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

 

 

Short Story Sunday: I’ll Return to You

They’d numbered many – the qualities needed to do the job. Passions and desires for secrets and more. So was the life of a spy. You give and in return you receive and take and steal away like a ghost in the night, leaving an empty safe and a broken heart behind. It was a good gig if you could get it. It was her life and passion.

In the dark of night she left him drugged in a deep sleep of happy dreams. She’d made sure of that. Still feeling his touch on her skin she dressed in absolute silence. In her bag were the documents she needed, along with photographs and other mementos, including a packet of love letters that she would keep for herself.

She might never find a love like his again. It was one of those loves that was once in a lifetime. It was the kind of love that would last forever.

He was the most well ordered and controlled man she’d ever met. His soul as full of adventure. He valued perfection. Best of all, he could exquisitely heat up the night unlike any other man she’d ever met. He was someone who’d never settle or compromise.

When he awoke hours later he reached for her, but that side of the bed was empty and cold.

Later that morning he was told she was dead. It had been an accident. That day he thought his life would end. He wanted to die. It was almost unbearable, but he made it through.

Ten years later he married a lovely, kind woman with a wicked sense of humor. They had two children. It was a lot of work and crazy living with a family and kids. Life was good, as it should be. In fact it was more than good. It was amazing.

Still, every time his wife was late or one of the kids didn’t call on time he had that feeling of dread and panic come up in his soul. He never told them, but it was always there. He couldn’t lose them. He couldn’t go through that again.

One afternoon he reached into the pocket of an old coat and found a note. It was in the script of his long lost love.

I’ll return to you.

He was beyond that. He was beyond dreams of seeing her again. He was beyond hope she was alive. He was beyond stupid thoughts. He was beyond the anger he had towards her. He was beyond the grief and the love and the memories so sweet of their time together. But something triggered his heart and he could feel a tear falling down his cheek. It was alright to mourn. It was normal. It was natural to feel and love and remember. There was no crime in that. It took nothing away from his life now.

Yet how many times had he caught himself asking “What if?”

He took the dog for a walk by the river, like he did each day.

On the bank, near where the geese always rested, stood a stunning woman with flowing gold curls and sky blue eyes. It was her. It was a his past and his dreams and his sorrow.

She turned towards him. “Hello Rob.”

The dog ran up to her wagging it’s tail. He froze.

“I was told you were dead,” he said barely able to get the words out.

“You were told wrong. I had to go. I know, I know, I know you must be angry but let me explain…”

He stood listening as she told him about adventures in a world he couldn’t imagine anymore. It sounded like more of a movie script or a spy novel than anything in his current life. It sounded like his old life.

Then she said, “I know everything about you. I’ve been keeping track the past twenty years.”

“That’s sort of creepy. I’m sure it was plenty boring compared to the life we used to have.” He watched his dog run down the beach then looked back to her. “Why did you come back?”

“For you of course. We can continue our adventure. You can get your life back. I still love you.”

He stood there thinking of all the times he would have given anything for one last chance to talk to her. Just one last chance to hold her. One last chance to start over with her and change the past.

Then he stuck his hand in his pocket and found a sticky mess of peanut butter and jelly. His daughter would always chew and lick the darned things a few times and end up with a mess over everything.

“I’m not that guy anymore. I’m different.” he said.

“How?” She stood with her hands on her hips. He thought she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “How are you different?”

“I have a wet gooey half eaten peanut butter sandwich in my pocket, and it doesn’t bother me.” Then he smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek and started up the trail back home.

 

~ end

 

 

Short Story Sunday: For the Kids

“Ironic isn’t it that my mom named me Tristan?”

“I’m not following you.”

“In the Celtic legend, Tristan stole another man’s bride.”

Bryan cracked another beer and gave it to his exwife’s son. “That isn’t why she named you that. There was a BBC show she liked. It was about a couple of veterinarians. Your mother loved that name. One of them was named Tristan. He was tall and blond like your dad. That is why she named you Tristan.”

“Yeah, I know. Listen, Bryan, I’m sorry. I’m being a dick.”

“Apology accepted.”

“When I was a kid I was always jealous of Hannah because she had two dads. I only had one dad. It didn’t seem fair. I’d always want to go with her when she went home with you. One of the best times of my life was when my dad was in that car accident and you took Sabrina and me for a couple of weeks. Why’d you do that? My parents tore your life apart.”

“It wasn’t about me, or them. It was about three kids who loved each.”

“Why’d you and my mom break up? What was the real reason. I mean, why’d she go to my dad?”

“It wasn’t your dad. Our minds were somewhere else. We never hated each other. Maybe she might have hated me a bit, but she wanted,” Bryan paused. “she wanted something else with someone else.” said Bryan. “Then I hated her for a few years, but realized it was just hurting me. Hate takes too much energy, especially when you have kids. One day you’ll know.”

Bryan still hated his ex-wife on more than one level but he’d never tell her twenty-three year old son. He liked the kid. Tristan was a smart ass but Bryan couldn’t imagine not having him around. Life was funny like that. It didn’t always make sense but that was OK.

 

~ end

 

 

 

 

 

College Life – What I learn from my child

One thing I LOVE about having a child in college is that I learn almost everything my child learns (except the math.)

Ever since Clara, was a preschooler she has always told her dad and I all about what she learned in school. Even when she went on field trips she’d repeat to us what the park rangers, or museum docent said.

Yesterday afternoon she told me about her new political science class (second semester of college started this week.) I learned about the instructor (he used to be a spy, and has two kids.) I learned about how he runs a classroom (no immaturity allowed – he will drop kids who don’t act mature.) I learned what the students will be learning. My child and I talked for about an hour about the two-hour class she’d just finished.

Like I said, this isn’t something new. During the fall semester I learned all about religion, our environment, weird fellow students, art, history, philosophy, and everything except math and Spanish. I did learn all about the math and Spanish classes – the teachers and the fellow students.

I learned who put out tables on campus – mostly political and religious groups. I learned about blood drives, especially after the Las Vegas shooting.

Now the second semester is starting. I’m looking forward to learning about the US Government and Marine Biology.

I’m looking forward to hearing my child’s nightly observations and insights.

I’m looking forward to hearing the passion in her voice.

She knows her parents will actively listen too.

Clara told me that if she tells someone else what she learns it will help her retain the information. True.

My child isn’t one of those brainiacs who always got straight A’s and was wooed by Stanford University or Ivy League schools. But she is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

It isn’t advanced math that will make her go far. She has passion. She has communication skills. Yes, people skills. She listens. She observes. She evaluates. She relates. She sees learning as an active life long skill.

She is my child and I am amazed every single day.

She is also hilariously funny.

Over the years I’ve posted “What we talked about this morning on the way to school” posts. I’ll have to start doing that again. She has her own car now, but we still talk before and after school.

When she leaves for the big university we’ll still talk.

If you get one thing out of this parenting blog THIS is it: Talk with your kids. Listen to your kids. LISTEN. Encourage them to talk to you and with you. Hear their thoughts and ideas. The more you listen the more they’ll want to talk to you.

And you’ll say, “Life is good.”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

By the way we also talk about pets, music, people we know, fashion, beauty products, the weather, movies, Netflix, cat and possum memes, and other daily stuff… but that is another blog post.

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: One Night

Andy opened his eyes. His head was still in tact, or at least he imagined it hadn’t completely exploded.

She’d called his name then jumped in his lap, knocking over the chair he was sitting in. As he tried to move he discovered his hair was caught under the top of the chair back. Someone pulled Taylor off of him, and helped him up.

“Yes, I’m fine,” he said to everyone who asked.

Taylor, a small young woman with a black bob and a quick smile, was fighting back tears. Andy figured at least three if not four fingers were broken, and maybe some other bones in her beautiful delicate hands.

He kissed her hand. Some of the pain went away. Then he slipped her six fresh one hundred dollar bills.

“This should cover your deductible and any other expenses tonight. Call me tomorrow and let me know how you’re doing. I’ll come see you.” Then he kissed her cheek. “We have to stop having so much fun.”

He declined help and decided to walk towards home. He’d had enough of clubs, and people, and the last place he needed to be was a hospital. Unknown to most of his friends he was a Vampire. He’d be fine.

As he walked along the city streets he thought about all of the women he’d ever known and all of the parties he’d ever been to, and all of the stupid things he’d ever done. His mind wandered to lost loves, and music, and how hungry he was. His head still hurt. The fall was harder than he’d initially thought. Blood would be good right now but he didn’t want to put out the effort for anything fresh. There was blood at home in the refrigerator.

He took out his phone and pulled up his Uber app, and called for a ride. It was another four miles at least to his house and he was tried of walking.

A song would take his mind off of it all. He started to hum the St. Motel song Midnight Movies. And right as he got to the verse,

Stories get told, I hear the plotlines unfold, it seems they’re handing me gold
Stories get told here at the midnight movies

The back of his head exploded in pain again. Someone, or something had slammed into him. He stumbled and went down on his knees, the palms of his hands scraping the sidewalk. He was grabbed and someone dragged him into an alley.

He heard a voice in his ear, “Andrew Todd, there you are in your long hair, and your Vicuna coat, and your expensive jeans, and your Italian shoes, thinking you’re better than the rest of us.

Andy smelled the foul breath in his face. It was a mix of old blood, rotting flesh, and dog farts. Opening his eyes he saw three figures. Vampire trash for sure. Shadow creeping bastards who lurked around in the dark damp corners of the city.

“Come on guys. Don’t make any problems with me. I’m one of you.”

The three, one large, one medium size, and one small, looked at him with dark lifeless eyes, showing their fangs.

“You think you’re better than us. Well you’re not, you perfume sucking faggot,” the smallest and ugliest one hissed at him.

Andy knew better than to try and argue with them. They were idiots, but dangerous idiots. They circled him, three against one.

A car stopped in front of the alley. A large man yielding a sword stepped out.

“Hey, ass-wipes,” he yelled, and he swung the sword. Three heads went flying into the alley, rolling like bowling balls down the lane.

Andy got to his feet and staggered back.

“Hey man, don’t worry, I’m your ride,” said the driver.

“You’re a Vampire Hunter,” said Andy, still sort of in shock.

“Sure, but I don’t go after your kind. Get in. Go on. I won’t hurt you.”

Andy gave the driver a large tip, locked the front door of his house, and went to the kitchen for blood. A small orange cat wound around his feet purring. He stroked it’s head and said “good kitty.”

Then he texted Taylor’s boyfriend to see how she was doing, went upstairs, and fell into bed.

A few hours later he woke to find a beautiful woman sitting next to his bed. She was dressed in jeans and a white button down men’s dress shirt, with pearls around her neck and on her ears. Chestnut waves of hair fell down her back. She stroked his cheek. He took her cool hand.

“Mom,” he said.

“I had a feeling my baby was hurting. Oh Andy, you have to be more careful.” She put her hand on his forehead and his headache vanished.

“Thanks.” After 163 years there was still nothing better than to have his mom there for him.

His phone dinged with a message. His mother picked it up. “That was Taylor’s mom. She wanted you to know she is going to be fine. Three broken fingers, and a broken bone in her hand, but no surgery is required. She wanted to know if you were ok. I texted back that you’re ok.”

Then she smiled, with a little big of fang, that beautiful smile that all moms have when they know their children are alright, and that they will be alright.

~ End

Short Story Sunday at Vampiremaman.com

 

 

Submission

We (my 15-year-old Clara and I) were on our way to the skate rink yesterday talking away about SAT tests and AP History when a story on the radio caught my ear. I turned up the volume. It was an interview with a writer who’d written a short story anthology.

I wrote a short story anthology. Hey, I need to be on NPR. I have been on NPR in the distant past but that is another time/place/life.

Anyway…to make a short story that seemed really funny to us even shorter…

The author we were listening to read a few paragraphs from her story. Clara grabbed for the tuner knob saying, “No, I hate this sort of stuff.”

My child has a low tolerance for “mommy” stories – so do I for that matter. But back to the story.. The bit read was about a child’s birthday party and well, not what we usually read. I’m sure it was quite good, if you like that sort of stuff.

I stopped my dear child from her knob turning and said, “Wait, I want to hear this. I like to hear what other authors do.” It was a great story. I liked this woman. She sounded like someone I’d like to have a glass of wine with and talk about kids and husbands and writing.

Then she said something that made Clara and I both perk up our ears. She said she’d submitted a story to thirty different publishers/publications and received thirty rejections. Then someone suggested she submit a story to The New Yorker. The suggestion surprised her. She’d never thought of that. So she submitted her story and 48 hours later she received a call saying her story would be published.

We thought this was great. Then we discussed another option. What if I submitted the same story thirty times to The New Yorker under thirty different names?

This was one of those moments when we both laughed and laughed and laughed. We were at that moment the most brilliant comedy team ever. Then again, Clara and I are the most brilliant comedy team ever 24/7.

Yes, this was funny to us. Thirty submissions of the same story under thirty different names.

My husband Teddy did not think this was funny. He just gave me one of those looks. It was more of a half look. He doesn’t appreciate our humor or that fact that we’re always laughing at something stupid. I just want to tell him, “you can run but you can not hide.”

Maybe I will submit a story to The New Yorker, but under my own name and just once.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Morning at the Vineyard now available on amazon.com (and tell the folks at NPR and the LA Times that this is the best book you've ever read and that they should interview Juliette Kings NOW. Any other media outlet would work as well. Yes, this is shameless but what do you expect? I'm a Vampire. We have no shame.

Morning at the Vineyard now available on amazon.com (and tell the folks at NPR and the LA Times and The New Yorker  that this is the best book you’ve ever read and that they should interview Juliette Kings NOW. Any other media outlet would work as well. Yes, this is shameless but what do you expect? I’m a Vampire. We have no shame.