The Poop

Yesterday my 21 year old daughter shoveled up an entire big brown grocery bag full of dog poop. I didn’t have to ask. She offered.

Our dog is huge. Our yard is fairly large with a lot of oak and citrus trees, no lawn, and some raised beds for a garden. It is a fairly wild undeveloped space that backs up to even a wilder undeveloped space. Between the garden and the compost bin way out back the dog crapped everywhere.

The point of this story is to say how proud I am of my child, and to be snarky, on my biggest snark subject of 2020. It isn’t political shit (pun intended.) It isn’t about shitty people who won’t wear masks and social distance. It isn’t even about toilet paper. It is about shitty people who raise shitty kids then expect to have the right to shit all over everyone else.

Yes, I’m talking about the school admission scandals.

Entitled, and frankly stupid idiot kids like the fashion/beauty influencer Olivia Jade, were getting spots in universities (private and public) because their parents cheated they system. The parents took fake sports photos, bribed coaches, paid people to take tests for their brats, and assorted other lies and pay-offs.

This is nothing new. A lot of famous people, including well known public officials have been known to have cheated their way through school admissions and straight through to graduation.

Cheating is not cool. It is a crappy thing to do. It might help the cheater but it hurts everyone, including hard working kids, and I specifically mean middle class kids who work their asses off to get into good schools. I’m talking about the kids who don’t get into the schools and programs they deserve to be in because a cheater took their place.

My daughter got into a top university on her own. She did the research. She filled out the applications. She took the tests. She wrote the essays. Her school was not involved in the recent admission scandals. If she goes to a university that was involved in a scandal for graduate school I’m going to have a shirt made that says, “My child is going to _______ and I didn’t have to go to prison for it.”

I guess the real point to my snark today is that an entitled brat like Olivia Jade, or so many more like her, would never volunteer to pick up poop so her mom wouldn’t step in it every time she went out to her garden. And after that we talked about fellowships, school, the environment, making a difference in the world, favorite movies, and dogs.

The point of this isn’t to be negative about the children of the rich and famous. Many successful, hard working, smart, and compassionate, young people have rich and famous parents. But the point is that their parents actually parented. Their parents gave them the skills and values so they wouldn’t even consider cheating to be ok in any universe.

In this world nobody is entitled to anything. Add that to your list of parenting things to do. Your child is not entitled to anything.

But, all young people are entitled to the opportunity to try, and to dream, and to take a chance. It is their opportunity, not something the parents should do for them.

Sooooooo that is the shit for today. The poop is scooped.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Be kind. Don’t cheat. Check in on those who might be sick, old, alone, fragile, or just need extra help. And as always, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Special Kind of Magic – Parenting in the Pandemic – Empty Nest Version

When I started writing this blog in 2012 one of my kids was in high school, and the other was in middle school. This was more or less a middle school parenting blog. Then the rest of my family crept into it. The old folks, my brothers, and even my parents. Then friends started to slip in through the cracks. No matter what parenting was always at the core of it all.

On of my kids finished up graduate school at the beginning of the pandemic. Now in the middle of the pandemic my daughter sent in her graduate school applications today. I read some of the letters of recommendation from several esteemed professors and people in her field. I was blown over.

This is the child I took to Black Veil Brides concerts. This is the girl who shocked the horrible middle school PE Bitch teacher with her stylish outfits that DID NOT break the dress code rules. This is the kid who struggled with algebra and ended up taking a series of upper division statistics and economics classes at a top university and getting almost all A’s. Yes, this is the kid who never got below a B in college. This is the kid who inspired me to write about glitter, glue slugs, and Emo music, and growing pains.

These are the kids had tough conversations with about school shootings, and death, and losing, and caring, and unconditional love, and failure, and reputation, and about being an asshole.

My daughter hasn’t been in a classroom since last March. She’ll graduate and never meet most of her upper division professors or classmates in person. She has asked for and received letters of recommendation from professors, and a boss she has never met in person. She has impressed others with her presentations and discussion points but never in person.

Both of my young adults would love to live life in person. Wouldn’t we all. Sure we go to the post office, and the grocery store, but not to schools, or museums, or coffee houses with friends. I guess we could sit outside the coffee houses, sometimes, if there is seating and not too many people are there.

My dog misses the days we’d spend outside at the local coffee house. At our usual table I’d write or read. My giant do would stretch out over the walk way and thump her tail at anyone walking by. I’d have water and treats for her. I’d pretend she was as smart and well behaved as she looks.

Now Garrett, who is 24 is living in the Hollywood Hills, housesitting until the middle of next year, working from home, and working on starting his own business with his best buddy Randy. Neither one of them has a girlfriend right now which is weird but a nice break for Randy’s mom and me. We’ve seen a lot of broken hearts with our sons. I’ve found a lot of love letters in the laundry.

Clara and her boyfriend (both 21) will be getting their own place in January. They’re both seniors in college, but will never set foot in an undergraduate classroom as students again. Their roommates are getting weird. Everyone is getting weird. They’ll save money and time. It just makes sense. Yes, if you’d told me this would be what we’re talking about today in 2012 I would have said NO WAY.

I’m serious about parenting but I’m pretty chill too. It isn’t just a Vampire thing. It is a parenting thing. Seriously, you have to be chill. You have to listen. You have to change with the times as a parent. As parents we are leading the way and we can’t do it blindly using rules from the 1970’s.

My kids are stressed. I’m chill on the outside but going nuts inside.

Clara, her boyfriend of four years, and his orange kitten all came up this week. It was a surprise. It was a 450 mile drive. They’ll go back on Thursday and return before Christmas. They just needed a quiet safe place to finish their finals and graduate school applications. Their homes didn’t provide that right now. Maybe two years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem but right now it is. I just want them to be able to finish school without any additional stress.

Yesterday Clara and I went out. I had on a red jacket and a red mask with a cat print on it. She wore a black sweater with a black mask with a cat print on it. That wasn’t planned. We just do that – always dressing almost the same or in the same colors. It has been going on since before middle school. It just happens. It is a special kind of mother/daughter magic.

So yes, I write about Vampires, but it is really all about my kids and everyone else I love.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind. Hug your dogs and cats. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help or those who are alone. And of course, if you get a chance, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Listening is NEVER Useless. Thoughts on parenting, and other 2020 challenges.

I decided to take a day off and garden, and do fall cleaning and organizing.

Sure I’m a Vampire but what do you want me to do? I don’t spend all of my time stalking unsuspecting people and drain them of their blood. I don’t sleep upside down all day with bats. I don’t sit around doing ancient rituals. Who the hell does that? Get off of my back.

Yesterday my husband, daughter, and I took the day off from all news, politics, and pandemic crap and went wine tasting. We are fortunate to live 45 minutes away from one of the most spectacular wine regions in the entire universe. It was a perfect day.

Tomorrow my daughter is going back down to Southern California.

Yesterday was a perfect day. Today I am so stressed out that I feel like my head is going to explode.

Having a so-called empty nest doesn’t get you off the hook for parenting. My kids are so stressed out by the state of the world, school, work, and everything else that it is stressing me out. As a mom I am their sounding board. I am not complaining. I’m just feeling useless because there is nothing I can do but listen. Listening isn’t useless I tell myself because it is true. Listening is NEVER useless. Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.

I’m just so damn worried about them. They’re smart. They make good choices. I’m good with that. That said, they are angry. They are discouraged. They are questioning everything.

With the election so close and no good choices for young people (just two old guys most of them don’t really support) they are frankly disgusted. They are loud and clear about their opinions.

Then there are our family dynamics to deal with. Mine are easy.

In my family we talk a lot about everything. We keep in touch. My kids talk to me or text me every single day. They don’t have to. They want to.

Don’t even get me started on those who think “self care” will solve anyone’s problems. Really? Right now autopilot is what is going to save me.

My fucking bank just merged with another bank (it was taken over by another bank) and now that is a huge cluster F. The lines at the bank are horrible. It took me five hours online to get everything half way working.

If anyone out there thinks being a Vampire or something other than what you are will help you please THINK AGAIN. Nobody is exempt from the modern world unless you want to be come crazy living up in the hills or out in the desert “off the grid.” Or you could live in a crypt, but in that case I doubt if you have a bank account. Shadow creeping Vampires who live in crypts and other unsavory places usually have dusty old attorneys who take care of their money, or they have a stash buried somewhere, or they just steal everything they need. Don’t even ask about how Zombies are living right now. Holy shit, this is 2020 and there is still a few months left for the Zombies to poke their rotting heads out of their hidey holes.

But I digress, we need to get back to parenting.

Right now is an extremely difficult time for parents with children of all ages.

My nephew and his wife just had a baby. I haven’t seen him yet. Any other year I would have been right over to San Francisco to meet my new little nephew. No such luck.

Our kids from pre-school to graduate school can’t go to school. Everything is online. Yes, there are a few online classes but that is more of the exception. Many trade schools are closed. Job opportunities are few and far between for our young adult kids who aren’t going to school.

At the same time our adult children are applying for college, jobs, trade schools and other programs. They feel totally screwed by the generations before them. To their credit they are doing better than they know. They’re strong. They’re getting organized. They’re loud. They’re fierce. I hope they will be force to be reckoned with.

My message to parents and to young people is DON’T GIVE UP. That is my message to everyone. Old, young, normal, unusual, weird, creative, uncreative, or whatever you are – DON’T GIVE UP.

I know I must sound like I’m rambling. My work at the museum is all online these days. I’ve been there in person once since March. I’ll go again on Friday and meet with a young person I’m mentoring. How cool is that? Extremely cool. I’ll be giving online tours with a docent friend. We’re over the moon happy about that.

So I’m fine. Teddy frustrated is fine. Our kids are frustrated but fine. My brother Aaron’s kids are frustrated by fine.

I guess the whole purpose here, aside from my gratuitous TMI venting, is to say that we’re all feeling a lot of pressure as parents. Just be there for your kids. Talk to them, but most of all just listen to them. Support your kids. Support their dreams.

SUPPORT THEIR DREAMS. Now is not the time to shoot down dreams or tell they can’t do something. Now is the time to just listen, be it by phone, text, Zoom, in person, or however you’re communicating these days.

I might get to gardening. I’ve spent the entire day in Zoom meetings, checking election results, taking care of banking BS, and being there for my kids. I’ll get out in the garden in an hour or two. My poor dog is feeling totally ignored.

Thanks for dropping by. Wishing you all peace of mind. Stay safe. Stay calm. Stay positive. Wear a mask. Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Check in on those who might need extra help, and those who are alone. Don’t allow anger to get the best of you – leave that for the brainless Zombies and nasty Ghouls.

Take care,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Exploring the Wonders

Exploring the Wonders

They grow

And explore

The wonders

Of the universe

If we let them.

Then they explore

The wonders of

their hearts

and imagination.

 

All children should be allowed to explore, beyond the world of their parents. We should be their guides, but give them the freedom to take that extra step to discover something new. If your child learns something new 9 times out of 10 you’ll learn something new.

Listen and learn from your child. You’ll know what they learned in school and what they did after school. You’ll know about their friends. You’ll know about those who aren’t so friendly to them. They keys to talk to them, talk with them and listen to them. Never take a one world answer. Make them talk. They’ll thank you for it later.

The sun is just coming up over horizon and the sky is turning pale gray and whites and blues. It is that strange in-between time for just about most creatures. Werewolves are turning back into their own skin. Vampires are thinking of going to sleep. Regular folks are getting up for work. This is my time to write when all is quiet. Quiet is a rare thing for a mom.

Summer is in full swing and I wonder how my kids will remember their childhood and teen years.  I hope that the memories they take with them are of the times we spent together talking and just being together. I hope the memories will be of ideas and discussions.

I hope those ideas and discussions will never end.

 

  • Talk to your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay safe
  • Don’t be a dick (be nice)
  • Science is real
  • Check on those who are old or at risk. Summer is hot. The pandemic is real. Make sure everyone is OK.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

Parenting: What I practice and believe in

I saw a post on a social media thread where someone asked, “what bad traits of yours do your children have?”

My response was: None. My kids have grown up to be the kind of people I wanted to be.

The person who asked the question responded, “Lucky you.”

Luck has nothing to do with it. Yes, I understand the whole nature versus nurture argument. Let’s put that aside for a moment.

We are all born with certain personality traits. We all learn certain personality and behavior traits. It isn’t a free for all. If you’re a hot mess it doesn’t mean your kids will be hot messes. If you made terrible mistakes in your youth it doesn’t mean your children will. If you hated your parents it doesn’t mean your kids will hate you.

Like I said, luck had nothing to do with the way my kids turned out. The only lucky thing they got was good looks.

What makes a successful parent? It is easy.

  1. Learn from your mistakes and teach your kids by it.
  2. Talk to your kids from the day they are born. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Don’t take grunts and one word answers to questions. Engage with your children.
  3. Show interest in your kids. I know you’re tired. I know you’ve been working. I know. I’ve been there. Show interest in them. By showing interest you will also be helping yourself. Think about it.
  4. Remember that your children are going to grow up to become adults. Prepare them for the adult world. Have those hard conversations.
  5. Trust your children. Give them reason to trust you as well.
  6. Teach them the difference between right and wrong. Not for any BS religious reason but because it is the right to do.
  7. Teach your children compassion and empathy.
  8. Teach them that yes indeed, they ARE judged by the company they keep.
  9. Teach them to be proud of who they are.
  10. Teach them to be curious and that learning is something they will do their entire lives.
  11. Teach them to be polite and to never be rude, especially when they are a guest. If they are pleasant they will always be invited back. Be better away from home than you ever are at home.
  12. Love them and put them first. Always put your children first. They need you. They depend on you. They love you. They can’t function without you. They need your guidance, your thoughts, your ear. Most of all they need your hugs.

Every child is different. Some are loud. Some are quite. Some seem too perfect (that can be scary) and some seem to make a mess of everything. Every family is also different, from the huge families with a dozen children to the family with a single child – and each child is unique. Every child has the potential to grow up and be happy and successful.

The following paragraphs are more or less what I put in my list but read it again.

 

Parenting – Why it is important and what I believe and practice.

My main message is for parents to talk not just at or to their kids but WITH their kids. Also to give your children the safety to be their own little personalities (or big personalities) and to be kids, but also give them the freedom to grow and fly. I am a strong advocate against over protecting children. I’m a mother wolf and yes, I’ll protect to the death, but I don’t want to be responsible for an immature, over sensitive, ignorant adult one of these days. Children, in my opinion, need their parents forever, but they also need to know about the world they’ll live most of their lives in, especially teens. They also need to know the harsh facts about sex, drugs and the company they keep. Our reputations and the choices we make as teens can stay with us our entire lives. Teens need to know this.

I absolutely love teens. They’re funny and wise and silly and so loving in ways that most people don’t even see. Just talk to one, or better yet, try to remember a million years ago in another time, another world, another planet, when you were a teen.

But I’m not going to preach those ideas in every single blog post. Through my tales about my kids, my husband, my brothers and my friends, I try to get across my messages about relationships, love, consequences, and just life. And if I can get someone to think or laugh I feel like I’ve done something. If I can get anyone to laugh I’m happy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Deliberate Parenting

The main message of this blog aside from don’t be a dick  is to be a deliberate parent.

Since 2012 I’ve been blogging about parenting. Now my children are grown and they’ve turned out to be amazing, capable, and independent adults. I am so proud of them. I am beyond the moon and back proud of them.

Please, if you’re parent read this, consider what I have to say, and if you like pass it on. Every family is different. Every child is different. But all children deserve parents who take them seriously.

 

Deliberate Parenting

Don’t parent with your eyes closed. Don’t wake up surprised one day when it is too late.

I raised my kids deliberately. I raised them not to be bully bait.

I raised them to be confident. I raised them to fly with their own wings and pursue their own interests.

I raised them to think.

I raised them to see the big picture.

I raised them not to be stupid or sheltered.

I raised them to question what they hear and see – even if they see and hear it from me.

I raised them to realize that one day they’ll have to make it on their own and that they’ll have to fight tooth and claw.

They know how to come to their own conclusions.

They know that reputation is everything.

They know that being fair and good and standing up for what is right and good is everything.

They’ll be far better people than I will ever be.

They aren’t perfect, but at least they have a chance.

I don’t always agree with them but at least we discuss it and as a parent I have the last word, period.

And they still cuddle with me and need me. We’ll always have fun.

Don’t parent by accident. Do it deliberately.

I’ll say it is important for your Vampire kid, but it is important for all kids, even Werewolves and especially regular human kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

motherandchild