Hello and welcome to Day 15 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow for another installment!
Finding a Strange Animals post in my Twitter feed is like finding a toasted marshmallow Jelly Belly in a sea of juicy pear.
Because ... listen, there's a lot of crap in the world right now and things can seem really bad. Really bleak.
When I was a kid and I felt this way, I'd often retreat into fantasy stories. I'd read about Harry and Buckbeak the hippogriff, or Sam Vimes and the swamp dragons, or Dinotopia's dinosaurs. I still do that, leaning into fantasy worlds when the real world's just a little too much.
But when you get to see real fantastic beasts, well, that's kind of like someone taking you aside and saying, "Hey, I know things are tough right now. But don't forget, there's still amazing things out there."
I mean just check out some of these critters.
Strange Animals puts a little fantasy back in your day and you can't help but love it for that.
Dad on TikTok shared how he addressed his son's bullying.
What do you do when you find out your kid bullied someone? For many parents, the first step is forcing an apology. While this response is of course warranted, is it really effective? Some might argue that there are more constructive ways of handling the situation that teach a kid not only what they did wrong, but how to make things right again.
Single dadPatrick Forseth recently shared how he made a truly teachable moment out of his son, Lincoln, getting into trouble for bullying. Rather than forcing an apology, Forseth made sure his son was actively part of a solution.
The thought process behind his decision, which he explained in a now-viral TikTok video, is both simple and somewhat racial compared to how many parents have been encouraged to handle similar situations.
“I got an email a few days ago from my 9-year-old son's teacher that he had done a ‘prank’ to a fellow classmate and it ended up embarrassing the classmate and hurt his feelings,” the video begins.
At this point, Forseth doesn’t split hairs. “I don't care who you are, that's bullying,” he said. “If you do something to somebody that you know has the potential end result of them being embarrassed in front of a class or hurt—you’re bullying.”
So, Forseth and Lincoln sat down for a long talk (a talk, not a lecture) about appropriate punishment and how it would have felt to be on the receiving end of such a prank.
From there, Forseth told his son that he would decide how to make things right, making it a masterclass in taking true accountability.
“I demanded nothing out of him. I demanded no apology, I demanded no apology to the teacher,” he continued, adding, “I told him that we have the opportunity to go back and make things right. We can't take things back, but we can try to correct things and look for forgiveness.”
So what did Lincoln do? He went back to his school and actually talked to the other boy he pranked. After learning that they shared a love of Pokémon, he then went home to retrieve two of his favorite Pokémon cards as a peace offering, complete with a freshly cleaned case.
Lincoln would end up sharing with his dad that the other boy was so moved by the gesture that he would end up hugging him.
“I just want to encourage all parents to talk to your kids,” Forseth concluded. “Let's try to avoid just the swat on the butt [and] send them to their room. Doesn't teach them anything.”
In Forseth’s opinion, kids get far more insight by figuring out how to resolve a problem themselves. “That's what they're actually going to face in the real world once they move out of our nests.”
He certainly has a point. A slap on the wrist followed by being marched down somewhere to say, “I’m sorry,” only further humiliates kids most of the time. With this gentler approach, kids are taught the intrinsic value of making amends after wrongdoing, not to mention the power of their own autonomy. Imagine that—blips in judgment can end up being major character-building moments.
Kudos to this dad and his very smart parenting strategy.
When you are a child who has been abused by people who are supposed to protect you, how do you feel safe?
That question is the heart of Bikers Against Child Abuse International (B.A.C.A.), an organization dedicated to creating "a safer environment for abused children." With specific training and extensive security checks, the frequently big and burly members of B.A.C.A. serve as protectors of chid abuse survivors, giving vulnerable children people to call on when they feel scared, and even showing up in court when a child asks them to.
In short, they become an abused child's "biker family," and they let the child—and everyone else—know that no one messes with their family.
As the B.A.C.A. mission statement says:
"We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle."
B.A.C.A. members do whatever they can to make abused kids feel safe, which is huge for children who have been hurt, especially by the adults who are supposed to love and protect them.
First, they set up an initial ride to welcome a child into the biker family. Kids are offered a vest and a patch, which they have the option of accepting or not—there's never pressure put on a child. They take a photograph with the child, which the child keeps to remind them that they have family to call on whenever they feel afraid. They serve as escorts when kids feel frightened to go somewhere. They show up at court hearings to help kids feel less intimidated. They come to kids' houses when called to help support the family or serve as a deterrent for further abuse.
Though B.A.C.A. absolutely does not physically confront perpetrators, simply their presence provides the message that a child has a band of protectors behind them. Watch these bikers in action:
2019 Bikers Against Child Abuse International informational video. Visit www.bacaworld.org or find us on Facebook - Bikers Against Child Abuse International
And check out the B.A.C.A creed to see how dedicated these folks are to this work:
"I am a Member of Bikers Against Child Abuse. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past has prepared me, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by the faith in my works, and lean on the strength of my brothers and sisters. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with power.
My fate is set, my gait is fast, my goal is the ultimate safety of children. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are tried and true, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and showed up for all wounded children. I must go until I drop, ride until I give out, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, for He will see my B.A.C.A. backpatch and know that I am one of His. I am a Member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, and this is my creed."
Florida principal fired after showing statue of "David."
If you ask most teachers why they went into education, they'll share that it had nothing to do with the money and everything to do with their passion for teaching. Even with rapid changes in curriculum and policies, teachers who remain in the classroom are lovers of education and are doing their best to help kids learn.
Hope Carrasquilla, the former principal of Florida's Tallahassee Classical School, was one of those teachers who simply enjoyed teaching. As the principal, Carrasquilla was required to teach two classes. During her sixth grade lesson about Renaissance art, which is also a requirement of the school, Carrasquilla showed a picture of Michelangelo's "David" statue.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, three parents complained about their children being shown the picture. Two of those parents were mostly upset that there wasn't sufficient notice given before the photo of the sculpture was shown. The third parent reportedly complained that the statue of the Biblical figure was pornographic.
Michelangelo's sculpture wasn't the only source of the complaint. It was essentially the entire lesson, which also included "The Creation of Adam," another Michelangelo piece, and Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus." These are classic works of art that are easily recognizable by just about any layman, even if they can't name the artist.
Carrasquilla admitted that there was a bit of a kerfuffle with notifying parents of the lesson, which is a new policy implemented just two months ago. The policy requires that parents receive written notification two weeks prior to teaching potentially controversial content, according to The Independent.
Shortly after her lesson, Carrasquilla was called into an emergency school board meeting where she was forced to choose between resignation or being fired. She chose to resign, leaving the school less than a year after starting her tenure there.
While three parents were upset over the lesson, others were blindsided by the termination of the school principal. Carrie Boyd, who has a third and a seventh-grader at the school, told the Tallahassee Democrat that the principal's abrupt resignation was shocking to her and other parents. Boyd also voiced concerns over the "non-secular" direction the school appeared to be taking.
Tallahassee Classical School is a private charter school that has only been open for three years and is affiliated with Hillsdale College, a private conservative college located in Michigan, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Barney Bishop, the school board chair, told HuffPost, "Parental rights trump everything else."
But it seems Carrasquilla is gaining support across the internet. Comments range from frustration to people comparing it to a "Simpson's" episode about censorship that remarkably also depicted the statue of "David."
"Heavens to Betsy, a body part depicted in one of the most famous pieces of art in all of history! What next?!?," David Weiss wrote.
The greatest confusion seemed to stem from classical artwork being considered controversial enough to require parental notification when the school markets itself as a "classical school" and Renaissance art is a requirement. Renaissance art isn't exactly known for its elaborate depiction of clothing; it's quite the opposite.
Surely, the ousted principal will find other employment, but for now, she and the rest of the internet are left feeling a bit flabbergasted by the seemingly drastic response to classical works of art.
When Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi both landed their high jumps at 2.37 meters, they were in the battle for Olympic gold. But when both jumpers missed the next mark—the Olympic record of 2.39 meters—three times each, they were officially tied for first place.
In such a tie, the athletes would usually do a "jump-off" to determine who wins gold and who wins silver. But as the official began to explain the options to Barshim and Tamberi, Barshim asked, "Can we have two golds?"
"It's possible," the official responded. "It depends, if you both decide..." And before he'd even told them how sharing the gold would work, the two jumpers looked at each other, nodded, and then launched into a wholesome and joyful celebration guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
(If you are unable to view the video above, check it out on NBC's YouTube channel here.)
The two jumpers have been competing against one another for more than a decade and are friends on and off the field, so getting to share the gold is a win-win—literally—for both of them. It's also a historic choice. According to the BBC, the last time competing track and field Olympians shared the gold medal podium was in 1912.
The friendship and camaraderie between the two athletes are palpable and their immediate decision to share the gold truly embodies the Olympic spirit.
"I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it," Barshim said, according to the CBC. "We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need."
"He is one of my best friends," he added, "not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message."
Barshim was the silver medalist in the event in the Rio 2016 Olympics, and Tamberi suffered a career-threatening injury prior to those games, which took him out of medal contention.
"After my injuries, I just wanted to come back," Tamberi told CNN. "But now I have this gold, it's incredible. I dreamed of this so many times. I was told in 2016 just before Rio, there was a risk I wouldn't be able to compete anymore. It's been a long journey."
What a beautiful display of sportsmanship, excellence, and genuine human connection. This is what the Olympics are all about. Love to see it.
These days, we could all use something to smile about, and few things do a better job at it than watching actor Christopher Walken dance.
A few years back, some genius at HuffPo Entertainment put together a clip featuring Walken dancing in 50 of his films, and it was taken down. But it re-emerged in 2014 and the world has been a better place for it.
Walken became famous as a serious actor after his breakout roles in "Annie Hall" (1977) and "The Deer Hunter" (1978) so people were pretty shocked in 1981 when he tap-danced in Steve Martin's "Pennies from Heaven."
But Walken actually started his career in entertainment as a dancer. He took his first dance lessons at the age of three. "It was very typical for people—and I mean working-class people—to send their kids to dancing school," he told Interview Magazine. "You'd learn ballet, tap, acrobatics, usually you'd even learn to sing a song," he later explained to Interview magazine.
As a child, he also studied tap dance and toured in musicals. He even danced with a young Liza Minelli. "I'd been around dancers my whole life, having watched my parents make musicals at MGM, and Chris reminded me of so many of the dancers I knew growing up," Minelli said according to Entertainment Weekly. "He's talented in every way."
Craig Zadan, Executive Producer of "Peter Pan Live!," agrees with Minelli. "I think that if he had been around in the heyday of MGM, he would have been a big star of musicals on film," he told Entertainment Weekly.
His dance moves were put center stage in 2001 in Spike Jonze's video for Fatboy Slim's song "Weapon of Choice." Walken says he did it because one day he'll be too old to cut a rug. "You think, 'Well, do it now!' You know, you get too decrepit to dance," he told Entertainment Weekly.
English metal detector hobbyist finds a real treasure near Nottingham.
A retired merchant navy engineer in England has found a treasure that would have made his country’s most popular folk hero proud. Graham Harrison, a 64-year-old metal detector enthusiast, discovered a gold signet ring that once belonged to the Sheriff of Nottingham.
The discovery was made on a farm in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire, 26.9 miles from Sherwood Forest. The forest is known worldwide for being the mythological home of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. A central road that traversed the forest was notorious in Medieval times for being an easy place for bandits to rob travelers going to and from London.
Today, the forest is a designated National Nature Reserve. It contains ancient oaks that date back thousands of years, making it an important conservation area.
“It was the first big dig after lockdown on a glorious day. We were searching two fields. Other detectorists kept finding hammered coins but I'd found nothing,” Harrison said according to the Daily Mail. “Then I suddenly got a signal. I dug up a clod of earth but couldn't see anything. I kept breaking up the clod and, on the last break, a gold ring was shining at me. I broke out into a gold dance.”
Gold Ring that Belonged to Real Sheriff of Nottingham.\n\nRead more: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/sheriff-nottingham-0016568\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/K7rhf2E62O
Harrison sent the ring to the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme to have it authenticated. After doing some research they found that it was once owned by Sir Matthew Jenison, who was the Sheriff of Nottingham between 1683 and 1684.
The first accounts of Robin Hood, then known as Robyn Hode, first appear in the 12th century, a few hundred years before Sir Matthew served as sheriff.
But there’s no doubt that the archer and leader of Merry Men would have been delighted to know that an everyday guy came into possession of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s ring.
Sir Matthew was knighted in 1683 and acted as a commissioner to examine decaying trees in Sherwood Forest. He was later elected to Parliament in 1701. However, a series of lawsuits over shady land dealings would eventually be his ruin and he’d die in prison in 1734.
The gold signet ring bears the coat of arms of the Jenison family, who were known for getting rich off a treasure trove of valuables left for safekeeping during the English Civil War. The valuables were never claimed, so the Jenisons took them for themselves.
Harrison decided that he would sell the ring to someone who appreciates its importance.
“There can't be many people who've found anything like that. I'm only selling it because it's been stuck in a drawer,” Harrison said. “I hope it will go to someone who will appreciate its historical value.” It was sold at auction by Hansons Auctions for £8,500 ($11,115).
March Historica & Coin Auction. 24 March \u2014 25 March. The Sheriff of Nottingham\u2019s gold signet ring #Historica #Auction @HansonHistorica\n\nCheck out HansonsAuctions's video! #TikTok https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMLmGN476/\u00a0pic.twitter.com/cbdwbWrqdH
Let’s hope that the man who sold the ring does what Robin Hood would have done with a piece of jewelry that adorned the hand of a nobleman whose family came into money by taking other people’s loot. Surely, he’d take the proceeds from the auction and give them to the poor.