Stop just for a moment

Children are sensitive souls, even when they are almost grown.

When parents are sorting through their own issues, their teens are stoic for the most part. They turn it all inside. That is when we (parents) need to buck it up and watch and listen.

They need us almost more now than when they were toddlers.

The same goes with marriage. By the time kids are teens life is so crazy and complicated and emotionally turned upside down.

We are all so busy and stressed that it just gets overwhelming.

I always say TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I still say that. But today I have another chant for you. Talk with your spouse/partner. Talk to the other parent in the house. This is assuming the other parent is in the house. If he or she is make the time for them, as well as for the kids.

I know you know this. We just need reminders.

Yesterday my brother Aaron stopped by. Aaron and I are the only married siblings of my parent’s brood of five. He was happy that his young adult children were home for a few weeks, but they were off in their own world. His wife Verity was either with the children or working on a thousand things that had nothing to do with him.

I thought about my own household where we were all coming and going at 3,000 mph.

Stop. Talk. Hug. Say I love you.

“Maybe we’re meant to be solitary creatures,” said my brother.

“We all need our time alone. Is everything ok?” I asked.

“Sure. I’m around my family but they’re not really there.”

We talked more. They ARE there but everyone just gets so tied up in everything but each other.

Sometimes both Aaron and I feel alone, yet we know we are both part of something extraordinarily special and amazing. We have spouses and children who are there for us no matter what, and we are there for them. In turn, we are siblings who are so different, yet we are always here for each other.

I get lost in my own thoughts and issues and forget everyone around me. I become like a shadow. I become invisible. Sure, we’re Vampires so we should be invisible for the most part, but not when it comes to those we love. Nor should we make anyone feel invisible.

So your assignment for today: Love and show it. Your heart might not be beating but it doesn’t mean you can’t make someone feel they are valued and needed.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

sunset heart

First published here June 2015

Parenting: Teaching your kids culture, but it is OK if they don’t know a 40 year old band, and don’t be an old fart.

When our kids were small we decided that part of their education would be teaching them the classics. On road trips Teddy would play music and the kids would identify the classic rock bands. At a young age (by the time they were six or seven) our offspring could identify Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimmi Hendrix, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, and a myriad of other bands. This included my husband’s favorite summer road trip band Van Halen.

Just to keep the record straight on this: He prefers Diamond Dave. I prefer Sammy. But hey, it’s all good.

This all is leading us down a path to somewhere, and I’m sure you know where (or maybe not.)

The extremely popular and talented seventeen year old singer Billie Eilish said in an interview that she didn’t know who the band Van Halen was.

Asshats all over the Internet jumped right on it. They criticized her for her musical knowledge. Seriously? Does it matter that she doesn’t know a band that started out in a time that seems like centuries ago to most teens?

In an attempt to educate my children and make them into cultured little Vampires we’d have Saturday Night Opera Bath. I’d plunk the babies into the tub and turn on the radio. Now twenty years later they don’t listen to opera and can only recognize a few songs. Does it matter that their Uncle Andy is a trained opera singer? Not really. He sings to the kids but not opera. That’s ok. Opera isn’t for everyone and neither is Van Halen.

Over the Thanksgiving break my daughter didn’t know who Steely Dan was. Do I care? Not really. I don’t go out of my way to listen to them and neither does her dad. At twenty she knows who Glen Miller was but not Steve Miller. That’s ok.

As a parent you have to make sure your kids don’t grow up in a cultural void, but you can’t teach them everything. They learn things along the way and they won’t know it all by the time they’re seventeen, twenty or even fifty.

For example my kids know art. They can tell you if a work is Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Dada, Pop Art, Medieval (their least favorite and what they consider the weirdest), Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Surrealism, and many many other movements. Art is important to us, so we passed that love on to our children.

They can’t tell you who any of the presidents between John Quincy Adams and Abe Lincoln were, or anyone right before or right after Teddy Rosevelt. If they really think about it they might be able to come up with some trivial facts, but neither one are American History Majors, or Music History Majors.

We all teach our kids our own culture. In my house it is art and music we like, and how to grow herbs, and bad puns. They’ll catch up on all of the other stuff. Believe me, they can, and will, beyond your wildest expectations.

The fact that Billie Eilish didn’t know who Van Halen is is OK. She is only seventeen. Maybe her parents didn’t like Van Halen. Nobody is going to play music to their children unless they like it. Some people do play music to their kids that they don’t like but they’re just weird and read too many child rearing books.

Ms Eilish obviously had caring parents who shared a wealth of knowledge and encouragement to their child.

One of the things I like best about her is that she is her own young woman and a good role model to other teen girls. She doesn’t rely on dressing like a later day Playboy Bunny to get attention. It is her music not her T&A.

Another thought…

Don’t EVER stop learning about and listening to new music. My kids introduced me to so many new bands. Of course as Vampires we have to keep up with things as a matter of survival, but that’s another blog post. Some of the best concerts I’ve ever been to were with my kids. I even went to Warped Tour with them. Yes, we had more fun than I could have imagined years ago at a Black Veil Brides Concert. Parents and other adults – don’t be old farts. Expand your musical horizons. If you have questions just look it up on my blog. I think I’ve written a dozen posts about going to concerts with and sharing music with my kids.

I’d like to think that most people reading my blog are life long learners.

So keep learning. Keep sharing information. And keep encouraging others not tearing them down (unless they’re assholes, then you can tear them down as much as you want.)

I’ll leave you with some music. I’m off to hang lights on my Christmas tree, and then maybe dance the night away.

~  Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Don’t Bother Me (I bet you feel the same)

I still own the small adorable house (1,100 square feet) I purchased when Teddy and I first started dating. I don’t live there, but I rent it out to a little nice family. About once a week I get a call, text, or letter from someone wanting to buy it. I always tell them $650,000 cash by Friday, small bills. Nobody has taken me up on the offer yet.

The latest guy asked where I got the price. I responded with, “Dude it is my current selling price. We are in California, plus the property has the added bonus of being haunted. Ghosts cost extra.”

I have to give the guy some credit because he responded with “Good luck! No ghosts for me! I was thinking of $900k; now that there are ghosts I’m not interested.”

What else is going on today?

I’m not seeing any ghosts at my house (where I live.)

I have seen a dozen or so squirrels who no doubt were the ones who took one of my humming bird feeders yesterday. There were also two coyotes out back who had ALL of the neighborhood dogs barking. Something large flew over. I have no idea what it was because I only saw the shadow.

As with most Vampires, I don’t like to be bothered. I let the dog bark and growl at the door. Yes, my dog is a total goof ball filled with sweetness and preciousness, but she is also a ninety pound German Shepard with a loud hell hound bark. Then there is that low growl that would put fear into just about anyone.

Just like the random animals that wander in and out of my yard… wait, that isn’t correct. The animals aren’t so random. I see the same ones every day and every night.

Be it home repair, religion, or anyone asking for money, I don’t like strangers at my door. I don’t like strangers calling me on my phone. I don’t like them sending me mail (traditional or email.)

My twenty year old daughter keeps getting invitations to move into local senior communities. I forward the invitations to her with the note, “Skip college and go straight to retirement.” When she was in high school she was flooded with coupons for baby formula and sent diaper samples.

My husband gets advertisements for burial plots.

My twenty three year old gets mail about gun shows and male “enhancements.” I don’t forward those to him.

We all record everything we watch on TV so we can fast forward through the commercials.

I’ve worked in marketing. I know how it works. Unfortunately things are totally out of control and so random. The invasion of personal privacy is out of control.

That’s all. Now I have to go search for the missing humming bird feeder, and maybe one of my ghosts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

Slut (and a few additional thoughts)

A story from my friend Bart. He’ll tell you all about it (you might have heard this before but it is a story well worth repeating – I’m sure a lot of you can relate.) At the end I will have a few more thoughts of my own.

Slut

A lot of us have kids in college, or starting college in the next year or two. One of the big things everyone is talking about is sexual assault on campus or in college towns. I’ve talked about it with my two kids who are in college. Everyone has, at least everyone who is a decent parent.

So I get this call from Hodge Williams. Yes, that Hodge Williams. Everyone remembers him.

“Bart, how are you?” As soon as he spoke I wondered what he wanted.

“Hodge. Fine. Great. Life is good. What’s up?”

“I’m writing a story on the history of sexual harassment and violence at universities in the US. I tried to contact your sister but she wouldn’t return my calls.”

“Beth?”

“Yes, Beth. She kind of got around so I was thinking she might have experienced first hand, you know, she was at risk.”

“What do you mean by at risk?”

“Oh come on, your sister was a slut. Everyone knew it.”

I sat there with the phone a bit stunned. He just called my sister a slut.

“Hodge, you’re an asshole. In fact you’ve always been an asshole.” I hung up the phone. What an asshole.

After sitting for a few minutes and collecting my thoughts I called my sister and told her about the conversation.

“What an asshole,” she said. “Sure I was sleeping with his best friend without the benefit of being his best friend’s official girlfriend. OK I also slept with another one of his friends but we were in college. We were young.”

“Did you ever sleep with Hodge?”

“No. Hell no. He was always making passes at me and grabbing me. Hodges had that Madonna/Whore things going on in his head. A girl was either a virgin until marriage or a whore. Plus we’re not like him, you know the religion thing, so he just assumed I was a whore.”

“But you didn’t have sex with him.”

“I know. That makes me a whore. He called any girl who wouldn’t have sex with him a whore.”

“What an asshole.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. I mean, if the guy had asked me to go see a movie or go for a walk or just spent time talking that would have been different but he was just all over me like…yuck. He really called you? I can’t believe he’d have the gall to do that. Asshole.”

After we got off the phone with the promise of a lunch date later in the week I got to thinking about my own kids.

I’d spoken with both my daughter and son about sexual predators. I’ve done the best to teach them not to be bully bait. I’ve taught them to stand up for themselves and for others.

From experience I knew that bullies never grow up and most don’t change.

Hodge never got the answer he wanted. Over the years Beth had a few close calls with sexual predators but she always ended up safe either by being with friends or using physical force to get out of it (exactly twice as she told me.) That didn’t include unwanted advances by guys like Hodge. And even though Hodge didn’t use force it still hurt emotionally that he’d think so little of her or of any girl.

I wanted to pound the crap out of him. Then I thought about how many other women out there who thought the guy was an asshole. That made me smile. Spread the word ladies, spread the word.

That evening after work I talked to my wife about it. She shook her head and said she’d had similar experiences. More anger surged through my brain, then sadness deep in my soul.

We all judge others. We all make assumptions. We all call names even if it isn’t out loud. We all talk behind the backs of others. Maybe we need to stop. It isn’t easy. It isn’t even practical.

Anyway, if you see Hodge Williams call him and an asshole, and tell him that Beth and Bart don’t say hello.

~ end

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since the day I became a mom I’ve thought of telling my kids about sexual predators. I’ve told them that more often than not sexual predators are people they know. It will be their word against yours. More often than not they already know how to hack the physical, emotional, legal, and social systems so that you won’t win. But always fight back. Never believe their lies. Tell your parents or someone else you trust.

Parents: LISTEN to your kids. Talk to them. Don’t judge. Don’t yell. Listen. Help. BELIEVE THEM. Kids and teens don’t lie about these things.

College Kids: RED CUPS. Don’t drink out of a drink anyone else gave you. That sweet punch in the big red cups will SLAM you hard. There will be a blog post about it and a quiz in a day or two.

In light of everything going on in the news this week I have a story. A friend posted something on FaceBook about men and boys behaving badly. She claimed if women flashed their boobs at Mardi Gras and other drunken events like concerts etc., then why did we all have a problem with men flashing their dicks.  I thought I’d quote my 19 year old daughter:

“When a woman flashes her boobs she is being silly and using bad judgement. It is insanely tacky and rude but not threatening anyone. When a man exposes his penis to someone it is a power and control thing. He is doing it as a threat. He is doing it with the purpose to make someone else intentionally uncomfortable. You can’t compare the two.”

That is all for today. Be safe. Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Believe them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Parenting in the Land of Monsters

As parents we all have those moments that we can’t get out of our minds. Now that my children are in college I’m cautiously walking down the memory lane of their childhood.

I was driving down the freeway this morning and saw some interesting things. The first was that Stormy Daniels is going to be performing at a local strip club. This is one of those large “Gentlemen’s Clubs” that is in an industrial area far away from homes or schools. I hear the place is popular with a certain groups in the local high tech companies but that is another blog post. That has nothing to do with this post except I thought it was interesting. Read on.

I also passed the sign to the Curragh Downs subdivision in Fair Oaks, California. This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in my neck of the woods. The houses are large and often with a view. The community is exclusive and gated. But I pass no judgement. A lot of nice people live there.

Yes, this has to do with parenting and children.

In November 2016 ago my daughter and I volunteered to be Election Clerks for Sacramento County. The polling place was at the Curragh Downs club house. Everything went well with the polling, as it always does. Other than the crazy old guy with dementia who always yells at the poll workers, it was a positive day.

But at the end of the night, later at night after the polls had closed, when we were counting ballots, and putting away equipment, the woman who was responsible for the club house came by to lock up. As we, the six poll workers finished our work this woman started to spew her opinions.

She gladly spewed out racial slurs and political opinions. Most of the comments were racial. All of us poll workers were clearly uncomfortable but as poll workers we could not express our opinions. For about twenty minutes this woman reveled in her personal stand-up act of self congratulatory bigotry. She was white. Then she said what she was saying was ok because her husband was Asian. WTF?

I don’t have to words to describe how upset I was. This was one time I was with my child and I could not be my best Vampire Mom. At the car I was livid. My lovely child told me that the woman was wrong and a bad person but that I should have been so upset. But I was upset. I was extremely upset.

That woman was a monster in the body of a smug middle aged woman. I don’t care that our political opinions did not match. It was the fact that she gleefully was able to share her open hate and blind ignorance.

No parent wants a positive experience about how our society works to be tarnished by some flaming asshole jerk-off entitled nasty ignorant hateful bitch. That is why I’m calling her out here and now. I don’t know her name, but I can still tell my story.

There are other childhood stories in my folder today. There was time when another mom called me to say she thought my 8th grader was cutting herself (cat scratches.) There were a few girls I thought were Satan’s spawn. Yes, there are children who act that badly (and so do their parents.) There were other things so bizarre that I wasn’t sure what to think. I’ve posted a lot of those here. Do a search – you’ll find them.

My children have returned to college. One is far away. One is still at home. They are excited about life. They are excited about being part of the big wide world.

Their father and I have taught them that there is no room for hate, racism, or other bigotry in our world. They have learned to accept those who are different. They’ve also learned, in a lot of cases, to celebrate and appreciate those differences.

Like I’ve always told them, “The world would be a boring place if we were all the same.”

You can’t protect your children from everything, but you can talk to them about it. You can support them. You can teach them to stand up for their opinions and rights. You can teach them to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

I just wanted to call out that bitch.

That’s all.

Hug your kids. Talk with them. Love them. And if they’re 18 or older make sure they vote.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

A Light That No Band of Old Men Can Dim

iphone-MYkh

I usually blog about parenting and Vampires with posts that are funny, and weird, and entertaining. I’ll get back to that soon. Lately I’m thinking about other things. I’m thinking about real horrors that our kids face.

Parenting isn’t always easy, especially when the world seems to have gone insane and you don’t have the answers. You’re the parent. You’re supposed to know everything, even when your kids think you know nothing – they still want you to know everything.

I’ve been writing about parenting on this blog since 2012. I take parenting seriously. I think about it a lot. I practice what I preach. My kids are amazing. Their friends are amazing.

So what’s the problem?

My daughter was born in 1999, the same year as the Columbine High School shootings. The first time I heard the elementary school was having lock down drills in case a bad man with a gun came to the school I never imagined how sad that would make me. Lock down drills where little children have to learn how to hide from bad men with guns. We don’t live in a war zone. Our children shouldn’t have to live in fear of men with guns.

There were more shootings. Some were at schools, movie theaters, on military bases, at colleges, and at work.

I was in tears the day I picked up my children and told them about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. All of those beautiful little children, all of the adults who cared of them gone. Just gone. For no reason. No parent wants to discuss something like THAT with their own children. But we have to. It is the world they live in.

Then there were more shootings. People said to wait until we’d mourned. But we didn’t have time to stop mourning – we’d been mourning since 1999.

In 2016 everyone was shocked at the shooting at a club in Orlando, Florida. Forty nine people were murdered. It was senseless. It was unbelievable. All of those beautiful people killed.

We all know what happened in Las Vegas in 2017. We’re still not over that one. That was one of the biggest WTF moments in American history. It was so unbelievably tragic.

That is the world our kids live in.

So when we heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida it was almost too much. It was too much.

Still there are those who choose to troll the teens from Parkland who speak out. There are politicians who criticize them and their parents and teachers for mobilizing, organizing, and saying ENOUGH.

2016 was an educational year for teens. Their parents, teachers, and every adult they knew had never seen an election year like that. Our children were exposed to hate, bigotry, and ignorance the likes of which we thought we’d never have to deal with.

Yes, I had hoped that by 2016 kids wouldn’t be dealing with hate, bigotry, ignorant anti-science dim-witted idiots, misogynist religious zealots, people who spoke of the good-old-days that were not great but horrible.

I took teens to see Bernie Sanders so they could experience a political rally. The kids had fun. There were quite a few bands and other singers. It was a good experience. The Trump rally wasn’t safe. The Clinton Rally was at a bad time and not at a great location. We heard it was disorganized and the speaker, Bill Clinton, showed up a couple of hours late.

I volunteered to work in a polling place along with my daughter. All went well, except at the end of the night the woman who had the keys to the clubhouse that was used for the polling place started to spew racists remarks. She was NOT a poll worker. The club house was part of her community association. Anyway, she made crude racists remarks about those who were black and hispanic. She was white. She said it was ok for her to talk like a bigot (my words not hers) because her husband was Asian. All of us poll workers just listened almost in shock. Because we were all sworn in at the time we couldn’t make any comments. By the time my daughter and I got to my car to go home (after a 16 hour day) I was so upset by that horrible women’s remarks. My daughter told me not to let it bother me, but it did.

I didn’t like anyone who ran for office during that election. What I hated the most was that by the time we got to vote in California we had NO CHOICES. I didn’t want to vote for Trump or Clinton. Why had our political parties let us down. Money. It is all about who has the most money. It is never about the American people. That is not the lesson I want my kids to learn but unfortunately that is the only lesson I can teach them right now.

All of the hate and embracing of ignorance on all sides since the election has been horrible. This is not the world I want my kids to know.

So we need to change it. Our children need to know that THEY can change it.

I remember when I was a small girl and asked my father, “is there always a war going on?” I don’t even remember his answer. I just remember the I don’t have an answer look on his face. Now that I’m a parent I find myself without answers.

Do not disparage today’s youth. They are going to stand up and fight. Not with guns. Not with knives. Not with poison. They will fight with truth. They will fight with facts. They will fight with passion. They will fight with their vote.

Their light will shine bright. It is a light that no band of old men can dim.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

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