I Still Can’t Dance

danceAlright men, this one is for you. But I need you to promise me one thing. This is really, really important.  If your girlfriend, wife, sister or daughter has something in their life and it makes them happy, smile and say, ‘that’s a great thing!”  Even if you are lying. Do it with a smile. Say it like you mean it and love her.

Years ago, I think my husband and I had been married three or four years. He teased me about my dancing. He made fun of me, in a loving fun way. I haven’t danced once since then, in fifteen years later.

Trust me I loved dancing. I am a freak about music.  Ask me for  the lyrics to a Johnny Cash song, Grateful Dead, The Killers, The Clash, Miranda Lambert, George Jones, John Prine, Gil-Scott Heron, Al Green, Aretha Franklin or Keb Mo’. I know them all, every word, and I can hear the beat in my head. But when I dance or try to keep rhythm it comes out all wrong.  In church I have to look at the other people to know when I’m supposed to clap. My kids laugh at me, but they help and they don’t make me feel bad.

But years ago. when I was dancing with my husband and he made fun of me, afterwards….I took it to heart and I stopped dancing. Something in me broke and that was an end.

Dancing is something so wonderful I really don’t have the words. It’s what sets us apart from most animals. It’s an expression of joy, love creativity and passion. When people finish dancing they walk away smiling usually and there are very few things that make us all smile in life.

At that point, when I was made fun of me, I lost something so wonderful and precious and fun.Apparently it’s gone forever.  Fifteen years later I mourn the loss of being able to dance like the death of a friend, who made me smile and laugh. I miss it so because dancing was wonderful and joyous and silly. But it’s gone now. I’m a pretty bold and strong person, so if this could happen to me I can only imagine what has been taken from other people by a single sentence.

After his comments I actually went back and found video of my dancing at bars and weddings. It was awful, spasmatic and embarrassing. I made Elaine, in Seinfeld, look like a Russian Ballerina. But I looked happy.

Tonight I cried and cried as I sat in the bathtub and watched the last twenty minutes of  Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swazey and Jennifer Grey. Their beautiful and brave dancing made me cry so hard, I was embarrassed…even though I was alone.  I so want to dance like those kids, but I never will, not in this life time.

In that moment years and years ago, something was taken from me and it’s just gone.  It’s not any bodies fault….it was just a joke, an off handed remark. Actually I know it’s my fault because I let dance be taken away from me. He couldn’t have done it if I didn’t let him.

So, before you make fun of somebody for something they love, something that brings them joy like line dancing or quilting or speed walking…stop, then shut up.

 

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I Still Can’t Dance

dancingAlright men, this one is for you. But I need you to promise me one thing. This is really, really important.  If your girlfriend, wife, sister or daughter has something in their life and it makes them happy, smile and say, ‘that’s a great thing!”  Even if you are lying. Do it with a smile. Say it like you mean it and love her.

Years ago, I think my husband and I had been married three or four years. He teased me about my dancing. He made fun of me, in a loving fun way. I haven’t danced once since then, in fifteen years later.

Trust me I loved dancing. I am a freak about music.  Ask me for  the lyrics to a Johnny Cash song, Grateful Dead, The Killers, The Clash, Miranda Lambert, George Jones, John Prine, Gil-Scott Heron, Al Green, Aretha Franklin or Keb Mo’. I know them all, every word, and I can hear the beat in my head. But when I dance or try to keep rhythm it comes out all wrong.  In church I have to look at the other people to know when I’m supposed to clap. My kids laugh at me, but they help and they don’t make me feel bad.

But years ago. when I was dancing with my husband and he made fun of me, afterwards….I took it to heart and I stopped dancing. Something in me broke and that was an end.

Dancing is something so wonderful I really don’t have the words. It’s what sets us apart from most animals. It’s an expression of joy, love creativity and passion. When people finish dancing they walk away smiling usually and there are very few things that make us all smile in life.

At that point, when I was made fun of me, I lost something so wonderful and precious and fun.Apparently it’s gone forever.  Fifteen years later I mourn the loss of being able to dance like the death of a friend, who made me smile and laugh. I miss it so because dancing was wonderful and joyous and silly. But it’s gone now. I’m a pretty bold and strong person, so if this could happen to me I can only imagine what has been taken from other people by a single sentence.

After his comments I actually went back and found video of my dancing at bars and weddings. It was awful, spasmatic and embarrassing. I made Elaine, in Seinfeld, look like a Russian Ballerina. But I looked happy.

Tonight I cried and cried as I sat in the bathtub and watched the last twenty minutes of  Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swazey and Jennifer Grey. Their beautiful and brave dancing made me cry so hard, I was embarrassed…even though I was alone.  I so want to dance like those kids, but I never will, not in this life time.

In that moment years and years ago, something was taken from me and it’s just gone.  It’s not any bodies fault….it was just a joke, an off handed remark. Actually I know it’s my fault because I let dance be taken away from me. He couldn’t have done it if I didn’t let him.

So, before you make fun of somebody for something they love, something that brings them joy like line dancing or quilting or speed walking…stop, then shut up.

 

 

 

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A Letter From My Father…1943

irvin-mcdaniel powMy dad, I. Granger McDaniel, spent four years in German POW camps during World War II.  I just found a brittle and faded letter he wrote to his father while a prisoner.  He forged his own birth certificate and high school diploma to join the RAF, so he was just 18 or 19 years old when he wrote this letter, which is beautifully written.

Dear Dad; Thanks for your swell card, it certainly helped! Excuse this lettering I can do better. I have been studying a little Architecture. Just as a hobby mostly history. I’m extremely pleased to know you are getting along so well. We will have a big time when I get back.

I guess I would like to come home and say “Well dad I know now you were right and I’m ready to listen to you now, and start a a-new where I left off” but I’m afraid that pride which I inherited from you, will prevent me from ever doing so.  The hell of this situation is I can’t plan in anyway for the future, however, have chosen my work and now must stick to it. Ol’ fate  kinda slipped me a lousy hole card but i’m hoping that it will suffice to make me just that much stronger. I have some fine ideas for when i get out. One is for remodeling the house. Tell everyone hellow for me and keep Cal. working. If you run across any old Architecture books try and get them for my collection I’m going to have. Take good care of mom for me. Bo-

There’s nothing much I can ad to the beauty and eloquence of this letter.  He was a hell of a man.

Recently a RAF historian contacted me. he’s put up a whole page about Dad’s plane being shot down…and more.

http://218squadron.wordpress.com/pilot-officer-irven-granger-mcdaniel/

 

 

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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!

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Kids-You-Actually-Like-ebook/dp/B00NN2FOBW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411050534&sr=8-1&keywords=diana+mcdaniel+hampo

 

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A Whole Hampoland Book!

Breaking news, you can order an entire book of Hampoland now, from Amazon. and it’s just $2.99

http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Kids-You-Actually-Like-ebook/dp/B00NN2FOBW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410980636&sr=8-1&keywords=diana+mcdaniel+hampo

 

 

 

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Ketchup for Dinner

ketchupThis morning, my eleven year old son, asked if he could put some Ramen Noodles in his backpack.

I asked him why?

“Well sometimes there’s food at Hunter’s house and sometimes there’s not. Last time I went over there was just ketchup.”

“What are you talking about?”

Hunter is his good good friend. Skinny, loyal to a fault  and silly. He won’t really talk to you until he’s known you for a while.  He loves playing hide and go seek in the dark and jumping off high stuff into the lake.

Sandor and Hunter generally hang out at  house but sometimes I let Sandor ride the bus to Hunters.

“It’s just that sometimes they have like every thing in the world to eat and sometimes there’s nothing. So I wanted to take the Ramen in case it’s a nothing day.”

That’s when I figured out what was going on. Hunter and his mom and sister get food stamps. She’s single and works (she might make eight dollars an hour)  but it’s not enough. When the food and food stamps run out…that’s it for a while.

Thankfully, Hunter gets free breakfasts and lunches at school every day, during the school year. He’s a good boy. He shouldn’t be hungry.  But I worry about him in the summer, when school is out. He stays at our house more and that’s a good thing.

I’m writing this now because the political season is here.   I hope our politicians understand there are people in their districts just like Hunter and his mom.  Those meals at school are vital. I know hand outs are not the answer but the “working poor” are a reality.  Don’t turn your back on Hunter.

 

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The Beauty of Breakfast

banannaBreakfast, most of us have habits we are comfortable with.  Mornings are the most predictiable time of our day.  In the radio world the morning drive is a lot more expensive because you’re likley going to reach the same listeners every day. In the mornings most of us are creatures of habit. We do most things in the same order everyday. We wake up, brush our teeth, get some coffee, read, shower, watch the news.  It’s the same thing day after day.

Every morning I do something that makes my husband Alex crazy. I take my first cup of coffee into the bathroom, turn on the shower (hot) close the lid on the toilet then sit and read for twenty minutes in the sound proof, steamy bathroom. That’s what makes me happy.

But Alex makes me crazy in the morning too? He gets up two hours before I do and I know he sits in the living room and smokes his first days’ cigarette in the living room.  He’s not supposed to smoke in the house, but I know he does….before I wake up.

The only thing that changes in our house every morning is the breakfast menu. This morning Sandor and Sam had fish sticks with ketchup and sliced tomatoes, yesterday it was pizza bites, the day before Honey Nut Cheerios. Sometimes we have scrambled eggs and sometimes cheese quesadillas with salsa.

My lack of breakfast loyalty comes, I think, from my father.  He was always experimenting at breakfast.  There were protein milk shakes with raw egg, pizza toast with sauce and melted cheese and one of his favorites…popcorn and grapes.  He thought that combination was just like cereal with fruit. Dad even thought steak tar tar with a raw egg and Tabasco was a fine option.

Mornings are so tough, I kind of think you should get to eat what makes you happy, within reason.   If I wake Sandor up and say, “Hey boy, get ready for some awesome buttered toast,” he’d never get out of bed.  But when I say “come try mybanannas and strawberries with chocolate sauce,” he’s all over it.

Personally, I don’t like sweet stuff in the morning. I’d much rather have a taco and hot sauce for breakfast than a donuts. But it’s all abut what makes you happy in the morning. Do what it takes to get out the door. You’ve got the rest of the day to get your fiber and eat salads.

 

 

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Five Things You Have To Teach Your Kids…Or Go To Jail

badA few days ago I asked my daughter had to sew a do-dad shiny thing on my shirt. All she had to do was a few quick loops and it would be done. When I put my shirt something was very very wrong. She actually sewed the front of the shirt to the back. I had to cut my way  out.

There are life skills you have to teach your kids or you should go to jail.

1.I preach the importance of teaching your kid to shake hands like a man all the time. So you know that.  If your child doesn’t know how to make eye contact and say, “nice to meet you” everyone will assume he’s a pathetic loser. Life is tough and judgmental like that.

2. Make sure you teach your children how to sew a button on a shirt. If they can do that, they’ll figure the rest out.

3. Teach your kids, boys and girls, how to throw a ball without looking like a dweeb.

4. You have to teach them to swim and ride a bike because once they get old it’s almost impossible to overcome the fear of drowning and falling. Kids are stupid and brave, they’ll do anything if you tell them they can.  They have faith in you and believe in magic so take care of bike riding and swimming before they are five.

5. And finally teach your kid how to use a knife and fork properly and how to set a table. The other day a 10th grade boy came to our house and we all sat staring,  stunned as he tried, unsuccessfully to cut his meat…and it wasn’t that tough. Finally he managed to cut a strip off then he just nibbled it off the fork. It was painful to watch.

There are some kids I don’t invite to go out to dinner with us because it’s embarrassing and they are too old to help.  They eat like animals because nobody took the time to teach them how to use a knife and fork.  They don’t have bad manners, they simply don’t have any manners at all. It’s sad and bizarre. Be a good parent, take the time, don’t loose your patience and teach your children the stuff they need to know. You can’t expect football coaches to teach them everything.

 

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The Worst Day Ever

lex7Sandor and I helped Lexie move into her college dorm room today. It was terrible.

We did all the usual stuff, moved the bed, ran back to the store to buy cleaning supplies and a garbage can.  I gave her a hard time for not bringing a picture of me or Sandor.

Then it was time to leave her there on campus, surrounded by smiling frat boys who offered to carry heavy stuff and cute girls who were very helpful and friendly. While we were hugging for a really long time the tears started. Mine and Sandor’s, not Lexies.

I’ve done this three times and all three of my kids have earned full scholarships to college so yes, I’m really proud of them.

But the reality is once they leave for college they are gone.  They come back for weekends and summers but they are gone.

A million years ago a wrote a novel, Invisible Branches. I described waiting for the school bus to bring Mary and Jack home, and when it did and I heard them laughing and running up the driveway I felt like my heart was home.  Now it’s in a dorm room an hour away.

Lexo the cowgirl who wore red cowboy boots for nearly two years is gone.

One of the things gnawing at me, is the thought that I haven’t taught her enough or she wasn’t really listening when I warned her about the dangers of drunken frat parties, the dangers of a real city. All my kids are ridiculously confident and strong. Sometimes caution is a good thing.

She’s good at handling her money, actually cheap, but what if…

She loves to work out and eats pretty well, but what if…

I’m worried she won’t get enough sleep, she’ll meet charming handsome bad guys, she won’t ask for help when she needs it, she’ll forget to lock her car doors when she’d driving at night and will pay too much for college text books.

I’m worried she won’t she won’t be home to hug Sandor after a bad day at school and he won’t have her to snuggle with and watch Adventure Time and I Carley. I’m worried she  won’t be here to make her dad laugh, and she’s one of the very few who can do that. And I’m worried she won’t be her to hold my hand when we sit on the couch, to make fun of me when I try to talk like a cool kid. I’m worried because she won’t be here to side kick me in public and to say things like, “hurry home, I’ve got so much to tell you.” She won’t be here to make us all dance in the kitchen.

Obviously, Lex will be just fine. She listened when I lectured. She knows what she’s in for.

But coming home from work will never be quite the same for me.

 

 

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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?

 

 

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