Kim Hudson: Are we putting kids on pedestals?

Last week I wrote about what I call the epidemic of blatant disrespect in our society today. I was so relieved to hear from many of you that you feel the same way. I’d like to state for the record that I am in no way an expert or a perfect parent. My children are […]

Kim Hudson: How can we get respect restored?

Recently a high school football game in Texas made national news. It appears two players tackled a referee for no apparent reason. The incident was caught on tape and the players have been suspended from school as the investigation continues. Allegations and speculation are circulating but the fact remains that two high school students caused […]

Kim Hudson: Learning great lessons from a great dad

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and write about some amazing people. This week is no exception. He won’t want me to write about him – but children don’t always listen to what their parents want, even when they are adults themselves.

This month someone very special in my life celebrates a birthday. A pretty significant birthday I might add.

My father, Ernie Watson, is turning 80. Those who know him won’t believe he is that old. He doesn’t look it and certainly doesn’t act it either.

Kim Hudson: Your driving habits get transfered to your kids

There is nothing that will make you more aware of your own driving than a teenager who has just completed driver’s education classes. All these years of driving a seemingly oblivious child to and fro have suddenly been replaced with a rule book roadster who doesn’t hesitate to point out even the slightest infraction of the law.

Which can be both good and bad, right? It’s good to be conscious of my own driving habits.

Of course I want to be a positive role model and set a good example. On the other hand, almost 30 years of driving (that makes me feel old) lends itself to the reality that some not-so-good habits have been formed. And having said teenager point them out does not always make for a happy mother. We haven’t even started the actual driving part and I’m feeling stressed.

What I find happening is I am now super aware of all the – how do I say this nicely – creative ways others are driving. And the realization that my teenager will soon be driving on the same roads as these crazy, I mean creative, drivers is enough to make me want to keep Kim’s Cab open for business forever.

Seriously though, there is a higher level of awareness once your child is getting ready to get their license.

It’s too late now for me to change my habits; he’s been in the car with me for 15 years and has witnessed both the good and bad. But I can become more vigilant in my conversation with both my children about the dangers of driving and what they need to be aware of.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt for me to brush up on my knowledge of the rules of the road either. Take for instance the pedestrian crosswalks. I think it’s obvious that pedestrians have the right of way at an intersection with a stoplight.

But it isn’t so clear when the crosswalk is not in an intersection, like the ones near the hospital on Carroll Street.

There’s so much for a new driver to take in. I know for certain that we can all use the reminder that cell phones are a distraction while driving. And remember that your kiddos are watching your habits in the car. Checking a quick text message while you come to a stop at the light? Yeah, they saw you.

So maybe just a little food for thought is necessary as we think about driving. Every day a new driver gets behind the wheel of a car. That new driver could be your child, relative, neighbor, or friend.

According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, every 14 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs, and every five seconds a crash occurs.

Maybe we could remember to slow down, drive safe, put away our phones and be the kind of driver you want your teenager to be.

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

Kim Hudson: Getting your kids ready for school’s return

I’ve just recently finished a little “back to school” shopping with my daughter. She’s starting middle school so we bought a new backpack, lunch box and tennis shoes.

Even though we are not yet ready for summer to end at my house, I’ve always found that school shopping helps get the kids a little excited about the upcoming school year. The dread starts to melt away as new things inspire new beginnings.

It goes without saying, though, that transitions are hard — whether you are 5 years old and entering kindergarten or 18 years old and starting college. And while the transition may be hard on the child, it is usually the parent(s) who struggle the most.

So regardless of whether you are in denial that school is starting soon or you’ve got it down to the day, hour and minute of when the bus will arrive to whisk your child away, here are a few helpful hints to think about in the coming weeks.

Everything you read tells you to get into a routine at least a week before school starts. Kids should start going to bed earlier to prepare them for the early school morning. This never works in my house. I don’t even try anymore.

After spending the summer staying up late, my kids can’t fall asleep early. What I’ve found is the natural rhythm of early rising, coupled with a full day of school, tires out even the most stubborn late nighter.

What really works, in my house at least, is a cut-off time for electronics. I tell my kids they can stay up but the television and any other electronic device (phone, iPod, etc) must be off. Arguing over what time to go to bed is never a good way to end the day. Taking away the distractions leaves most kids with little left to do.

Reading is always an option at my house but I know some kids would stay up all hours of the night to finish a great book so even books have a cut off time.

One thing that can help prevent late-night stress is getting homework done as early as possible. When my kids were in elementary school it was the rule that homework had to be finished before doing anything else. That gets harder as they get older and more involved in sports or after school activities. But if you set the foundation for completing homework first at an early age, they learn the importance of getting it done and it makes it easier down the road.

As you are attending Back to School nights and orientations, look for a parent or two that has a child in the same grade or a grade older than your child that you can connect with. I found it especially helpful when my son entered middle school and then again in high school. It’s very useful to have another parent that you can call when you have a question or just need to understand something better.

And if you have a quiet child, one that doesn’t share much information, invite his or her friends over and carpool whenever you can. Kids talk and share when they are together which gives you a chance to learn more about what’s going on in your child’s life.

As you enjoy the last weeks of summer, remember kids are resilient. You may be worried about them starting middle or high school, kindergarten or college, but most likely they are nervous yet excited. It’s a great time in their lives and if they know you are excited for them, it makes the transition so much easier.

Q&A: Tom Brown gave ‘every child a chance to play’

On a beautiful, hot July morning I walked across a parking lot to get a cup of coffee and meet one of our local legends, Coach Tom Brown.

It was my first time meeting him, but I’ve been a fan for a very long time.

And not because of his professional sports accolades either – which are impressive – but for his unwavering approach to youth sports and sportsmanship as a whole.

He’ll turn 75 in December, and Brown has announced his retirement from coaching at the Tom Brown Rookie League, something he has overseen for more than 30 years.

As a professional player for both Major League Baseball and the National Football League, Coach Brown certainly made a name for himself athletically. He played in the first two Super Bowls as a defensive back for the Green Bay Packers, from 1964-68, and for the Washington Redskins during the 1969 season.

He’s beloved among Packers’ faithful for his end zone interception of a pass thrown by Cowboys’ great Don Meredith, preserving the Packers’ 34-27 victory in the 1966 NFL title game.

Brown played outfield and first base for the Washington Senators of Major League Baseball in 1963. A switch hitter who threw left-handed, Brown played in 61 games for the Senators.

His commitment to this community through his youth sports program has touched so many lives and yet he remains one of the most humble individuals I’ve ever met.

As I approached our meeting place, I noticed Coach Brown was already there (I was 10 minutes early) and he was engaged in a conversation with someone. It was obvious that she too was a fan.

After I introduced myself we walked inside and three more people (moms of former Rookie League players) came over to say hello.

Q. This must happen to you all the time. People coming up to you to say hello or thank you?

A. (Smiling) I don’t go out much.

Q. You are somewhat of a legend around here. How does that feel?

A. I am satisfied with my life.

Q. I am a big fan of what you do for kids and their parents through the Rookie League. How did you get started here?

A. I learned so much from the great Coach Vince Lombardi. He would tell us, his football players, over and over again that we couldn’t play football forever. He told us we had to “find your niche.”

I didn’t know what niche meant so I had to look it up in the dictionary.

He stressed the importance of finding something (other than football) that you love. And that’s what I did.

I moved to the area and started as the (town) Recreation Director in Ocean City. But I had an idea to bring a summer sports camp to the area. So I quit my job and was ready to get started only to realize I didn’t have the support to make that happen.

I was thinking uh-oh, maybe I shouldn’t have done that.

In 1981, I started with the Salvation Army under Benny Riddick. I worked with kids using a pitching machine. I loved it. I wanted to work with the young kids, the ones that got bored standing in the outfield.

The Rookie League never felt like I had a job. I love what I do. Watching kids start off so shy and unsure of their abilities. To see them grow, in their confidence and ability, is great.

Q. Having come from such an accomplished athletic background, how did you have the patience for working with kids of all abilities?

A. I was one of three boys raised by our mother and father. My older brother went to the Naval Academy and later became a trainer.

My other brother was mentally disabled and it was our job, as brothers, to look out for him. I think I learned compassion from those years of helping to take care of my brother.

Q. Obviously you had strong athletic ability at an early age. Did your parents push you toward a certain sport?

A. Kim, I don’t think parents pushed back then. My father worked for the Red Cross. He was the Director of Water Safety.

Both my brother and I tried swimming but we hated it. My mother was an accomplished basketball player.

My father would come out and watch me play and never say a word. He was encouraging but never criticized.

My mother was a realist. She always pointed out to me the chances of one kid making it to the pros. With chances like 1 in 30,000 or 50,000, you realize quickly not many get that opportunity.

Q. The Tom Brown Rookie League is known for its emphasis on sportsmanship for players and parents. I’ve heard stories of parents being reprimanded for “coaching” their children. Where does that come from?

A. It comes from going to youth games with my own son and realizing how important it is that every child gets a chance to play. Sports at that age should be fun.

I used to play baseball every day after school and in the summer. Every day. Not because someone told me to but because I wanted to. I couldn’t wait to play.

We played pick-up ball – which you don’t find anymore – and the kids made the teams and settled the calls. When I started coaching, I wanted every player to have that experience of getting to bat and playing all the positions. So we rotated positions. Every player got a chance. The kids really responded to that.

Q. And the parents?

A. Most thought it was good. There were some who wanted to coach their kids or be critical. But that doesn’t help them become better players.

The kids need to think for themselves. They have to make a decision whether or not to run to second or where to throw the ball. When they are young, it takes time to make that decision. And sometimes they make the wrong one.

But that’s how they learn. I used to tell the kids that if mom or dad criticizes your play on the way home, you let me know. Not many did of course, but I wanted them to know that someone (me) was in their corner.

Which reminds me of a great story …

I would tell the kids that when they weren’t sure of what to do next they needed to stop and find the ball so they could make a decision.

I had a dad tell me that he was asking his son on the way home after a game, why he didn’t run to second. And his son turned to him and said, “Coach says it’s my decision.”

We put that line on our T-shirts this year – ‘It’s My Decision.’ It’s really what we are trying to teach them.

Q. Why do you think things are so different now – with kids and youth sports?

A. I think parents can be very unrealistic about their child’s abilities. That puts a lot of pressure on kids.

And when you play on tournament teams and travel teams, by the time kids get to high school they are sometimes done. I think safety has something to do with it. Parents just don’t let their kids out by themselves, so you don’t have neighborhood pick-up games.

Television and electronics, too, keep kids home and inside.

Today, if a kid doesn’t think they are good enough at a sport, they don’t even want to try.

Q. How were you able to be realistic about your own children’s abilities?

A. The focus was never on athletics. Academics needed to come first.

Both my children were good athletes but I’ve always been realistic. I didn’t push them. I’m so proud of who they’ve become.

(Daughter) Jessie is a special education teacher here in Wicomico County and Jimmy teaches public speaking – which I think every student should have to take. They are both coaches. They are just really good people.

Jessie is going to continue coaching basketball at the Rookie League – she was a really good basketball player.

Q. One of the things you’ve done through the Rookie League is to give scholarships. Can you tell me about that?

A. If parents can’t pay for their child to participate in the Rookie League they receive a scholarship. We didn’t make a big deal of it.

We didn’t tell anyone or ask anyone for money or donations. We just wanted kids to be able to play.

I don’t think anyone has taken advantage of me – but if they did it was worth it seeing those kids with a uniform, having fun playing.

Q. What are some words of advice you might give to parents or players today?

A. What I learned from the great Coach Vince Lombardi still holds true today: Give 100 percent effort all of the time.

What you do during practice should be the exact same of what you do during a game. And that goes for everything in life.

I always practice “Lombardi time” – 15 minutes early is on time. It’s been a great rule to live by.

Q. What does retirement look like for you?

A. I’m satisfied. I’m not hard to please. I go to the gym. I do a lot of grass cutting.

I watch baseball. I’ve collected a lot of sports memorabilia over the years and I want to go to more sports shows.

This is a great town to live in. It’s close to D.C. and close to the beach. It’s the best of both worlds.

I’m not perfect but I’m satisfied with my life.

The Tom Brown Appreciation Night will be held Saturday, Aug. 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. in The Commons at Salisbury University. Tickets are available at: tombrownsrookieleague.org/Event.aspx.

Kim Hudson: Take 20 seconds and be courageous

“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it.” This is a quote from the memoir of Benjamin Mee which was made into the movie We Bought a Zoo in 2011.

You might recall the movie. It’s loosely based on the 2008 memoir of Benjamin Mee who was searching for a new beginning with his children after the death of his wife. He ends up buying a new home which, surprising for him, included a zoo.

Although the movie received mixed reviews I enjoyed it. It dealt with some raw emotions of grief, relationships and family dynamics. But my favorite part was the quote I mentioned above. Benjamin Mee was having a conversation with his son at the time. Dylan, who was 14, was lamenting about a girl he liked and struggling with knowing the right thing to do. His advice to his son was pitch perfect.

Sometimes all we need is a little push to overcome our fear or step out of our comfort zone. Sometimes all we need is to focus on the next 20 seconds – you can do anything for 20 seconds.

When I look around at people I admire I realize I admire them not because of their lack of fear, but because of the courage they show in the midst of their fear. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. It takes strength to be different from everyone else. It takes bravery to make that phone call or write that letter or make a decision that will change the course of your day.

And every time you take those 20 seconds and do something courageous, something great does come of it. It might not be exactly what you expected it to be. But it will be great. It might possibly be great only because you were brave enough to do something, anything! But it might possibly be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life.

So many ideas are never shared, books never written, calls never made – all because someone lacked the courage to do so. What might happen if you – right here, right now – took those 20 seconds and did something insanely courageous?

I know I’m an optimist. I just can’t help myself. And I can’t help but think our world would greatly benefit from everyone’s 20 seconds of courage.

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

Kim Hudson: Some summer reading suggestions

Do you have your summer reading list ready? I have to admit I really enjoy the slower pace of summer so I can catch up on my reading. Although I have read some really good books lately, there are two I’d like to share that have become my favorites.

If you are looking for a great book for your kids I highly recommend “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. It’s not a new release, it was published in 2012, but it did make the New York Times Best Sellers List and, in case you haven’t read it, it is definitely worth adding to your list.

“Wonder” is a story about August Pullman, a fifth-grade student with facial deformities who has to navigate entering public school for the first time. I read this book with my daughter when she was in fourth grade. It is a great story covering many topics such as bullying, peer pressure, friendships and tolerance. We loved the characters and how each chapter is written from a different point of view. August’s experiences help pave the way to explore some difficult topics and open the doors for meaningful conversation with your kids. Now more than ever we need to be talking to our children about differences and tolerance.

My new favorite book is one I learned about on my trip to Haiti. It’s a wonderful little book called “Love Does” by Bob Goff. I will warn you that Bob talks about God as he shares stories from his life. This book has made me look at love differently. I always thought of love as an emotion but now I see it is much more than that. Love is an action, a verb. It is what we do and how we show the people around us what they mean to us.

There are twenty-two chapters or stories in “Love Does” and each one gives you a glimpse into the life of someone who truly lives a full life and a life full of love. Each story teaches a lesson on the power of love and what can happen when we fully embrace it. It’s an easy read and I promise it will make you laugh – at least once. It’s one of those books that I haven’t stopped talking about since I finished it.

I love a book that makes me think about something in a brand new way, don’t you? While my beach reading may not be as relaxing this year (I’ll be scanning the water for fins) I have my list ready. If only I could get my children to love reading as much as I do.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

Kim Hudson: Taking some time to explore our Downtown

I spent the best day with my daughter last week. She’s 11 and headed to middle school next year so when she made a list of 22 things for she and I to do together this summer, I made up my mind to try and accomplish as many as possible.

We drive past Downtown Salisbury almost every day on our way to and from home. For about a year now my daughter has asked if we could spend a day walking around and exploring downtown. We’ve been to 3rd Friday but she wanted to be able to spend the day there. So, we picked a day and that’s exactly what we did.

On our daily travels we pass Patsy’s Bridal store and we always enjoy looking at the dresses in the windows but Kennedy wanted to go inside and see the whole store. It was so much fun to look at the wedding dresses and to see her reaction to some of the prom and special occasion gowns. I don’t love to shop but browsing just for the fun of it was very enjoyable.

Our Downtown Plaza really is beautiful and when you take the time to see it from the eyes of a little girl (who really isn’t so little anymore) it can be downright breathtaking and whimsical. Who couldn’t use a little more whimsy in their life?

We had coffee at Main Roots, lunch at Mayabella’s – which, by the way, has awesome hand-dipped ice cream in addition to my favorite pizza. Our food journey would not be complete without a cupcake from Cake Art. It’s such a perfect place to be as girlie as you want to be. We stopped in Angello’s Unique Gifts, window shopped at Kuhn’s Jewelers and visited the businesses in the City Center. We threw pennies in the fountain and made wishes. We even got a rooftop view of downtown (shhh, don’t tell anyone).

We looked at the buildings and talked about what goes on inside them. We made our way down Main Street and headed to the Aviary to visit with the birds.

Have you been there yet? I’m not really a bird person but this place is incredible. It’s the Feathered Companion Aviary where they sell hand raised birds and supplies. Literally there are birds everywhere; in cages, on the ground, on perches, on your shoulder if you want them to be. It’s a little loud but somehow soothing at the same time. The birds are beautiful and Kennedy and I couldn’t get enough. It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

A quick trip to the library ended our day and we left Downtown full, happy and content. It is great being able to take some time to leisurely enjoy all our area has to offer. There doesn’t have to be anything going on – you can find beauty and whimsy and fun anywhere.

All it takes is a little time and a little imagination. Where will you explore this summer?

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

Kim Hudson: Red, White and BOOM demonstrates collaboration

The word is out. I know it’s only May but it is not too early to share the news that the Fourth of July Fireworks are back again for Salisbury. Thanks to Mike Dunn, we will have an awesome fireworks display in a new location this year. Red White and BOOM started three years ago […]