Door Knobs

Our house, Hampoland, is a comfortable mess. A strange, unorthodox home that’s served as a sanctuary not only for our four children, but for many of their friends, kids, stray dogs and young adults, who have sometimes needed a safe and happy refuge from the world.

Structurally, it’s miraculous the house still stands. Walls are cracked, so we spackle and paint. The floors rise and fall with the seasons. The answer…more throw rugs. Hampoland, is a five acre redneck homestead, our youngest daughter, Lex, who is 22, compares to a Dr. Seuss “Who House”.

This morning, I realized what I’ve known for years.  Most of the doors in our house can’t be fully closed and most of the door knobs are splattered with paint and are  a rattling, jacked up mess.  Our knobs are unable to fully close and lock any interior door in the house, much less keep it secured. They are loose and jangle in their holes, incapable of keeping anything inside or outside a room. Our doors can be pulled closed, then just as easily pushed open.

Years ago, we could have replaced all these useless door knobs, I suppose. But it never seemed important. New furniture has been moved in and out, cars have been bought and sold, kids have headed off to college, graduated and started their lives. But replacing the ten dollar door knobs was never a priority.

In this house, doors can’t really be closed. Push just a little and you’ll always be able to get in.  And maybe that’s a good thing. So, when Alex and I die and this house is demolished, I hope each of our children will take a trashed and useless Hampoland doorknob. Because, when there is love, doors can always be opened.

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……

What The Hell Am I Talking About?

kitty6One of the  most befuddling questions I hear every week….”so what’s your blog about?”  or “what do you write about?” Yikes, that’s tough, I should know what I write about but I don’t. I should have an ‘elevator description’ for Hampoland, something short, to the point, accurate and endlessly witty. I got nothing.

If you look at the counter at the bottom of the page you’ll see there have almost been one million hits. I’m astonished and grateful but I still don’t know what it is I’m writing about.

My standard answer is “I’m almost brilliant….fifty percent of the time”. But that’s not really an answer, just a flip rebuttal.

For the last two weeks I’ve been talking a great deal about my dad, I. Granger McDaniel, a visionary, a war hero, a miracle man. And while I was talking and talking and writing and writing I think I discovered a couple of my themes. I learned them from him.

1. Happiness is a choice you have to make every morning. It’s not something that arrives or is given to you by somebody else. Look around you, see your world, see the magic and love it.

2. With faith and hard work anything is possible. Happiness is possible, love is possible, magic is possible. But you have to have faith and work hard.

3. Always put your family first. From the begining and in the end that’s what matters.

Love, Diana

PS  I’m putting my family first by posting this link. It’s my son, Jack, and his band. Send them twenty dollars please. if you send them 100 they will write you a song!

Check it out please.