Stupid Wonderful Nicknames Pooh Bear, Bimbo and The Alligator Farm

Standing in the bank, moving money around,  I hear a voice, “Hey Pooh Bear”! I look over and see a 60 year old man, gray hair, lovely suit, waving at me on the far side of the bank lobby. He’s actually the bank president and he was my brother, Granger’s, buddy, forty five years ago. He’s a handsome bank president and he still calls me Pooh Bear.  He gives me a big hug and for a warm moment I’m home again with my brother and all his friends. But Granger has been dead for almost a year. Still, I feel loved because he used my nickname.

Nicknames are a double edged sword.

 By the time I turned 25 I despised being called Pooh Bear with a red hot lava like hatred. Now, when I hear Pooh Bear I just smile because I know it’s someone who knew my family and loved us. It’s a sweet sound.

When new friends use my old nickname it sounds wrong, almost offensive.  If they weren’t part of the history and story they shouldn’t use the name. It’s not their story.  Nicknames are personal, kind of like a secret handshake. If you aren’t part of the club you shouldn’t try to use it.

I have a cousin, handsome and smart guy named Daley. But growing up EVERYONE called him Bimbo. And I thought Pooh Bear was bad.

Growing up in Hot Springs, Arkansas my best friends when I was really little (4 to 7) were Pinky and Squampy. Pinky was probably 7 when I was 5 and Squampy was 3. Our moms ran in a local theater group, The Community Players.

 One Friday evening,Pinky, Squampy and I were left alone, again, at the Community Players  while our moms directed and stared in A Street Car Named Desire.

There was a tourist attraction next door to the theater,The Alligator Farm.  It’s a little place with a lot of gators in shallow pools. But there was a big fat tree growing out of the parking lot and it stretched out across the gator pools.

While our moms were busy with Blanche and Stanley,  Pinky convinced us to crawl out on the tree branch, over the alligator pools.

An hour later the adults started looking for us. We’d shimmied out on a thick branch and were staring at dozens of alligators. But Squampy, the youngest, was afraid to shimmy backwards, so we couldn’t get off the branch.

All three of us  were clutching the phone pole sized branch, waiting to get eaten or  for grown ups to find us. If I’d died that day  the newspaper head line might have read “Alligator Eats Pooh Bear!”

Mary, my oldest daughter, is gorgeous now, but when she was little she was kind of silly looking. We called her Buddy Hackett (I swear she looked like him),  and we called her Murry. Why Murry? Because when we went to the beach she refused to keep her top on. So we decided if we called her Murray, everyone would think she was a little boy.

Nicknames…they suck, they embarrass us, we hate them. But now, that I’m an adult and fairly confident, and feeling like I have nothing to prove, Pooh Bear doesn’t embarrass me. It makes me feel loved. Murray makes Mary laugh because she knows how beautiful she is and it’s a great story. 

Once you grow up and figure out who you are, nicknames are pretty wonderful. They are part of your story.  Pinky, Squampy and Biimbo, I still love you.

Got a nickname, a comment or idea…WRITE TO ME at hampoland@gmail.com or leave a comment.

 

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Three Guaranteed Ways To Look Younger

Growing up is pretty wonderful but getting older  bites. But, I’ve discovered three things that are  absolutely guaranteed  to make you look younger. And you don’t have to spend 125 dollars on a quarter ounce of “youth serum”.

1. STOP WEARING FRUMPY BLACK AND GRAY SHIRTS, SWEATERS AND DRESSES. Seriously, the black bag you’re calling an outfit does not make you look thinner or pretty. It’s ugly ugly ugly. Women over the age of 45 generally look depressed and exhausted when they wear black. Put on something bright, maybe even a print. I’m not talking old lady print with massive purple Lily’s and zebras but please find a shirt with some excitement or attitude, it will help your face so much. Give up on the Blob O’ Black. Next time you are in a big store look at the women wearing great big black things. Do they look happy or young? Hell no.

2. Turn the music up really really loud in your car and sing, hard core. When was the last time you did it? It’s so much fun, you’ll feel much younger and if you feel younger you will look younger. That’s right, 60 year old lady, I want you to crank up the Police and sing Roxanne as loud as you can, the way you did in 1979  . Sing it loud baby, slaughter that song, maybe roll down the windows and let the wind wreck you Ashe Blondie hair-do. Goofy singing people always look younger and happier.

3.Laugh, out loud.  According to Wikipedia the average baby laughs 300 times a day but adults only laugh 20 times in 24 hours.  What’s wrong with us?  The world is funny as hell but we stop laughing. We take everything  SOOO seriously. Most of us are extraordinarily blessed, we have food and shelter, we have Wal-Mart, coffee in the morning, clean air and CDs in our car, but we focus on the 1% of our life that’s messed up. Stop doing that, instead laugh out loud like a monkey, bray like a mule. Count your blessings, literally, count them on your fingers and toes…you are probably so blessed you’ll run out of digits before you run out of blessings.  You need to lighten up, be grateful and you’ll look ten years younger.

If you want to look younger, act like a goof, be silly and stop wearing black. Silly goofy people may look stupid but they look young and happy too. Remember, “we are fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”

Write to me or comment…that’ll make you look younger too. hampoland@gmail.com

 

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Bi-Polar Dictator at The Breakfast Table

A good mom (or dad, I don’t want to be sexist) in the morning has to be both bi-polar and zen to get kids to school on time. you gotta be be exquisitely irrational, brutal and daring. One person, with just one personality, doesn’t stand a chance . Every morning I’m the wheeling dealing gambler, dictator, stand up comedian, dancing diva, chef, dj.

Daughter, “Mom what’s it like today?”

“Warm and rainy, almost 80 degrees,” Meteorologist Mom

“What shoes with this?” It’s a short fluffy skirt and Chuck Norris tee-shirt.

“Cowboy boots, not the suede ones, because of the rain, maybe a belt or  something shiny with that shirt.” Fashion designer mom says.

I open the lap top and daughter says sweetly, “Lil Wayne, please?”

DJ/ Censor Mom yells, “Are you out of your mind? He can’t listen to that. Next request?”

“LMFAO?”

We all laugh our way through ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It.” I do my little hootchie coochie dance.

Then boy asks for Weird Al. Nothing better in the morning. Pop Scholar Mom has everything on the lap top or can find it on YouTube.

But boy is still just staring at his scrambled eggs.  He’s not a morning eatter, but I have to get a few calories in the kid. The Wheeler Dealer mom says, “What’s it gonna take to get you to eat?”

“I could do a donut.”

“Ok, you eat half the eggs  and you can have a donut. But you have to drink milk, not juice.”

“Ok,” he says and crams exactly half the pile of eggs in his mouth, it’s grotesque. He swallows it all, as though taking a dose of cod liver oil.  Nutritionist Mom hands him a donut and a glass of milk.

Daughter appears, looking really cute, in the boots and skirt. “So Mom, Roy is acting like such a punk to Heather since they broke up. He’s hanging all over other girls, big time. He gave Jessica a full back rub at lunch just to bug her.  I swear I want to punch him in the face.”

“No face punching.”

She makes a face. “Then I’m going to talk to him and tell him to cut it out.”

“That won’t work,” Says Relationship Counselor Mom.  “That’ll just give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s upsetting her. Just make sure she’s no where near him. If she can’t see him doing stupid stuff it won’t bug her.  And make sure you keep her busy. Do something fun Friday night.”

“I still want to punch him. Stupid mean boys.”

“Yeah, stupid boys.” I say and she laughs.

“Hey, stop talking about stupid boys,” son says. He has a huge milk mustache.

“Oh my lord, boy! You don’t have any pants on yet. You have to wear pants to school, I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.  Go get dressed. We leave in seven minutes.”

It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes an entire staff of  schizophrenic forward thinking professionals.

*What’s your morning like Write to me at hampoland@gmail.com or leave a message. They make me happy.

 

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The Day I Met Muhammad Ali…I Was Nine

    Silliest thing on the planet.  My buddy Amelia gave me a  box of Wheaties because Muhammad Ali was on the front. She knows I have had a ridiculous love affair  with Ali for more than forty years. I read the Wheaties caption for Ali…” the Ambassador of Sportsmanship”! I dropped my cereal spoon in shock.

Ali was a vain, pompous, braggadocio. “I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round,” he said famously.

He was famous for insulting his  opponents relentlessly. He said to Sonny Liston, “Hey, come on you big ugly bear, I’ll turn you into a rug! ”

He called Joe Frazier  an “Uncle Tom” a “gorilla” and  said he was “so ugly he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.” — Ali was a terrible loser and an even worse winner. His genius in and out of the ring was blazing hot and unmatched in the world of sports, but when he was fighting, Muhammad Ali was no sportsman. He was a brilliant athlete and boxer, salesman, Muslim, comedian and human being but he was not the Ambassador of Sportsmanship.

Still, despite his showboating and poor manners, I do love Ali. I have loved hims since I was eight or nine years old.

Last night, while staring at the box of Wheaties and Ali’s pretty face I realized I’ve never written about the  extraordinary day I met Muhammad Ali. My poor kids have heard the story, over and over, because that’s what McDaniels do…tell stores. But I need to write it down so it’s in the books.

When I was a skinny eight or nine year old, my brother, Granger, my mom and I flew to Boston to watch my other brother, Jack, graduate from prep school.

Granger was a gorgeous, golden haired, 19 year old and he had a full leg cast because he constantly totalled my parents cars. He was on crutches and grumpy all the time.

My mom left Granger and me at the airport terminal with the luggage while she returned the rental car. It was Spring time. Back then, in the late 60’s, little girls  got very dressed up to fly in an airplane. That day, I wore a a baby blue dress, white tights and white dress shoes. I was miserable and to make things worse I had to drag the luggage as I tried to keep up with Granger on crutches.

Suddenly Granger stopped and said, “Do you know who that is? Look down there.”

I didn’t know or care. But Granger was really excited.  “Good God, Pooh Bear, that’s Cassius Clay,” then he corrected himself. “Muhammad Ali!.” He looked at me. “The heavy weight champion of the world. Come on!” He he took off like a Thoroughbred on his crutches, galloping  across  the enormous Logan Airport and I started dragging the suitcases, trying to keep up. I stopped once and tried to figure out who he was chasing but all I could see was a great big group of dressed up black people. I readjusted my grip and trudged on.

By the time I reached the group, Granger had already introduced himself.  I stood behind him in awe of the group.  I had never, in my life seen so many gigantic black people, all dressed up. Ali was surrounded by several body guards in dark suits and they all towered in front of me like Red Woods.  And their was a lady in the group. I was transfixed because I had never seen a gorgeous and fancy black lady. She seemed to shimmer in front of me, like a goddess and I was speechless until the largest of all the men stepped in front of me and said, “And who are you?”

I dropped the bags. “Diana Ross McDaniel, we’re from Hot Springs, Arkansas.” I extended my hand as I’d been trained to do. That’s when it happened.  His hand was the size of a catchers mitt and it swallowed my hand then part of my arm. I didn’t know if my hand would ever return.

“Nice to meet you Diana Ross McDaniel, I’m Muhammad Ali.” First he made his eyes get big and round then he winked at me. I had no idea who he was but I was entranced.  “Why is such a little girl  carrying all those bags?”

I started to say something about Granger and his crutches but Ali stopped me. He nodded at one of the other men then told him to take the luggage for me. At that moment I didn’t know who Ali was but I loved him cause he made those men take the damn bags off my hands. My fingers still ached.

Quickly, he scribbled his name on Granger’s cast then said, “Kids, I’ve got to go before the press finds me but you take care of your little sister, Granger.”

Then he was gone, they were all gone and we were left in his vacuum.

Before that day I had no idea what a “heavy weight champion of the world” was but I figured it out pretty quickly. That massive man made my day so much easier so he was the champion of the world.

For years after that day, I was the little white girl who defended Ali against all critics. From Vietnam to Rope-A-Dope, Ali, the “heavy wight champion of the world,” could do no wrong in my eyes. When Daddy and I listened to Howard Cosell and watched his epic battles live on Friday nights, I would tell anyone who would listen about my friend, “Muhammad Ali”.

And I still defend him today, though his  philanthropy and humanitariandedication have made him unmatched in the world of sports.  He doesn’t  need my defense. But I will always think of Muhammad Ali as my friend…was he an Ambassador of Sportsmanship? Well….I’ll reconsider that in a few years.

*****Please tell me what you think.  I’m spilling my soul here. Comment or write to hampoalnd@gmail.com

 

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Little Girls on YouTube….Hey Dad I’m Talking To You

I’m writing this knowing I won’t change the world, but maybe I can change one life for one day. That’s enough.

There was a story on CNN today about tween girls asking folks on YouTube if they are pretty or ugly. Most of the little girls say things like, “everyone tells me I’m ugly ….”

Of course lots of the repulsive people responding say absurd and cruel things to the girls, one child has gotten over four million comments.

So today, if you happen to have or run into a little girl, a tween or teenager, for the love of God, look at that child and tell her she’s beautiful. She might actually hear what you are saying.

And for you daddys out there. You absolutely have the most important voice.  Your praise is what every girl really really wants.  You are the first and most important man in her life and as long as you think she’s beautiful and tell her, the rest of the world won’t matter so much.

This weekend a very good friend of Lexie’s was getting ready for her first date. She’s 15 and it’s a great  big deal because he’s a boy with a truck, a job and pretty blue eyes. Annie lives with her daddy who is a very very  protective cowboy daddy. I’m talking massive belt buckle and hat/ fully armed daddy. Annie has lots  of friends and is so pretty. As we drove back from a taekwondo tournament, Lexie and I listened as Annie talked to “the boy” for nearly thirty minutes. Over and over Annie mentioned or referenced her father. “My dad plays guitar too, but just acoustic.” or “My dad loves country music so you might not want to wear the Nine Inch Nails tee-shirt when you pick me up.” and “My dad and I ate Mexican food last week, I ate way too much cheese dip.”

Annie talked about her dad becasue he is, without question, the most important person in her life. Yeah, they fight and bicker and complain about each other aaaaalllll the time but her dad is her Number One Man.

So, Daddy’s out there…never every underestimate how important you are in your girl’s life. Tell her she’s beautiful ALL THE TIME then maybe she won’t end up one of those desperate and sad little things on YOUTUBE, staring at the camera and asking strangers if she’s pretty.

 

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Yoga vs Taekwondo…and new workout attempts

In order to improve my martial arts and postpone middle age/old age I’ve been trying new work outs. Every week I run, lift weights and do taekwondo two or three nights a week. But I  need more just to keep up with all the teenagers in the adult class because they have stupid teenaged boy muscles.

A few weeks ago I tried Zumba because the ads on tv look like so much sweaty fun.  Old ladies tried to help me with my tense/rhythm-free dancing skills. Thirteen years of martial arts have trained me to keep my hands up, fists next to my face, no matter what. So I looked really paranoid and stiff as a celery stalk. But I would not get sucker punched in zumba class.

Today I tried yoga at the YMCA.  It was a lovely class but not at all what I expected.  The one thing I can do better than most of my taekwondo teenagers is stretch. So most of the yoga poses and moves were just fine. 

Unfortunately I’m ridiculously hyper-competitive.  Even though it was my first day, when I spotted a 70 year old woman out stretching  me…it was on. I gritted my teeth and beat her. Stupid right? Because yoga isn’t a competitive sport, it’s supposed to be about peace, enlightenment and finding balance in your body….stuff like that.

During  class the lights were dim and there was pretty music so I tried relax and ground myself.  I worked to feel my own breath, lengthen my limbs and allow my muscles to relax. But I kept thinking, “my downward dog looks pretty awesome and so do my calf muscles,” or “my high cobra is soooo much higher than hers, but I need to work on my tree stance, it sucks, everyone has a better tree.”

Obviously, this was not an advanced yoga class and you have to trust me, I’m laughing at myself, because I know I missed the entire point because I’m an immature doof. Maybe yoga is exactly what I need in my life.

The class ended and I wasn’t sweaty or sore, I was pretty happy though. Then, the instructor, who was wonderful, came to each of our mats. We were stretched out on our backs, breathing and feeling centered. And she rubbed my neck and ears with some great menthol smelly stuff.  She rubbed my ears! Nobody in Taekwondo every rubs my ears!  I really love yoga now!

 

Comment or write to me please, hampoland@gmail.com

 

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We Have The Most Dangerous House In America

 I didn’t realize I had such a dangerous house until Alex tried to get new homeowners insurance and told the insurance lady the truth. Her gasp was audible and she told us we would have to find another agency.

We don’t cook meth, drive drunk or scuba dive in caves, but I guess, by insurance standards we might seem a little high risk.

We have a great big trampoline in our yard and it doesn’t have one of those safety nets. We jump in the raw, in the rain, in the dark. I let more than one little kid jump at the same time and (don’t hate me) I let Sandor and his buddies jump off the play house onto the trampoline. It’s crazy to watch. I write this freely because all the parents are aware of what the little boys are doing and they just laugh, or better still, they take pictures.

We have a great big dog, named Theo and he will bite strange men who come on our property.  He’s nailed two strangers to date because they did not belong on our land. He’s done his job.  But the insurance lady thought Theo’s behaviour was horrible and we should make him wear a  muzzle,  keep him in a pen or put him down.  Well, how the hell is he going to protect us if he’s wearing a Hannibal Lector face mask?

Sandor and Lex have a little four wheeler, it’s only a 50, so it doesn’t really go too fast. But they whip around our five acres as though running 100 miles an hour. Ok, here’s where it gets really dangerous, sometiems, I let two kids ride the four wheeler at the same time.  I know there’s a picture and a big warning notice. It says one rider at a time. But when they are together, I can hear their laughter ringing through the woods surrounding our home.

We have BB guns and now that Sandor is nine I let him stomp through the woods with his friends shooting at any bears or Big Foots they happen to come across.  I give them a lecture on gun safety.  I tell them about my old friend ‘”one eyed Bob” who had his right  eye shot out with a BB Gun and I yell at them when they do things I deem dangerous. But I do let them shoot bb guns unsupervised. Crazy right?  But so far they have listened to all my rules and warnings and they have never pointed guns at each other. And more importantly, they’ve never turned on us.

And finally, I let Lex, who is 15, ride in cars with some of her friends.  Even some of her guy friends.  I have a pretty good idea who the good drivers are and who’s terrible.  I know who practiced for years with their folks and who got keys from their parents with very little experience.(sometimes parents don’t want to drive with their kids because fights erupt, but driving takes practice and we need to bite our tongue and spend hundreds of hours driving with our children)  I know which kids I trust and who the show offs are. And I have faith in my daughter’s judgement.

I guess it’s true, we live dangerously by some standards. And boy do we have fun.

#Think it’s too dangerous?  Let me know comment or write me hampoland@gmail.com

 

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The Dangerous Of A Windy Day…Be Careful!

There are 25 mile an hour gusts outside right now. That’s almost half a hurricane. So be careful, there are some things you really need to avoid on a crazy windy day.

#1 A drink or coffee with a mountain of whipped cream on top. You might think the cherry will weigh that fluffy white delicious stuff down but you are wrong. My whipped cream ended up all over my car window. Driving into town, I realized it looked as though a pterodactyl pooped on my car.

#2 Don’t bother brushing your hair, instead go for the messed up mug shot crazy woman look. I spent 10 minutes brushing and rolling and blow drying. By the time I made it to the front door all of my hair was in front of my face Ala Cousin It. When I got inside I tried to smooth things down and look semi-hot but I failed. I look better after two hours of kickboxing.

#3. Do not let a plice officer make you take the sobriety test which involves standing on one foot on a windy day, especially if you are fat or skinny. If you are girthy your belly will act like a sail, if you are skinny you’ll just get blown into traffic. Standing on one foot whenthere is a wind advisory is nearly impossible. You will fail, go to jail, have a horrible crazy woman mug shot and it will end up on facebook for your children to see. So, do not stand on one foot.  You’d be better off trying to say your alphabet backwards.

#4 If a piece of paper blows out of your hand DO NOT CHASE IT.  You will never catch it on a really windy day. Instead you’ll look like a chicken in the Wal-Mart parking lot running, stopping, reaching, missing, turning, stumbling. It’s ugly. Just let that shopping list go.

#5 And finally, you know this without it being said. do not wear a dress or skit during a semi-tornado kind of day. Yes Marilyn Monroe looked hot when her white dress billowed up but it’s not the same if you are wearing panty hose or granny panties.

The wind is picking up out there, unless you are a middle aged bald man in a suit, maybe you should just stay home today.

 

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Humans vs Horses and I. Granger McDaniel

Recently, I read a pretty extraordinary paragraph about the human heart and soul. (Don’t make that face, it was gross or gooey. It’s cool stuff.)

In 1954 Robert Bannister was the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes. Before that time experts and sports writers thought it was impossible. Bannister was a good runner but suffered some sizable defeats in his career. After his failure at the 1952 Olympics, Bannister spent two months deciding whether to give up running. Instead he set a new goal: to be the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. 

And he did it… because his heart and mind were determined and focused. So his body followed.

Now old people sometimes break the four minute mile because they believe in their hearts in can be done.

Some folks want to say man kind has gotten faster because of advanced training and nutrition.  But take a look at racehorses.  Their training, nutrition and even breeding have improved DRAMATICALLY. Saddles are lighter, jockey and trainers are smarter but horses haven’t really gotten much faster.

Racehorses, unlike human beings have improved a little but not really that much.  In 1915 regret won the Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:05, and the winners in 2010 and 12 were both 2:04.  One notably exception. in 1979 Secretariat ran the derby in 1:59.  In more than thirty years.  

Why are humans getting stronger and faster but horses are not? It’s all in our head and our heart.

My daddy, I. Granger, McDaniel always told me, “when you imagination excepts it as reality, it will become the truth.”

When I was a little girl I didn’t understand.

When I was in high school I rolled my eyes.

When I was in college I thought his idea  was bull shit. (most college students are such know-it-all-doubters)

But now I understand and I believe. I know he was right. 

When we  invest our heart and soul completely and we are willing to do the hard work (that’s were most of us fail cause sometimes hard work sucks),  we can do anything, because we are human and we have the heart for it.

*Comment or e-mail. I love that.  hampoland@gmail.com

 

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The Horrible Teen-age Life and Taekwondo

I love my Taekwondo family for 4372 reasons, but I have four specifics in mind right now.

First, school life, specifically high school life, can be brutal. Kids live in a fish bowl with 642 other gold fish. Disagreements erupt, students say horrible things, do really mean stuff and it’s impossible to really get away. You they are in a damn glass bowl! All they can do is swim to the other side and stare through the glass.

As an adult, it’s easy  to tell our kids to “get over” things that happen in school but their environment is so different from ours. It’s hard to ignore or avoid conflict and bad behaviour when you are literally forced to stay in the same building, maybe the same room, all week long. When somebody ticks me off or is rude at work, I close my office door, I can walk away. Hell, I can get in my car and drive away. High school kids can’t do escape the morons and idiots.

Our taekwondo family gives my kids an alternate fish bowl. The snarky BS girls  say at lunch  doesn’t exsist when you get to class. Nobody knows them or cares what they say. They don’t matter because they don’t work out and they are not part of our family. Our taekwondo school, like any other extra curricular activity, is a respite and gives kids a break from the battle.

Reason number two: You learn getting hurt probably won’t kill you..  Rather than sitting around playing video games after school my kids have figured out they can get punched or kicked and keep on going. Yeah, it hurts but it’s not really that big a deal.  So many kids are really really afraid to start sparing because they don’t want to get hurt, then they learn…..it’s ok. And we are all a little stronger than we think.

And finally there are tournaments.  There are winners and losers and my kids, even after all these years, are still learning  how to be gracious at both.  This weekend Sandor got a 1st and a 3rd.  Look at this face. Does he look like a good loser or winner?  Hell no! So we had  talk, he could be a happy winner or a sad loser, it was his decision. After thirty minutes and a pep talk from a much older and cooler boy, he was a super happy kid.

Unlike most sports, when you are part of the martial arts world you get to see your coaches and instructors do amazing things. They may be 30, 40 or 50 even 60, but instructors and adult students are still doing awe inspiring stuff. They are, still punching and kicking, still jumping like kitty cats, still working to improve, rather than getting fat on the sidelines. Grown men and women in the martial arts act just like 14 year old boys. How cool is that?

Maybe your alternate universe/family is basketball, or art, or dance. It doesn’t matter. As long as your family and especially your kids know  school is important but it isn’t real life. It’s a fish bowl  full of good and bad fish. And sometimes you just need to swim away

Write to me or leave a comment.  I need to hear what you thjink!  hampoland@gmail.com  Thanks!

 

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