Thinking Back on Being A Parent

When I started writing this blog I was dealing with Middle School and summer camp. Now I’m helping my kids navigate lease agreements and finding the best coffee grinders.

Over the years I’ve talked about navigating school and social situations. We’ve gone to concerts. I’ve seen first love come and go, but I’ve also best friends, and bonds that will last the ages.

In the great big world my children and I have discussed school shootings, the environment, and politics. We’ve been to political events so the kids and their friends could have that experience and see what it was all about. We’ve known what it is like to be different. We’ve known what it is like to be part of a group.

Every family is different, but I feel, I know there are some things that all parents must do.

So many people think schools should raise their children and teach them everything. Or many think going to church (God forbid) will teach their kids all they need to know about being a decent person. But they miss the point.

As a parent it is YOUR responsibility to raise your child. Not just feed them or clothes them but to share your world with them.

The number one most important thing I can say to parents is to TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I don’t mean lecture them or talk at them. I mean talk with them and LISTEN to them. Discuss things with them.

Encourage your children to be “big picture” people and go beyond their family, friends, and school. One day they’ll go out into the big wide world. You don’t want our little birds to take wings and get eaten by the first raptor who comes along. Teach them to see, to watch, to question, to be aware.

Teach your children to have their own opinions. Not everyone is a leader, but you don’t want you child to be a follower. They need to know that it is alright it they take their own path. If they choose to be with others that is OK but it must be their choice.

And yes, they should be allowed to make their own choices but you, as a parent, need to guide those choices. If they hang out with a bully then STOP that friendship cold. Let your child know why. If they have a friend you don’t like and the alarms go off then STOP that friendship. You’re the parent. Teach your kids to have real friends, not just kids to hang out with. Teach them NOT to give into negative peer pressure or bullies. Talk to them about it. Always encourage them to take the higher road. Even tiny children understand that to some extent.

Early on explain to your child how important reputation is. It is easy to lose one’s reputation but it is extremely difficult to get it back. Kids lose their reputations by hanging out with kids who offer nothing but trouble. Don’t think you can save someone by being good. They will only drag your kid down with them – and they won’t care. I know this is harsh but I’ve seen it happen too many times.

At the same time teach your children that good friends are a treasure. Teach them that they can have friends that are a different sex, a different color, a different sexual orientation, a different faith, and just different. Diversity is good. I speak from experience. Acceptance is awesome. Love is awesome. Friendship is awesome.

I love my children’s friends. I have grown to love their parents too. As much as I wail on about things I don’t like – I have been honored to have met so many great kids and awesome parents. Woo Hoo.

Laugh with your children every single day.

Encourage your kids to always be curious.

Raise a child who will be a life long learner.

Raise your children to be better than you are.

Raise your children to be better than you are. Even today my daughter showed me that she is a much better person than I am. I won’t go into details, but I can be an asshole. My child gives no second chances (like her dad) but she is smart, kind, and thoughtful. She has tact. Don’t get me wrong, most people think I’m the sweetest thing in the world (even other Vampires) but I can be… well, not always the person I should be. I’ve raised my child not to be like that.

I’m not the perfect parent. I think I’m a better parent for not reading copious amounts of parenting books. Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages is a must read. Real parenting stories are the best – not theory from experts and cold clinical studies. Besides, every child is different. Every parent is different. Every family is different. What works for me might not work for others. But I have to admit I am so proud of the kind of mom I’ve been.

Hey, how many kids can say “my mom blogs about vampires.” Not many.

No matter what you do, make your kid proud of you, and be proud of your kid.

Love them.

Encourage them.

Talk with them.

TALK.

Keep the communications open. Be positive. Be understanding. LISTEN. Let them know that YOU are their safe place.

Parenting doesn’t stop at middle school, or even high school. It is a life long job, even when they move out, gets jobs, and start their own families. Let them live their lives but let them know that you’re always there for them with your love and your understanding.

~Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Tiny Babes, Good Dogs, and Birthdays

Little Willie Sleeps

I believe this is the grave of little Willie Adams who died October 23, 1877, age 4 months, 22 days, in Sacramento, California. This little stone touched me so when we visited the cemetery in 2012 –  and I had no idea when I first saw the stone that the dear child died on this day (which is also my birthday).

It sends a shudder down my spine but at the same time fills my heart that this dear baby was so loved, and after 141 years not forgotten. He was just at that age when babies start to laugh and really see the world around them.

Sweet slumber little Willie. You were loved and I believe the love never dies.

October is an odd month with the Day of the Dead, Halloween, and so many birthdays.

I used to have a tank full of big beautiful fancy gold fish and on my birthday four years ago ALL of the fish died. I imagine they’ll be swimming around over my head on Halloween night.

That same October my Jasmine, the best dog ever crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I wrote a lot about her and posted a lot of photos of her here. She had my heart and soul. Yes, despite what you hear, which is not true, Vampires do have souls. We have one for our hearts and one for our shadow. Jasmine grabbed the one for my cold unbeating heart.

Jasmine

Jasmine – Best Dog Ever

By the way, today is also Weird Al’s birthday. He turns 59. Happy Birthday Al. The first time I heard him was I believe in 1978. I thought “This guy is nuts. I love it.” Little did I know.

My name is Juliette Kings. I’m married to Theodore Kings (Teddy.) I live near Sacramento. I was born on October 23, 1859. I am a Vampire, but most of all I’m a mom. And of course an artist, a writer, and I hope a good friend.

So I bid you all goodnight and good morning, depending on when you read this. Hugs. Kisses. Happy Birthdays. And remember to hug your dogs, hug your cats and give them lots of under chin rubs, and talk to your kids.

And in this month of October, do not forget those we have lost and loved. Love never dies, even if you’re a Vampire or a dog.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

dogwalk

vlad v

I love you. Juliette drew this.

 

 

 

Playing the Game – Can’t leave anything to Chance

Playing the Game – Can’t leave anything to Chance

Some say life is a game. I don’t believe that is a good message for teens but sometimes, on those stupid frustrating adult days when everything seems to go wrong it seems like some stupid horrible game. You know those days when you think “I must have been a really horrible person in a past life.” 

One of the frustrations about being young (in your teens and twenties) is that Chance and Fate are unfair forces that seem bound and determined to keep us down.

Chance isn’t logical or fair. He picks favorites. He excludes those who work hard. He surprises us with delights. He breaks our hearts and smashes our delicate egos. He devastates. He rescues. He is our best friend and our worst enemy. That said, try explaining that to your teen or college aged kid. Try explaining it to anyone?

And what about Chance’s fickle girlfriend Fate. Fate is lovely to behold but can be a real bitch. She likes to make us think she is on top of things, but in reality Fate has very little to do with anything. Fate is a poser. She is full of empty promises. Fate takes credit for things she did not do. Because in my opinion Fate does nothing if she can find someone else to do the work for her (and she is very good at getting Chance and others to do the work).

Then there is their friend Noel Reason. He is a secretive guy who has his hands into everything but doesn’t take credit for anything. In fact he shouldn’t take credit for anything. Sometimes things just happen for Noel Reason. But you never want to tell your teen THAT.

The unpopular kids are Logic and Reason. Nobody wants to listen to them. They are usually polite and never scream. They aren’t popular. But people who do get to know Logic and Reason love them. Their lives get better. The world makes sense. But it is so frustrating having Logic and Reason for friends because so many people hate and fear them (for no reason – chalk up one more for the gossip mill). You can depend on these two.

Ignorance seems to be the most popular guy around these days. He acts tough. He is the “bad boy”. He gets friends by spreading the message of fear and hate. His most famous saying is “We’ve always done things that way. If it was good enough for my dad it’s good enough for me.” Ignorance hates people who think freely and is glad to get his bullies to take care of it for him.

The perfect union

There is a rumor that Art and Science don’t like each other. In reality they are a couple – and a successful couple at that. Take my word on it. Plus they are two that your teens and twenty somethings need to get to know (and know well). As with Logic and Reason you can also depend on these two.

Hope stand by herself never knowing what to do. She has great power. She brings comfort but she also brings disappointment. Keep Hope as a friend but don’t make her your best friend (and she often is caught flirting with Chance which pisses Fate off to no end). Hope can do a lot for you and those you care about but she can’t solve the World’s problems.

Faith is Hope’s twin sister. You have to get to know Faith. She isn’t overly religious as some people believe. But she embodies all that is good and kind. She teaches us that all things are possible and to believe in ourselves and others. She teaches us to believe in what is good. She teaches us trust. But don’t keep her in the dark or cover her eyes or you’ll have blind Faith – and that combined with our pal Ignorance can be a very bad thing indeed.

Most of all teach your children that they should not depend on the friends above for what they  need or want. They need to depend on their own talents, drive and follow their own hearts. They must lead, not follow, not wait.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teens

Half a dozen teens ate Tide Pods.

About half a million people tweeted about it.

Twenty million believed that half a million kids were eating Tide Pods.

Thirty Million posted memes on Facebook about kids eating Tide Pods.

Those same people are now criticizing kids for speaking out against school violence because they believe that all teens eat Tide Pods.

This is what is wrong.

Everyone WANTS to judge.

Nobody THINKS about these things.

Nobody asks the teens they actually know about this shit.

People are stupid.

I’m sick and tired of it.

STOP EMBRACING IGNORANCE.

THIS is why Vampires sleep during the day. It has NOTHING to do with sensitivity to light. It is because people are stupid and they rush to embrace ignorance.

How do we change this?

Listen to young people for a change. They are our future. Listen to old people. Sometimes they have good ideas and nobody listens to them anymore.

Or maybe just shut the fuck up for a change and THINK before you post. Listen before you post. Have an original idea.

Go back to bed. Clean out your garage. Take a deep breath. And realize that there are different ideas and opinions out there to every problem.

This is for ALL issues.

In June all of the kids I had watched grow up will now be voting.

ALL OF THEM.

I wish them the best. 

They are our future.

We’ve let them down.

Let’s hope they won’t let us down.

 

Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Don’t talk AT them. Talk with them. Engage them. Force the conversations. Spend time with them. Hug them. Love them.

Don’t parent by accident. Your children deserve more than that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Musings and Conversations with my Millennial Vampire

Between my summer road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska (and the great Western US Adventure), and my trip up to Oregon for the total solar eclipse, I spent time with Garrett.

He is my first born, a late millennial Vampire, now a fourth year college student (they no longer use the terms Freshman – Senior.)

One night we sat together on the back deck watching the bats fly around the tops of the trees. The cats were underneath the porch light catching moths.

He changed his major from some sort of Environmental Science to Music Composition with maybe a minor in Film and Media Studies. He has the talent and the drive to be successful. Plus he has the advantage of being a Vampire. And his Uncle Andy (my bro) is musically gifted in astounding ways, and supports Garrett in every way.

Garrett is still interested in Environmental issues, along with fine art, but his heart is in music, as well as his talents.

Sometimes I am in awe of the remarkable young man who appreciates his talents and gifts. He also appreciates those around him.

“My friends and I,” he tells me, “we don’t take our donors for granted. We never take needlessly or aggressively. We’re not into that.”

I’m proud of my modern young Vampire son. He is by no means a pansy assed wimp. He is strong, and smart, and coming into his own powers. He is also kind, and sensitive, and full of humor. He can compose a jazz, or classical piece of music, then a few minutes later write a love letter for a friend, then go watch a science lecture just for the fun of it.

I worry about the future, but then again, I look at my kids and their friends, all new adults, and I’m not so worried.

As parents we need to teach them the knowledge of the past. In turn, they will create the knowledge of the future. Even as they grow older and lead their own lives, we are still parents. Appreciate their success. Don’t dwell on their failures. Enjoy them. Treasure them. Share yourself with them. And know you’ve done a good job (and if you haven’t it is never too late to turn things around.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Maman

 

Parenting: Nothing is By Accident

Today is my daughter’s 18th Birthday. I am no longer the mother of minor children.

I can’t even express the love I feel for my children – it is too much to put into words.

My daughter is one of the most wonderful and amazing beings I have ever met. Part of me knows it was just because of her DNA and whatever star dust she has in her soul. And some of it is her dad and me.

As a parenting blogger, once more I’ll let you in on my parenting philosophy. Nothing is by accident. I parent deliberately. I parent positively. I parent with love.

First rule – and more or less only rule: Don’t just talk at your kids. Engage your children. Make it a two-way conversation.

If you have one of those pesky and annoying tots who asks, “WHY?” all the time, I know it is tempting to drop them off at Grandma’s house forever or feed them to Goblins, but turn it around and ask, “why do you think? Let’s figure this out.” Then again if it gets really bad tell the child to just cut it out.

We cut the tantrums out of our life early. It was never acceptable. Period. I put them on the couch and told them NEVER AGAIN. The only tantrums that should be in your home are Fritz and the Tantrums.

You can fill your kid’s head with visions of God and Hell. You can yell at them. You can threaten them. You can take stuff away. What worked with us? When there was bad behavior at our house, or stupid behavior we discussed the long term social impact of such behavior. If you act stupid everyone will think you’re stupid. If you do stupid things everyone will think badly of you FOREVER because a reputation is a hard thing to get back once you’ve lost it.

Reputation was a long and difficult talk, but as a parent, you have to do it.

Always keep the lines of communication open with your children. Don’t judge until you’ve listened to them. Also let them know that it is alright to speak up and speak the truth. Often children (more often than not) will tell adults what they think the adult wants to hear. You have to dig to get to the truth. If you keep the lines of communication open then kids will talk. Tell them that it is OK to tell the truth.

Spend time with your kids. That doesn’t mean somebody has to stay home full time. I know a lot of working parents who spend a lot more time, and better time, with their kids than a lot of stay at home parents. Don’t even get me started on this argument that can never be won by either side. It isn’t a contest. Every family is different so get over it.

Anyway, spend good quality time with your kids. Engage with them. Talk with them. Teach them things you love, and in turn let them teach YOU things.

Things to do with your children:

Dance

  • Sing
  • Read
  • Talk
  • Discuss
  • Explore
  • Discover
  • Hug
  • Love
  • Love
  • Love
  • Protect
  • Laugh (do this about a hundred times)
  • Be silly
  • Share
  • Listen
  • Love

How hard is that? Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll thank me for it later. Maybe even sooner than later.

And remember, this is for regular folks too – not just Vampires.

Wow. It has been a wonderful and amazing love filled adventure – and this isn’t the end of it. They might be grown but they’re still my babies – always.

xoxxoox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman