Today Lex, who is a junior in high school, texted me. “made a 90 on pre-cal test”.
I texted back “happy chickens.”
Happy chickens? Yup. In Hampoland, in my house, when we are really happy we say “happy chickens”. Then one person extends an open palm and the other pretends to be a chicken and pecks at the imaginary feed in the open palm. Weird, right? But it’s one of our things. Happy chickens. It’s kind of like a Hampoland secret handshake.
If we want to make somebody laugh we just say, “nipple nipple nipple.” That’s a really fun word and makes everybody happy.
Several members of the family are bi-polar. It’s gone on for generations. And when one of us is manic and full of ideas, good, bad, brilliant and crazy….we call it “popcorn brain”.
I’ll call Jack and say, “I have popcorn brain” he know that means I have too many ideas popping around in my head and don’t know which ones I should throw away. The ones I dismiss are “burnt kernels” .
My family has a secret language. Nobody else knows what we’re talking about but Mary understands exactly what I mean when I say, “we can handle this. We are ‘Team Us'”.
When Jack and Mary were little, Team USA, the first Dream Team with Michael Jordan, hit the scene.Posters and tee shirts said “Team US”. We were pretty broke then so I told the kids we were “Team Us”. Nothing was more important than Team Us and we would always take care of Us. This message sunk in and to this day, twenty years later, Team Us is hampoland and we are all proud team members.
Five years ago one of my children went crazy and ran off to Canada with a semi-pro hockey player. Sandor who was three at the time said, “you can’t go to Can’t- a- da.” In Hampoland Canada is always pronounced “can’t-a-da”. And we all get it.
My mom, Ann Stell, died when Jack and Mary were three and four. But she used to say “try not to think hippopotamus.” When I say that to Lex she knows exactly what I’m talking about. It means thinking about something people tell you not to think about is freaking impossible!
A few years ago we had a dog that was literally insane. Seriously, there was something wrong with this little hound dog. One day he pooped in my shoe, which was in my closet. I don’t mean on my shoe, the dog actually pooped in my shoe. So, sometimes, we say, “At least he didn’t poop in your shoe.” That means things are bad but they could be much much worse.
Secret languages are magical. They build bridges and provide band aides. I love “happy chickens” it reminds me we are and always will be “Team Us” . And there’s not another team on the planet who speaks our language or understands the hampoland accent and dialect.