Just DON’T: To those who discourage, stereotype and otherwise pigeon hole young people.

Pigeon Hole: Definition of put (someone) in a pigeonhole. : to unfairly think of or describe (someone or something) as belonging to a particular group, having only a particular skill, etc.

If you continue to Pigeon Hole young people I will consider you an Ass Hole.

I was out the other night with friends, who do not have children, and the subject came up of how my children are doing.

My daughter is waiting to hear from the four colleges she has applied for as a transfer student from the local community college. I’m doing the happy dance because she was accepted into U.C. Santa Barbara. Woot Woot.

So, for the 357th time my dear friend tells me, “you know that is where my niece got into drugs.”

My standard answer is usually, “kids get into drugs at every school, even schools like BYU.”

This time I said, “My children were not brought up in a hyper controlling, over protective, helicopter parenting home. Their father and I talked to them frankly about drugs, alcohol and what happened to friends of ours who were abusers.”

We (my husband and I) have always talked not just to or at our kids, but WITH our kids. We’ve had two sided discussions about all issues that will come up with our now adult children. Sex, drugs, and Rock N Roll (they know the difference between Led Zeppelin and lead paint.)

If someone tells you their child is going to a school, be it UCLA or Monterey Bay State (big or small) congratulate your friend. They have a child going to college. The same goes for the child who goes into the Navy, goes to a trade school, gets into a apprentice program, or does anything that will help them on that journey of life.

Don’t say how shitty their choice is.

The subject also came up about job choices and training. Family members LOVE to push younger family members into career paths they will HATE. Heaven forbid someone go into something strange like graphic design and illustration (my profession of many many many many years), or anything remotely involved in the arts or creativity. Heaven forbid someone go into a trade like being a mechanic. Hey if you love cars work with them. Any job you love is a good job. If you love cleaning toilets then do it. One day you’ll run your own multimillion dollar janitorial company.

My friends asked what another young person in my life wanted to do. I said he wanted to go into film or TV. Then I was asked what his real job was going to be aka back-up job.

I live in California. There are a lot of jobs in film and TV is you have passion, talent, and a drive. I’m not going to stomp on the dreams of any young people.

If you want to go into art – DO IT. If you want to work in a museum – DO IT. If you want to sing or act – DO IT. Yes a back up plan is ok, but think of all of the middle-aged people you know who have said “I wish I had…”

Don’t hate on the dreams of youth. A lot of young people have a plan for those dreams. Now they have access to the internet and other resources we (parents) could never dream of when we were young.

I’m not saying don’t have a back-up plan. Having a large set of skills is a good thing but…

I know we don’t want to see young people hurt, but killing dreams will do more damage in the long run.

Encourage our youth. Celebrate our hard-working youth. Say “GOOD JOB” to the kids who are studying, planning, researching, discussing, and doing.

My final words are for those of you who are not so young. You have dreams. You can also follow your passions. Nobody is there to stop you. Maybe you can’t do it on a grand scale, but do it small.

You can do it too. You’re never too old for most things. Don’t ever forget it. And don’t let the assholes pigeon hole you. Don’t.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

phole

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

 

Trust your kids. Seriously, they’re your kids so you should trust them.

If you automatically assume you can’t trust our kids they will never trust or respect you.
         ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Don’t listen to parenting advice from people who are bad parents with rotten kids.
         ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My nineteen year old daughter just texted me that due to the forest fires she and her boyfriend can’t see Mt. Shasta. Last night she sent me a photo from the cabin they’re staying in near Dunsmuir and Castle Crags State Park.

I would have never sent my parents messages like that had there been phones or texts when I was her age. The only texts they would have sent me were texts asking me where I was and texts that proved they didn’t trust me. I wanted to hear about the dog not their concerns that I might have been doing something bad. Of course they were too uncomfortable talking to me about “bad” things.

Never be uncomfortable talking to your children about anything – no matter how old or how young they are. You’re the parent. You never need to be uncomfortable with YOUR child. Of course you might just be uncomfortable about yourself. Don’t be an ostrich and get your head out of the sand. Ignoring shit won’t make it go away.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my parents but it was a different relationship than I have with my own children.

I learned that I was not to be trusted even when I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Parents assume they can’t trust their teens. Then again can we trust anyone? We all have our secrets. But to automatically assume that youth can’t be trusted does far more harm than good.

If children know you don’t trust them they will learn to lie. They will learn to be great liars too. Lies will be come part of their everyday life. Strange to some but true.

So how do you build that trust? Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Engage with them. Be there for them. Believe them when they do tell the truth. Stand up for them. Start the dialogue when they’re young.

I don’t advocate a totally no rules childhood. Kids are going to make mistakes. They’re going to do stupid things. They’re going to be untrustworthy. That is part of growing up. Childhood is a time of trial and error. But if you teach them to learn from their mistakes, if you guide them to do the right thing, if you teach them about self-respect and the value of a good reputation, if you teach them to be smart – not just book smart but street smart, then, well, it is a good start. Nothing about parenting should be accidental, even if you’re relaxed like me. I’m serious.

Every child is different and every family is different so it isn’t always easy. But don’t go into parenting with a harsh negative attitude. Teach your kids with love, and laughter and a positive attitude. Make them WANT to keep you updated on their where, when, who, and why.

Unfortunately our kids are all unique individuals so we can’t control everything they do or think. We can’t control all of the influences in their lives or their weird impulses. Unfortunately in a lot of families an older child will screw up so the parents assume all of the kids will. Don’t do that. Don’t punish all of your kids for the actions of one.

For example I have known several people who had siblings who took college money and lied about going to school. So the parents decided not to help any of their kids with college. That is just messed up. Don’t punish all of your children for the actions of one.

The blind lack of trust can and will cause resentment that lasts a lifetime. Nobody wants that.

Sure, your children will do stupid things at all stages of their lives. But try to trust them. Give them your trust and they will value it, if they know you value them.

Simplistic? Yes. Easy? Not always.

Sometimes kids are assholes. You have to talk to them about that in straight forward honest terms. Sometimes you have to say “don’t be a jerk” Any kid over ten will understand that.

We’ve all done stupid things in our youth. Learn from your mistakes and use that experience as a parent. That is your job.

I trust you on this one.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Transitions

When I started this blog I was working full time for an organization outside of my home. My brain and the rest of my time was filled with Middle School and High School activities. I spent more time with my brothers. The canine love of my life was in her prime.

I couldn’t imagine having grown children.

Now everyone is in college. We discuss school but I’m not that involved, except to be a cheerleader, a therapist when needed, an entertaining distraction, and the one who pays for everything. Jasmine the white sled dog has gone over the rainbow bridge – her ashes sit in a box among old photographs. My cats are still here. A new dog Alice, a large goofy GSD is now in my life. I work alone at home. I rarely see anyone, except ghosts, and my ancient family members who welcome my visits, which need to be more frequent.

The sports and the activities have trickled off to almost nothing. I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere. I am alone here with a house full of books and animals.

Then again new activities call me. There is the art museum. There is my art. There are books in the works. There are walls to be painted. There are funny stories to tell.

And if I muse into melancholy madness Nigel the ghost will show up and kick my ass so I’d better move on.

We all change and evolve. That is part of being on this strange, horrible, and wonderful planet. We are trapped here so we need to be fluid. We need to keep evolving no matter how old or young we are. Growth never ends.

I find myself telling my kids not to judge others for what they do or the choices they make. Not all young people have it as good as they do. They don’t have someone helping them pay for school and everything else. They don’t have someone who is there 24/7 to listen. They don’t have someone who doesn’t judge them or question their every move. They have a safety net. Not everyone has that so their choices can’t be judged. I urge everyone to understand the choices of others.

There is no clear path. Five year plans are wonderful until a tornado hits your house, or someone you love dies, or you get sick, or the economy crashes, or your heart gets broken. So you take another road, or climb out of another window, or up another tree, or make where you are a better place. You add more books to your shelves and make an effort to call your friends, and your mom.

Parenting adults is tricky because they don’t want to listen, they need you to listen more than anything in the world, and they start to parent their own parents.

Yes, they do all of that.

It is scary. More scary that a pack of zombies banging at your back door. You can deal with zombies. You don’t love them. They just make a mess. But dealing with your kids, no matter how easy and wonderful they are, is always a challenge.

Dealing with Zombies: Shot gun. Flame thrower. Pissed off Vampires.

Dealing with Adult Children: Listening. Worrying. Loving. Worrying. Listening. Loving. Laughing. Learning to let them be adults. Learning not to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

Everything will be alright.

With your kids, and with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

 

 

If you have a cat…

As a parent, even a parent such as I am, one sees a lot of nasty stupid things. You’d think by the time your kids are almost grown (almost 17 and 20) that it would stop. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about parents.

Dear Super Mom,

Maybe the reason you change your children’s teachers, schools, churches, sports, coaches, sports clubs, isn’t because everyone is insensitive and not doing their job. Maybe it is you. Maybe YOU aren’t doing your job. So just shut the fuck up and stop bad mouthing everyone. Look at yourself. And look at your kids – they’re mean to other kids, and they lie. Because of that other kids and adults don’t like them. Go figure your kids are just like you. How sweet. OK I’m done. Peace. 

 

Now that I have THAT out of the way…

Clara and I are planning another cross country road trip across deserts, mountains, and plains. Vampires love road trips. It is a time to crank up the music and see America. And who doesn’t like to taste the local flavor, if you know what I mean.

We are driving from near Sacramento, CA to Lincoln, NE, through Denver, CO. I’ll make sure I send photos from the road and my travel log. We’re going to the National Artistic Roller Skating Championships.

Excuse me for a second. Outside of my window is an angry Ghost. Did I mention that it is the middle of the day and over 105 degrees farenheit outside? Did I mention that I live on a hill, so the window is about two stories up.

I’ll be right back.

OK I’m back.

I motioned for the Ghost to come inside. He looked horrible – almost dead. I mean, he is dead, but not that kind of dead. Unless he is in his head-bashed-in with a frying pan look he had when he died he looks pretty good. He was one of those guys with almost a pretty face. You know, the kind with the sweet smile and eyelashes that make any woman green with envy. Yet, he is still extremely masculine. That does not sway my opinion of him, which is that he is usually a complete asshole.

He vanished in and reappeared standing behind me. His already shaggy black hair was almost standing on end. His skin look gray, even for a ghost. He wore his funeral suit without the jacket, and his black tie was loose around his neck, and he’d rolled up the sleeves.

“You look like you’ve been to Hell and back,” I said to him.

“Don’t even joke about that,” he said, then whispered the words Vampire bitch under his breath as if I wouldn’t hear.

I haven’t seen Nigel, The Ghost, for months, then suddenly he shows up in a bad mood, expecting my full attention.

I wait for him to speak, as one does with a Ghost. And I wait. He says nothing. Then I try to go back to writing something meaningful for my blog post about traveling with teens and young adults, but I’ve lost track of every thought in my head.

So I ask. “What is it Nigel?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it the heat?”

“I don’t have a physical body. I don’t feel heat.”

I’m not one for guessing games. In fact I hate guessing games. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone comes in and says, “Guess who I saw?” or “You won’t believe this. Guess who is getting married?” I don’t want to guess. I don’t want to throw out a dozen names and still not know what you want to tell me. Just tell me. So I didn’t even ask Nigel anything, and of course that drives him nuts, because he’d come back at me with a “guess what” fill in the blank.

The calico cat rubbed against Nigel’s leg. Yes, cats can do that, even if you don’t see the Ghost. Cats always see the Ghost.

Nigel gave the cat a smile and stroked her head, then he glared at me and vanished. I’m not even going to speculate on why he stopped by, other than to annoy me, or maybe he just needed to see the cat.

The train of thought is lost forever.

But I know that if you have a cat to pet then everything will be alright. If you have a cat your most troublesome Ghost will fade away with a smile on his face.

That’s it for today. Time to cool off.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

First published here in 2016. The kids got silver in their event. In 2017 they won gold. We’re not going this year but we’re still skating. I’m also still watching out for Nigel. I passed the cemetery where he was buried a few days ago and thought about him. As for the cats, they’re still sitting on the table by my laptop. 

 

Editors

My Editors Gloria and Oscar: Food and a box is all they ask for (usually)

 

Short Story Sunday: The Changeling (my favorite Mother’s Day story)

The Changeling

I’ll always remember what my preschool teacher said at lunch and snack times. “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” My parents lived by that. I’m surprised they didn’t both tattoo it on their foreheads.

Sometimes parents will notice their lovely happy babies will suddenly seem to change. Well they have changed. Your baby has been replaced by a crying, unhappy, grouchy, nasty, Goblin Changeling. Congratulations.

Sometimes the horrible Changelings are left to die on the doorsteps of churches, or locked in attics. Usually the real babies are brought back. Fairies and others help out. More often or not ransoms are paid. A mother might pay with her beauty. A father might pay with his strength. It could be anything depending on the mood of the Goblins.

In my case the Goblins dropped me into the home of someone who seemed oblivious to my nastiness.

I spend my entire childhood treating my parents like crap and tormenting my little brother Trevor. My brother hated me but he should have loved me. Without me Trevor would have been one of those sensitive pantywaist boys who lets people walk all over him. I made him tough. I made him stand up for himself. He should have thanked me for it.

I have no idea why my parents put up with me. The only reason I wasn’t expelled from every school I attended is because I always made straight A’s. Sure I caused a lot of tears but I kept the schoolyard in line. My minions kept close while I doled out punishments fitting crimes of weakness. As for lies… I was the number one princess of lies, and adults never knew what was going on. They alwaysbelieved me.

Sure there were more times I could count that I had my mom in tears, but hey, that is what you get for accepting a Goblin Changeling. She could have dumped me in foster care or sent me off to some farm of a distant relative. People suggested boarding schools, drugs and shock treatments. She just told them that they could never understand that I was different and unique in ways that nobody could ever understand.

At one time my parents sent me to counseling. I told Dr. Cray everything she wanted to hear. The good doctor said I was a well-adjusted and brilliant child. She said I was mature for my age hence others not understanding me. Boy did I have it pulled over her eyes.

Anyway, Trevor and I grew up and went out on our own. I met a few other Changelings and even married one.

We’re one of those successful power couples. He’s the CEO of a billion dollar software company. I’m an attorney and the biggest asshole out there, and proud of it. Beauty and brains and no morals what so ever. Justice for all.

As soon as I found out my future husband Blake was an over the top arrogant, self-centered SOB I fell in love with him. He loved me back as only a Goblin Changeling can love another Goblin Changeling.

I remember a day when a woman approached me. This should have been one of those turning points where I changed my heart and became a good person. I recognized her because I’d gone to school with her.

She said, “You were a bully. A mean horrible bully. You ruined lives.”

I just glared at her and said, “You should have learned from your bad experience. Instead you made the choice to be a loser.”

I’m like that. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks. I don’t care if they said I mean to my parents and twice as horrible to my brother. Tell me something I don’t know.

So on Mother’s Day I showed up at my parents with my husband. The hubby joined my dad in the back at the grill. Trevor and his wife Emily were in the kitchen with my mom. I put the vase of yellow roses I’d brought for my mom down on breakfast nook table and gave my mother a rare kiss.

Trevor glared at me. Emily looked uncomfortable.

“I have good news Katie,” said my mom. “Trevor and Emily are going to have a baby.”

“How about that Trevor, you aren’t dickless after all. Well congratulations.”

“Why did you have to say that Katie. Why are you so horrible all the time,” said the lovely Emily.

“I’m just like that Em. Well, I also have news. I’m pregnant too,” I said.

Trevor got right into my face. “You always have to try to upstage me Katie. I don’t care if you are having a baby. Your child will NEVER be allowed to be with mine. NEVER.”

“You know baby brother, if it wasn’t for me you’d never be with Emily. Why do you think all of those other bitch girlfriends of yours dumped you before you ended up with her? I was looking out for you asshole. I was also the reason you have your dream job. So screw you Trevor. I hope your kid is ugly and stupid.”

My mom should have looked shocked but she was used to me telling off Trevor. I was pissed and went into the living room. Mom followed.

She put her hand on my arm, then took it off as I tensed up. “Are you happy about your baby Katie?”

“Sure. It will be fun.” Then I looked into her blue eyes and suddenly I wanted to cry. I mean, like, my eyes started to sting and water up. “You’re amazing mom. Why did you put up with me all these years?”

“Because I knew nobody else would take you. My own baby had passed on. My little angel had never been right. The Goblins had scheduled a drop off not knowing there was no baby for them to take home. They just left you. Even Goblins don’t want their Changelings. What was your dad and I to do?”

“But mom, you knew?”

“Always.”

“So why’d you keep me?”

“Remember that horrible cat Billy we used to have.”

I remembered Billy. He was worse than I was. He’d hiss at everyone. He’d growl when you’d feed him. No act of kindness was rewarded. Billy was nuts. Damn, he was the Devil’s own cat.

My mom continued. “We kept Billy because if we’d given him up he would have died. Nobody else would have understood. He would have been put down. It was the same with you.”

“I loved that cat,” I told my mom.

“I know you did Katie,” said my mom.

She put her arm around me. “Let’s go back to the others Katie. And do me a favor. Try to be nice to Trevor. Just for today.”

“Sure. I love you mom.”

“Love you too Katie. More than you’ll ever know.”

“When I’m a mom I want to be just like you.”

We joined the rest of the family around the grill, all smiles and making nice. All the while I was thinking of ways to torture my brother and get even on the rest of the universe.

Life is good. Well, at least it is for me.

 

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman