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

 

 

Seeing Beyond Yourself

When your children go out into the world there are traits they’ll need to be successful, even if they’re Vampires.

Compassion and seeing beyond your own single mindedness is something that our world lacks. It is also something our children can make up for, and make their future brighter.

You can be the smartest person in the world but if you can’t see traits and qualities in other that you don’t have then you aren’t that smart.

You can be rich but if you don’t give back then you’re morally poor.

You can think you know what you like, but if you’re closed minded you’ll never really know what you like.

As our children become adults they must move from the sheltered world of their childhood, that of high school and their parent’s home, and see beyond themselves.

Your assignment for today, as a parent, grandparent, or anyone with a young person in your life: Talk with your young person about the big wide world. Talk to them about compassion and making a difference. It is a big world, but even a small bit of compassion will go a long way and make a big difference. How have you seen beyond your world? Share that. And with any luck, your young person, in the infinite wisdom of youth will share their visions with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Conversations on Trout and Life with Vampires

Conversations on Trout and Life with Vampires

One morning in August of 2015 morning Garrett (then age 19) and I stopped by to see Great Great Great Grandmama Lola. Even as Vampires go she is old (born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer), but she looks all of twenty-six.

In her living room was a large fish tank. Garrett immediately went over to check it out. “When did you get this Grams?”

“Last week. I caught the fish myself. Aren’t they lovely.”

In the tank were two rainbow trout, fresh from the river. I could have given her flack about catching wild fish but I didn’t. It would have been a waste of my breath.

Garrett held out his arm and an African Gray parrot landed on his wrist. Lola claims the parrot is over 200 years old but I never know what to think. She has had the bird for over 80 years so she could very well be right. But then I never know with Lola.

I noticed a pair of boots on the floor, tucked halfway under the coffee table.

“Company?” I asked.

“Upstairs sleeping. He’ll sleep for the rest of the day so you don’t have to worry about any awkward moments.”

“So he is just a Regular Human and not a Vampire?”

“Of course,” said Lola. “He works nights for the Highway Patrol. I think it was the boots that did it for me, well that and everything after he took the boots off. Anyway, I’ve made sure he won’t wake up for another six hours at least.”

Then she looked at me and smiled. “Remember the time, when we sat on the wall on the boardwalk watching the ocean and smoking cigarettes for hours. There must have been a thousand shooting stars that night. Then we went dancing with the two brothers from San Francisco.  I could taste the whiskey in their blood. Oh God, I can smell the salt air thinking about it. Do you remember? They were so funny. We couldn’t stop laughing.”

“They both died in the trenches,” I said.

“Trenches? World War One?” Garret asked.

“Yes,” said Lola. “You’ll learn that…” she paused. Then she twisted her long curls into a knot on top of her head, then took a deep breath. “I know you’ve thought about this Garrett. Over the years you’ll meet a lot of people and you won’t forget any of them. Some will go to the back of your mind of course. But what I’m trying to say is you need to respect the memories of those you come across and respect their lives. Respect those you entertain for blood, as well as those you entertain for company. They are more than prey. Respect that.”

“I do respect them. Believe me Grams, I do.”

“Good,” said Lola. “You’ve raised him right Juliette.”

On the way home I thought about those young men, Albert and Hubert. Al and Bert. I thought that war would be the last. We all had that sort of wishful stupid thinking. But no such luck. People are still as stupid and evil as ever. Thank God I was born a Vampire.

Garrett said he wanted to invite Lola down to see him at college. I thought it was a good idea. It is always nice when grandparents visit their college aged grand children, even is the grandparent looks more like a sister.

Lola still suffers from nightmares of things that happened long ago. She has shakes from bouts with Vampire Hunters and scars that have never quiet healed on her body and spirit. She won’t admit it. She lies and says she is alright. I have to admit that we all do that to some extent.

So I excuse her for keeping trout in her living room, and a parrot who sings dirty songs in French and Italian. I excuse her for having men with six pack abs in her bed sleeping off blood loss from the night before. I really don’t need to excuse her, because I accept her. There isn’t anything wrong with her.

I find myself wondering if the mom in me has made me think in ways that are too prim and proper for my own good.

A few days  later I was laughing at this (look below at the funny from Classical Art Memes.)

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And my daughter (then 16) said, “Most parents would have no idea what this means, and you’re laughing out loud at it. That is what makes you the cool mom.”

I don’t always feel cool, but I can out hip any hipster. What was that song? Make “Em Laugh. You know, Donald O’Connor. Look it up on YouTube. I can Make Em’ Laugh. And I can out hip. Yes I can and without looking stupid. Vampires invented hip.

I doubt if my grandkids (when I have them in the far future) will find a 32-year-old CHP officer in my bed, but I’ll be relevant. I’ll be more than relevant. Even now my kids aren’t embarrassed to be with me. Granted we’re Vampires, but teens are teens. Holy crap, I wouldn’t want to be a Werewolf parent. Their kids are weird.

So anyway, just keep laughing, and loving, and don’t bring wild game home, or CHP officers if you can help it (I don’t care how good looking he is.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Lola

Lola

Just talking about teens (Boys are Stupid: Part 28)

(Reposted from July 2015. The kids are all grown up now but this is still funny…at least to me)

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Girl Child (age 16): I’d hate myself if I was a teenage boy. I am so glad I’m a girl. If you’re a boy you’re expected to act cool, drop F bombs a hundred times a day, say the N word a hundred times a day for no reason because they think they’re cool but they’re a bunch of stupid little boys, you stink all the time, if you get near another guy and give him a bro hug you have to say “No homo.” Boys are so insecure. Then they go home and be perfect little clean mouthed little polite mommy’s boys.

Man Child (age 19): We’re not all like that and the rest grow out of it. Most of us grow out of it.

Girl Child: Sure, you and my guy friends. But the rest of the guys. They’re all a bunch of F boys. They posture like a bunch of monkeys. I feel sorry for you.

As a mom I just listen. Girls swoon over the Man-child. The Girl-child is going to break hearts. They are both going to grow up and realize that they were on the right track – more than either of their parents (or at least more than I was.)

Some of you might be horrified but all kids talk like this, at least the ones I know. They talk about life and love and what they see and hear at school.

Then I watch them both sit in the cool dining room with the shades drawn, working on school work for fall. They’ll laugh together until their sides split, then they’ll study and study and study. I’m not helicopter parent – they do this on their own.

For all parents of young children my advice would be to guide your kids. Talk to them. Encourage them to be curious. Teach them study skills. And let them know that at a certain age that it is on them to work for their future. Let them know that they should be kids, but prepare them to be adults.

Sure they’ll make mistakes. How else can one learn?

I let them speak their minds around me too. I don’t want them ever to be afraid to speak or feel they have to have secrets.

But I swear, being around teens is like a 24/7 comedy club. I have to write this stuff down as they say it, or record it.

Oh well. Just thinking out loud.

So your assignment for this week is to hug your kids, listen to them, laugh with them and love them. And tell them not to be jerks or try not to offend everyone they see. It isn’t cool. It is just stupid.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

vampire teens

A Normal Vampire Teen – Love Poems and Letting Go

A Normal Vampire Teen – Love Poems and Letting Go

She stood by the trees

Green leaves glowing in sunlight

Hope and desire glows

From her perfect skin

Her blonde hair like a halo.

My heart breaks

For my fondest desire

Is to grow old and frail

With my springtime girl

She stood by the trees

And smiled back at me

I waved and smiled

Just friends, not lovers or donors,

Friends for a while

And I wish her well

A long and happy life

As I watch and wonder “what if?”

 

I found that free form verse scrawled on a paper in my sixteen year old son’s backpack. I wasn’t snooping, he told me he had a paper in there I had to sign.

It broke my heart, a little, to see him so grown up, but yet still so young.

His father and I have had “the talk” about the different life spans of regular humans and those of us who are vampires.

I know the girl. Her name is Amber. She always kisses our cats when she comes over with the usual pack of teens for swim parties and study groups. She played Olivia to his Orsino in the school production of The Twelfth Night.

He let her go so she could date another boy, a boy who isn’t him, a boy she won’t fall in love with.

I see him through his bedroom, black skinny jeans, hair in his eyes, skyping with friends, laughing. A normal sixteen year old by anyone’s standards.

First published July, 2012

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Wrong Number

This is a story from 2014. On this cold rainy night I thought it was worth telling again.

This isn’t a tall tale or something from the mysterious paranormal or gothic side of life.

It is just a story of something sort of sad.

It isn’t even my story. It is the story of someone who is alone. We think this person is alone. We don’t know for sure. It is a mystery.

It is a story of missed connections.

I didn’t make this up.

Smart phones don’t always reflect the situation of the people who are calling them. When we get a new phone number more likely than not somebody else had that number before we did. Or our number is close to another more popular number. When I first go my cell phone number about 12 years ago I kept getting calls from people speaking Spanish and Chinese. I got calls for a bakery. I got calls for a tire store.

My daughter has been getting calls from a local mental hospital. They are looking for a man named Thomas. He needs to pick up a patient who is only called by a number. No name. Just a number. This has been going on for two weeks.

If we were in a movie or a novel Clara, Garrett her 17-year-old brother and their friend Randy would go to the mental hospital and get the mysterious patient only known by a number. Then they’d have a strange and wild adventure and it would all wrap up after a lot of violence and car chases. But this isn’t a movie or a book.

Unfortunately the mystery isn’t unfolding. It is just a sad situation. Somebody is at a mental hospital for teens and adults. Someone is alone. So alone. They need a ride and the only number the hospital has is the wrong number which belongs to the phone of a 14-year-old girl. Nobody seems interested in finding the correct number or perhaps a different contact. Isn’t anyone talking to the patient only known by a number? Clara has spoken to people at the hospital explaining the situation but she keeps getting calls for asking for the mysterious Thomas.

This mysterious phone number (with the prefix of 666) also receives calls for a young woman I’ll call M. These are also sad and weird. M missed a court date. The parole officer is pissed off to no end. M deals drugs.  M owes everyone money. M is a go between for drug deals. M has an ex-boyfriend who is looking for her. M is a train wreck. M gets a lot of phone calls. I’ve heard these phone messages too. It is not a life I’d want to be part of or want my children to be part of. I don’t even want M to be part of it. It is an unfortunate life full of bad choices that nobody should be part of.

It is strange and sad that by accident we have seen into sad lives of people we will never meet. We don’t know anyone like M. We don’t know who Thomas is. We don’t know who the person is who needs to be picked up. We never will know. Clara has told the callers that they have called the wrong number. That is all she can do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman