part of their comfort zone so they are comfortable everywhere they go on this beautiful little planet of ours.

My family lives in a rural, red-neck,  predominantly white community in Arkansas. But I don’t want my kids to feel like that’s the only place they belong. I don’t want them to think that’s the only place they can live.  I want them to go further than the Dollar Store. I want my children to feel comfortable and confident no matter where they are, no matter what door they walk through. Southern or Yankee, rich or poor, educated or not, artsy, athletic or enlightened, I want my kids to have the ability to talk to anybody, no matter how different they might seem

So, I take them to demolition derby’s, jazz festivals, art galleries, Black History Month celebrations and mma fights. We go watch the horses run at Oaklawn Race Track and concerts with bell ringers. I try to expose them to all kinds of people and events and traditions so they will grow up knowing how expansive the world is and how many choices they have in life. Who knows what their passion and love might be. And if I don’t get them out of our little white-bread neighbor hood they might miss it completely.

When folks go to unfamiliar places and are surrounded by strange people it can be scary. You don’t know what to expect, so you cross your arms and look mean. When you feel out of place or unwanted you might be paralyzed with fear. Don’t do that to your kids.

I know it can be a nightmare, three year olds melt down and do that embarrassing worm thing on the floor. Four year olds want to touch everything, especially expensive things, that are easily broken. And five year old want to run….fast….all the time so taking them out in public is a little like running a 5K, But you need to do it show them this world so they are brave and excited to jump right in.

There are some places you might want to avoid. Terrorist meetings, Nazi parties and I shy away from Scream-o concerts because I don’t want my kid to turn into a scream-o terrorist Nazi.

And  one day, they will rise up, pound on their chests, put their hand in the air take and hold of their shining destiny. Hopefully, though they don’t do that in  public. That would be really embarrassing.

Kids, These are Some Of The Things That Really Piss Parents Off

asleepAdults, you don’t need to read this cause you already know the answers.  Kids, I thought I’d throw you a bone and tell you just a few of the things that really make your parents mad. These aren’t  the things that make us slam doors repeatedly, scream and break our favorite coffee mugs. These are the little things that make us sigh loudly, and lock our bedroom door because we don’t want to look at you.

When we ask you to water the plants, the cat and the dog in the morning.  We text you a reminder in the afternoon then come home from work to find you asleep on the couch. The cat, the dog and the plants are all dead, shriveled up from lack of water.  That actually happened. One of my kids had a parakeet and we watched it fall off this roost in the cage.  Birds need water.  We buried it’s colorful little body in the yard.

clogsWe really hate when we buy you nice new shoes and you smash down the back part and wear them like clogs.  Seriously, you’re so lazy you can’t put your shoes on all the way? Those are the shoes you “really really wanted”, so I paid sixty bucks for them, knowing you would outgrow them in a few months. Now they are clogs. Damn it, that pisses me off.

Sometimes we know you are rolling your eyes at us and thinking “what ever” in you mind. but we just can’t catch you doing it. But we know, we can feel it deep in our bones, what you are saying and doing.

Here’s one that really makes us crazy.  I tell you he seems like a good guy when he asks you out and you say “he’s just a friend, and he’s way too nice.” Then you date some dumb ass  misogynistic jerk who breaks your heart. Or boys, I tell you she’s a manipulative sleaze and you are completely surprised when you find out she’s been going out with the entire offensive line behind your back.

This happens all the time.  You ask to stay over with a friend. You tell me, “if you’ll let me I’ll help you with all that yard work when I get home.”  But you stay up till 4am at  your friends house, then come home and immediately fall into a death like sleep on the couch.

It’s my fault because I spoil you, but when I wash your clothes, make a nice neat stack and tell you to put them away, then find them behind your bed, on the floor or worse. I want to light myself on fire  when I tell you to clean up your room and  you just throw the clean clothes into a hamper and I find them, still folded, waiting to be washed again.

And then there are the obvious ones. We buy you new clothes but you still wear the old worn out stuff that’s stained and makes you look like you live in a box under a bridge.  There are the days we fix a really nice dinner, your favorite in fact, but you filled up on a Cheetos and Hot Pockets, so you don’t eat anything.

So, there you have it boys and girls, a partial list of the stuff you do that really pisses parents off. Now that you know, maybe you’ll stop. Or, perhaps you already know how bat poop crazy you’re making us. Perhaps you’re trying to make us insane so you can put us away. Then’ll you’ll stay up all night, eating Hot Pockets, rolling your eyes and killing all my plants.


Texting and the Dead Goat

goatA couple of weeks ago I saw a guy get his nose spread across his face like peanut butter by a wicked spin heel kick at a Taekwondo tournament. It was an inspiring and bloody mess. Lexie missed the astonishing kick because she was checking her texts.

While we were driving to the mall, Sandor and I watched a mother deer and her three tiny spotted fawns bound across the street, right in front of our car. Sandor and I  squealed and gasped as though having some kind of happy seizure but Lexie and her friend, missed it because they were texting.

Not long ago Sandor missed seeing a dead goat on the side of the road because he was playing with Lex’s phone.  Every little boy  wants to look at the bloated body of  a dead goat!

You get the idea and I’m just as guilty. Last week as Sandor was reading to me, telling me about the Basset Hound with the longest ears in the world (over a foot long according to the Guinness Book of World Records). He was waving his hands around talking about this dog, when my phone lit up. And I checked my text. The text from a co-worker said, “it’s raining here”.  And while I was reading that text Sandor wandered off because
I wasn’t paying attention to him anymore.

Kids text each other from the deer stand in the middle of the woods and entire families sit in the bleachers during football games staring at their phones. Yes, they manage to see the big plays but then they miss the coach when he high fives their son, they miss seeing their boy sitting alone and dejected on the bench, because he missed a big tackle.  We are all missing out on the moments that give life flavor.

As long as teenagers are texting or waiting for their phone to go off and make their butt buzz, they aren’t really engaged in life. If they are texting while they watch tv with the family, are in the car or sitting at the bus stop, they are in two different places at one time and they are missing the show.

I hate writing off an entire generation but, I think it’s too late for the teenagers and twenty year olds(sorry guys, you can’t be saved). The dye has been cast, so we might as well move on. But as parents we might be able to help our younger kids. Before you give them their first phone, make some rules for texting and make sure they apply to you as well.

1. No texting when you’re eatting with another person.

2. No texting when you are involved in an actual activity, like deer hunting, skydiving or wake boarding. Enjoy the moment, even if it’s a quiet one.

3.  If I’m driving NOBODY gets to text in the car. (you don’t want to miss seeing that dead goat)

Technology has gotten ahead of us.  Once upon a time we thought it was  a good idea to put cocaine in Coke-a-Cola and to give it to depressed middle aged women. We thought cigarettes were actually good for us. Doctors believed mercury baths were a great way to cure stds or venereal diseases (yup it cured the disease alright  but it also killed the patient).

After a while we figured out mercury and cocaine were actually BAD for us. Maybe that’s the case with of texting. We have an amazing technology but we don’t actually know how it will effect us socially, intellectually or physically in the future.

I recently read a report that teens make far less eye-contact now because they are so accustomed to looking at their damn cell phone.

Once, my son Jack, said, “nothing really important ever gets said in a text,” and he’s absolutely right. It can all wait. Don’t let texting blind you to the beauty, tragedy and taste  of life and stay away from the mercury baths.


My Son Loved Scary Spice When He Was 8….Scary Right?

scary spiceHere’s some big news….kids turn into exactly what they are going to turn into.   Now, I don’t have my degree in psychology and clinical sociology but I’m going to tell you some stories and give you some examples. Then you can draw your own conclusions. When we say, “Oh, he’ll grow out of that,” we might be wrong.

First…I’ll use my own son. Jack is 25 now and doing really well in Nashville.  He always saved his money, counted  and organized it.  In the past five years he’s traveled all over the world(Turkey, France Egypt, England, Hawaii and lots more)  cause he knows how to save his money and spend it on stuff he really wants.

When he was a very little boy and Mary loved the Spice Girls…. Jack loved one Spice Girl. All the other little boys were crushing on Baby Spice or Posh but  Scary Spice was his woman, at seven. A few years later He loved loved Gwen Stefani from No Doubt. Jack’s dating habits, as he’s traveled the world have absolutely leaned toward Scary Spice and Gwyn.

He still  loves strong, exotic women.  (Kenzie Greg reminds me of Gwyn in so many ways.)

Mary was always hot tempered, dramatic and giving to a fault.  One day, when she was eleven, she was waiting for me downtown. While I parked my car she gave her coat to an old street lady. She loved working at the Master’s Table and was constantly trying to save somebody. Today she works at the Clinton Foundation (saving the world) and she’s starting a non-profit to make birthday cakes for kids in homeless shelters.

One of Jack best friends grades 4th-10th was a very handsome blonde boy who loved Frank Sinatra and playing in the band. I mean he was obsessed with band.  He’s now a geeky band director in South Florida.

The hot blond girl in 8th grade who wanted to make out with all the boys all the time (I overheard them complaining that  she kissed so hard their lips got sore)  she had several beautiful babies before she was 23.

COMMERCIAL: I’ve never figured out how to make money from this blog. If you read Hampoland and it makes you smile sometimes I’m calling in the debt. You owe me. And here’s your chance to pay up.  visit this site http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/representing-america-in-european-taekwondo-championship  .Lex is trying to raise money to compete in London this summer and really needs your help.  Please make a donation…no matter how small. If you don’t help out I’ll know cause it shows me a list of donors. So if you are one of those folks who stops and talks to me about Hampoland but doesn’t donate….you’re a cheapo!  Thanks in advance. 

A young man who spent a lot of time with us, was quiet and wonderful and loved being in the woods, is studying to be a game warden in college.

And finally, there were  two different kids who bullied Mary  relentlessness,  for years (3rd grade-10th). One girl, one boy. They were brutal, abusive and obviously very angry about their lives.  Both have come out as gay and are now happy in committed relationships. Mary is actually friends with the guy now but when she was in 4th grade he tormented her so terribly, called her such vile names, she finally broke down and  said, “My daddy has a 9mm and he’s gonna come shoot you if you don’t stop saying that to me.”

Guess who got suspended from school for threatening another student?

Kids are gonna be what they’re gonna be but sometimes there are clues early on. We can only hope to shape them into caring and tolerant folks who make the world a better place. As the old adage goes, “It’s better to build a boy than mend a man.”

Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/representing-america-in-european-taekwondo-championship and help us out. Thanks again.

When You Are Mean To Your Kid, You Look Pathetic

kidPlease, stop being mean to your kids in public. I don’t care if you are a redneck in Wal-Mart or picking up a espresso in Starbucks. You look and sound like a witch when you are rude or snarky to your own child in public. Mean moms are the worst.

Seriously, do you think anyone wants to invite you over for a beer or a spin class when you treat your child with absolute disdain in public? Do you think the cute 26 year old guy with  sideburns and massive biceps wants to spend any time with a woman who is mean to her kids? Here’s what he’s thinking, ‘if she’s mean to her kids she’ll probably be mean to me too”.

And consider this, when you are mean, tense, rude or short with your child, I’m pretty sure, you look at least ten years older. It’s true, mean people looker older than nice ones.

Don’t yell at your three year old, don’t roll your eyes and hiss at your six year old when they touch the gum at the grocery store, don’t swat them on the back of the head or I’m going to inject myself into the situation. That’s right, I’m going to call you out in public and you’re going to get even more angry.

Ok, so you’re busy texting and talking and trying to decide what shade of hose you really need. Yeah, that stuff is pretty important, but don’t act like a spoiled thirteen year old when your child interrupts because he really has to go to the bathroom.

Smile, for God’s sake. He needs you. And don’t make the “I’m such a martyr ” sigh. Don’t make that noise that tells the world you are overworked and exhausted. Lot’s of moms seem to specialize in that noise. Cut it out.

Kids are irrational, moronic  they don’t understand anything, they need everything, they are demanding and rude and pushy and insane….cause they are babies. They are supposed to be that way.

And here’s my final tip, don’t spank a crying child and expect him to stop crying. She’s going to cry more if you hurt her. And again, you’re making your self look bad and everyone standing close to you is thinking that poor kid has such horrible, mean, stupid mom.

Disney Is Turning Your Kids Into Brats…Seriously

disneyHave you watched the Disney Channel in the past few years, have you kids?  If so you probably don’t like your children very much any more.

If your nine year old rolls her eyes and sighs constantly. If she treats her father like he’s an absolute moron, easily tricked by a bad costume or fake sneezes, she’s probably been watching the Disney Channel. If your daughter has become excessively bossy and prissy as though she’s suddenly become  a member of the Royal Family blame it on the Disney Channel.

If your fourteen year old daughter dresses like Kim Kardashian on LSD and tosses her like a parade pony. If she’s a drama queen, and I don’t mean a run of the mill drama queen, I mean the kind that turns every issue, like unloading the dishwasher, if she turns every conversation with a boy, every B+ instead of an A,  into the North Korean Nuclear Stalemate. If she’s snotty, disrespectful and treats your Maid, Butler, Nanny or Baby Sitter like leftover Taco Bell trash…she’s probably watching too much Disney Channel.

And then there are the Disney Boys.  Most of them are stupid. They all seem to be overly feminine,  bordering on gay. They are afraid of everything, dark rooms, spiders and especially the girls who yell at them all the time. Disney boys tend to be weak , indecisive and easily led astray by the loud and very  demanding girls. And they scream a lot, like little girls.

If one of my children acted like the kids on the Disney I would be horrified. I would also lock them in their rooms until they developed a soul or back bone. I’d rather have my off-spring act like the kids on Saved By The Bell, Welcome Back Kotter, The Cosby Show hell even Married With Children, Modern Family or the  Simpsons would be an improvement.  Because today’s Disney kids are so annoying.

So, if you find yourself looking for any  place to go after work, instead of heading home to your family, you might need to cancel the Disney Channel.  Of put a trailer on the front yard until your kids graduate from high school.

Today I read an Associated Press article from Seattle encouraging parents to change channels if they wanted their kids behavior to improve . But they wanted parents to switch from violent show to educational.

Where Did All My Families’ Money Go?

hats  Last night my daughter, who is sixteen, asked me what happened to all my family money.

She knows, when I was little my family was pretty close to being rich.  We were in the neighborhood. We didn’t have “old money” like the Kennedy’s or Rockefeller s  But we lived well, very very well.

I went to private schools. We had memberships in all the golf and tennis clubs in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Boca Raton, Florida. We always had maids and even took them on vacation  so my mom didn’t have to watch me all the time. I took English horseback riding lessons so I could compete in dressage and we had a reserved box at the Boca Raton Polo Club. I had a boat when I was 13 . I was a debutante and traveled to Europe several times before I was 21. We had a place on the lake and my grandmother’s big family house on Prospect Avenue in Hot Springs.

We had some money.

These days my husband and I work a lot of hours every week to hang on to our five acres and home. The house is falling down. Sometimes we have a couple thousand dollars in the bank, sometimes, when one of the kids needs an extra 100 dollars it’s hard to scrape it up.  We manage to go on vacation (to Gulf Shores)  every five years. We don’t have any money and we don’t have  box seats to the polo matches.

So, what happened to all the money. It’s that same sad story I write about sometimes. But there’s a happy ending, so hang in there. When I was sixteen my father, who was 51 and my brother Jack who was 24 , both died tragically just two weeks apart.

My mom was a CPA, but she was so grief stricken and paralyzed with pain she could function. She made bad investment, then liquidated assets to make more bad investment.  She wasn’t able to pay attention to the paperwork required by life and the IRS. And all the money was gone in five or six years. Bottom line…the IRS got most of it.

Here’s what I remember about my life when I had money. There was a lot of fighting. The people I loved the most were always angry at each other. My oldest brother, my dad and mom were constantly in the throes of battle.  Everybody loved me and took care of me, but I remember hiding in my room crying because of all the screaming and arguing …and it all generally revolved around my brother’s behavior when he was a teenager , he did a lot of really bad stuff….and money.

goofy with my momHere’s what is true about our life today. We are here in Hampoland and we love each other. We play and joke and tease. We call each other “poop face” and “buckethead”.  Mary and Jack love to lick everybody’s face when we are taking pictures. We have secret jokes and hand shakes. And we call ourselves “Team Us”. There is very rarely an argument or fight in the house.

Because we are a member of our own team we all take care of each other. Sandor, the ten year old is sick right now and Lexie offered to make him tea or hot chocolate.

We don’t have any money, we don’t go to polo matches, it’s a big damn deal when we get to go out to dinner. Sometimes we roll change and we’re late paying bills because we simply don’t have the money. My car has 237,000 miles on it.

But all the kids go to college and we love each other.

We don’t have a maid (Lord I need one) but we have joy and we have each other.

Boy would I love to get my boat back and go on a vacation. But what we have now is so much better. If my kids argued all the time and stayed in their rooms all the time just to avoided us, I would be heartbroken. No amount of money could fix the heartbreak.

I told Lexie she’ll have the education to build her own empire if that’s what she wants. Because we come from money she’ll fit right into society, if that’s what she wants. All the kids were raised as though they were semi-wealthy. They can walk into any room, shake hands and fit.

But more importantly, all my kids know how to build their own “Hampoland”. And when they do, I hope I’m there to lick some foreheads and call them all “poop face” cause that’s the good stuff.

(See, I told you this story had a happy ending.)


The Power Of A Brutal Song

  Sometimes my kids do something so unexpected and extraordinary,  my understanding of the world changes just a little.

Jack has been a musician for years. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad (there was a song called “We Need More Hot Asian Chicks) and sometimes it’s ugly. The first time I went to one of his shows six or eight years a go he came out on stage in a tuxedo and by the end of the first song he’d stripped down to his boxers.

Now my son, who never stopped playing and writing music, is in Nashville.  He has joined forces with some astonishingly good musicians..they are Natural Outlaws.

Six months ago he called me with some lyrics he couldn’t get out of his head. As I drove he read some of them to me. “I just want to make you proud. I hope you hear me I’m singing awful loud. This old moonshine’s got no decency…”

Listening to him, I was kind of lost. I couldn’t figure out where he was going with the song.  All his  other  songs and lyrics had typically revolved around guns, whiskey and women. Pork chops and gravy music, that’s witty and evil and dangerous and makes you want to do double shots and dance with construction workers. Not a good thing for a middle aged mom, but fun. 

Over the next few months he mentioned this particular song in passing. The band was working on it in the studio. Their seemingly possessed drummer Matt, who went to Berkley, and looks and plays like a red-headed Viking,  sounded amazing.  Dan, who has played classical piano since he was five has be “ruint”. He now had some nasty and trashy honky tonk shit working in it the song.

A couple of months ago Jack sent me the rough cut of Make You Proud.  It gave me goose bumps, something that had never happened when I listened to his songs. I was stunned by the beauty and complexity of the entire arrangement.

Ryan is the bands guitarist and his music is generally very physical. It’s “boy rock and roll” verging on country brutality.  And Clark’s bass work changes your heart rhythm. Most Natural Outlaw songs  will land you in prison but this one was different.

This song made me stop and think and feel.I had to listen to it three or four times to understand all the soaring layers. What the hell was going on with those boys?

And the Natural Outlaws have finally given me permission to share it.

It’s the first song on their new webpage. http://www.naturaloutlawmusic.com/

I don’t know what will happen with the Natural Outlaws or this song. But this song does it. This song makes me proud.

Poor Kids Are Awesome

A few days ago my son, Jack, said “growing up poor was awesome.”

I pressed him to explain what the hell he was talking about.  As far as I’m concerned being poor is not awesome, it’s not even kind-of-cool. Being poor sucks and ranks right up there with having the chicken pox.

First, I want to state, we have never been poor.  When Jack and Mary were little, we were clinging to the lower end of middle class but we were never poor.  Jack and Mary however, love telling stories about their glorious, impoverished, redneck childhood.

When they were little, we never went on vacations. Instead, we spent almost every weekend in the summer playing in the creek not far from the house. I would pack up their friends, Bryce and Kay, some cheap red sodas and crackers.  They would slide around on the little rock water fall for hours and we would catch army’s of crawdads, then then turn them all loose.

One winter we couldn’t afford to go to the skating rink in Little Rock so we tried to make one in the yard with a giant piece of plastic and the garden hose. It didn’t work but we laughed a lot.

All their clothes came from Wal-Mart. Until Jack was in 6th grade. The whole family was ridiculous proud of his first expensive pair of  shoes.  Alex paid $80 for a pair of And One basketball shoes. The entire team was impressed. Back then, it was a really big deal when anyone at Fountain Lake got a new pair of Nikes much less And Ones.

Ok, we were pretty broke most of the time. The kids never qualified for free lunches but I do remember, after church we would roll through the Burger King drive through and get one happy meal. One child got the burger and one got the fries and they split the drink.  A two happy meal day was a really big deal.

At least once a year Alex had to pawn his 9 mm hand gun so we could buy school supplies (those cost 120 for both kids) or buy Christmas presents.  But we always paid off the loan and and got his gun back. Good news now Alex has an arsenal and he hasn’t pawned anything in years.

But all their  friends were in the same shabby economic party barge so they didn’t realize just how broke we were. We had food, electricity and a lot of fun. I grew up wealthy so at least once a week I had a meltdown but the truth is the kids were really, really happy and well adjusted.

The really great thing about kids who grow up on a shoe string….they are  very easy to impress. Great big malls, elaborate Christmas lights, concerts and nice shoes make them so happy.

Kids who grow up with money, in big cities, are rarely in awe…of anything. They’ve already seen better. But poor kids are pretty excited about everything, they’re amazed, the recognize the beauty, they marvel and smile.

My youngest son, Sandor, still says, “Oh my goodness” when we walk into the Hot Springs Mall at Christmas time.  And our Mall is tiny, but Sandor who is nine, thinks its magical. (And yes, he really says “oh my goodness”, he also plays football so don’t make fun of him.) Imagine how he’ll react when he sees Rockefeller Center or Big Ben.

Maybe Jack and Dolly Parton are right. There is a noble magic to growing up almost poor.  I just hope that sense of wonder and awe  stay with my kids for the rest of their lives.

Oh My Lord, don’t Look Behind the Couch

I haven’t moved the couch in the living room in over a week. Today, I’m alone in the house and decided it was time. Damn…what a collection of stuff.

Of course there’s cat and dog hair but I found two test tubes full of green/gray slime from Sandor’s Dr. Demento kit.  He’ been trying to find a cure for peole with gas, but in our house we call it “popping”.  No luck yet.

There was some of his homework. Homework we did, but was never handed in. That explains the frowny faces from his teacher.

I found two guitar picks, a very nice empty wallet I don’t recognize. Have my kids been mugging people and hiding the evedence behind the couch? Maybe it’s a pretty good plan.

The four of clubs and ten of spades were both back there, explaining my exceptionally poor luck playing  solataire this week. I thought I just sucked.

A pink bra I’ve been looking for since Wednesday.

Three nerf bullets, a single flip flop, two dirty sock, a go-gert wrapper, a checker and a pair of tongs. I can’t explain those. I also found my long lost Keb Mo cd.

I don’t know if this happens to everyone and I’m kind of embarassed to ask. If the answer is no I don’t know what I’ll use an excuse.

 But I’m thinking if I wait two weeks to look behind the couch next time I might find the holy grail or the body of Jimmy Hoffa. could be interesting and maybe it’ll payoff.