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

 

 

Sickening Sweet and Predictable

“If you bring out that wonderful pink box most children will gather around. When you open it, bursting with two dozen donuts in at least eight different variations, you expect the children to be delighted. You’ll be surprised to see the faces look in scorn at the sprinkled cake donuts, the apple sweet rolls, the bear claws, and the French curls. Except for a few of the children, they all want puffy sickening sweet and predictable plain glazed donuts.

Those are the same children who will visit another home and tell their friends, “That isn’t the way we do it at OUR house.” At school, rather than listen and learn, they will scorn others for opinions and customs different than their own narrow experiences. Their world is their own home, their classroom, their family, and their street. They have no used for anything outside of that world. Surprisingly these children are often the most aggressive and popular in there schools.”

The Demon took a long thin clawed finger and drew a circle in the sand. His skin was a grayish green, his eyes yellow with deep black pupils that never dilated, and his face a collection of sharp angles that could have been both handsome and disturbing at the same time. As with his companion his leathery wings were folded and tucked close to his back. His tail was wrapped around out of the way.

His companion, a smaller female Demon was the palest of grayish yellow – almost white. Her long white hair was in a braid and hung over her shoulder down the front. Olive green eyes looked back at the male demon who was her teacher.

She blinked sand out of her eyes. “So those are the ones we hit on first, the ones who have narrow singular minds. We go after those who do not see beyond their own three for four doors?”

“Yes.”

A young couple passed by them. He was tall with brown curly hair twisted up in a knot on the top of his head. She was shorter and blonde. They both wore sweaters and walked with their arms around each other.

“What about them? Let’s take them,” said the pale female Demon.

“No. It has been tried. They were not the children who only take the glazed donuts. They were children who from a young age have sought out the world from a different point of view. They were encouraged to be curious. They are cynical and skeptical. They are creative. They are curious. They ask questions. Most of all they are not followers.”

“Isn’t that exactly what we want?”

“Of course it is, but we haven’t been able to tempt them. They are on the high ground so to speak. They question everything. They weigh right and wrong. Their moral compass is too hight for us.”

“But wouldn’t you think that the children who are protected and not exposed will be the least susceptible to our charms?”

“Exactly the opposite. We paint a beautiful picture for them. We suggest that the world is an ugly place that is against them. We can tempt them. We can tempt the selfish and the self absorbed. We can tempt those with small views of the world. We can tempt both those who have seen too much and those who have seen nothing. Those two are the easier recruits.”

“But what about those two walking on the beach?”

“They can’t be touched. They’re hard in their minds but their hearts are pure. They will analyze everything. They’re not religious but they are self righteous. Worst of all they’ll think we’re stupid, or worse funny.”

The female Demon rolled her shoulders then stretched out her wings. “But they can’t see us as we are.”

“No they can’t,” said the male.

Anyone walking by would see a young couple sitting in the sand, not that unlike the the couple walking along the beach.  She looked pretty and pale like a cartoon princess. He was handsome in a hipster sort of way. People who walked along the beach smiled at them. Their tiny red sharp toothed demon pet who the female had on a leash looked like an adorable beagle mix.

“We can fool some of them,” said the male, “but not everyone, and it isn’t always the ones you expect. Even some of the good ones will still pick out the glazed donuts. You just never know.”

As the young couple in the warm sweaters who walked arm in arm walked back to their car they glanced at the attractive seated couple who sat in the sand with their dog. The dog barked and the woman told it to be quiet.

The young man held his girlfriend’s arm a little tighter, “I get a bad vibe off of those two.”

“I do too,” said the young woman. “I don’t know what it is. They kind of creep me out.”

“You wanna get coffee? There’s a great little bakery not far from here.”

“That would be great,” she said. “A raspberry filled scone sounds great right now.”

The Demons watched the couple as they walked to their car.

The male Demon shuttered. “They gave me a strange warm cozy vibe. I feel kind of sick.”

“Me too,” said the female. “You wanna get breakfast?”

“Sure. They mentioned the bakery around the corner. Let’s not go there.”

The wind kicked up and blew sand across the beach covering up the cloven prints and tiny claw tracks left behind.

 

 

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

Halloween is Almost Here (more musings and random thoughts)

Halloween is almost here

Ghosts and Goblins yell and cheer,

Witches drink their Bat Eye Beer

Halloween is almost here.

 

halloween cat 3

 

At the crack of dawn this morning, actually about an hour before, I looked out on my deck to find two ghosts holding coffee mugs and savoring the first stirrings of the woodland creatures who live in my yard and behind my house (along with the sounds of fire truck sirens, trucks and a random dog bark or two.) I watched my translucent friends put their heads together in close conversation, occasionally laughing or using hand gestures.

These ghosts have discarded any old ideas of white sheets and hollow eyed wails. They leave that for others. Sure they can haunt the crap out of anyone and show their form in death (a rather violent image, especially for the one called Mary) but they usually choose not to.

He has pale skin and dark, almost black glossy hair that layers around his face. She has long reddish brown hair that she lets blow in the ghostly winds that most of us can’t feel.

If it was any other pair of ghosts I would have chased them off, but these two are mine. At least mine because they live in my space. I usually don’t like ghosts or anything without a body, but there are always exceptions.

I didn’t interfere with their reveries. I’d pick up the cups later. That is the empty cups they fill with their phantom coffee. I had other things on my mind.

Earlier my husband Teddy had come home with a scratch across his handsome face. Three scratches from fingernails to be exact and bites in various places.

He’d been called to see about a rare pocket watch a client of his was looking for. When he arrived at the old Victorian he discovered that the apartment was below street level (the original street level.)

The door was answered by a woman of shocking appearance. She was bloated like a dead thing that had been out in the sun. Her eyes were sunken and rimmed with pale pinkish red. Despite her bony frame the fashionable black dress she wore strained at the seams. White blonde hair tangled around her face. Blood caked around the corners of her mouth and on the cuticles of her fingernails.

He recognized her, barely. In 1934 he’d spent two weeks with her on Catalina Island. People thought she was a film star with her Jean Harlow looks and beautiful clothes. So much for happy memories.

She told him that now she fed on transients and outcasts who wouldn’t be missed. Rather than taking a pint or a quart here and there she sucked them dry. Nobody would miss them or care. It always looked like natural causes anyway. Then she’d sleep it off for a week or two and start again.

Teddy, being the man he is and a Vampire with a social conscience tried to tell her that what she was doing was not acceptable. Bad move Teddy. She attacked him, screeching that she never asked to be a Vampire. She didn’t choose that life. She had become isolated as those she preyed upon.

As she fled into the night  The young man who made the nicely decorated basement apartment at home was in a deep sleep. He wasn’t someone off the grid but someone who’d left his bedroom window open and a Vampire climbed in. Teddy had the decency to erase any bad memories the young man might have had. Then Teddy called a Vampire Hunter to take care of his old friend. Teddy didn’t have the stomach to do it himself.

We talked about it for a while and like so many things it just seemed sad. Too many things seem sad.

Halloween is almost here but we’re already up to our eyeballs in scary shit, including a school shooting scare and other stupid stuff.

But then again like all families we’re busy to the point where we can’t stop and even think about anything much. It is like this all the time. Halloween brings a flood of activity. A party at my house on Friday. A party on Saturday. A skate meet on Sunday. A dozen other things including school and work are squeezed in between. Then we start all over again.

But I’ll make it a point to stop and sip my coffee and watch the sunrise.  And tomorrow we’ll carve those pumpkins I’ve been gathering on my front porch!

 

Halloween is almost here

Werewolves howling is so near,

Zombie looking for his ear,

Halloween is almost here.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

halloween3

 

 

This little adventure was first posted here in 2014. I’ll be back with new stories and adventures shortly.  

Space, Crazy Circus Music and A Perfect Seventy-Eight Degrees

Space, Crazy Circus Music and A Perfect Seventy-Eight Degrees

I  was going to dive into to my Friday post but my brain is under attack by such noise, I can hardly explain…

I’m in the roller rink for Friday practice. All the skaters are doing beautiful thing with their dance and artistic routines. And yes, any comments about derby will be removed. Anyway, the music today is especially bad. It sounds like an old-fashioned circus. I expect Emmet Kelly and a band of clowns and elephants and dancing bears on skates to come flooding out of the back room any minute.

Dude, dancing bears. I have this poster in my house. The real one.

Dude, dancing bears. I have this poster in my house. The real one.

When we arrived the music (on a circus organ) was “Morning After, ” in some sort of polka or maybe fox trot or even an upbeat cha cha beat. Yes, that song, the one Debbie Boon sang to in the original Poseidon Adventure (1972 with Gene Hackman and Shelly Winters.) Imagine that song upbeat and in a crazy circus organ out of American Horror Story, or worse a Stephen King novel, or more like, well, an alternate or parallel universe. Holy crap this record is bad. No wonder young skaters aren’t joining the sport. Thank goodness the only thing with the old organ music is the American Dance. Yes, boys and girls, this is why your sport isn’t in the Olympics yet. It isn’t the skating – it is the music. Hell upside down. Now a version of “The Stripper” is playing that I have no words to describe. This is the Muzak they play in Hell.

poseidon_adventure_ver2_xlg

OK, back to our previously programmed blog post…

My sixteen year old Clara was talking about the Universe and space earlier today. She can’t get her mind around the fact that the Universe is expanding. But where is it expanding to? Where it come from? What was before the big bang, and before then, and before then? Then she told me about someone who created a photo of the entire Milk Way using millions of images of the Milky Way. It is all mind-boggling.

Then consider the fact that we’re looking at flickering stars billions of miles away. Then consider that someone might be out there looking back at our flickering star (the Sun) and wondering if anyone is out there. Think about it.

It is almost too much to get your brain around. We know so little about our own solar neighborhood. Only in the past hundred years have we managed to fly, and communicate with wires, then wirelessly, then we got cat memes. Actually cat memes aren’t new. But back to space, please.

Pre 1920 Cat Meme. Seriously, I kid you not. Cat memes aren't new. People have been creating them since ancient times. Think about it.

Pre 1920 Cat Meme. Cat memes aren’t new. People have been creating cute cat drawings and memes since ancient times.

Where was I? Oh right, physics, super colliders, and even some quantum physics. Stay with me. This isn’t leading anywhere, but stay with me.

I mentioned to my child that I’d read somewhere that some scientists thought they might be able to get to a parallel universe. The headline was, “Large Hadron Collider ‘Could Be About To Find A Parallel Universe.” Look it up. And if you ever get the chance to visit a Super Collider DO IT. I have and it is super interesting.

So the child asked me what exactly again was a parallel universe.

From Wikipedia: A parallel universe is a hypothetical self-contained separate reality co-existing with one’s own. A specific group of parallel universes is called a “multiverse”, although this term can also be used to describe the possible parallel universes that constitute reality.

Yes, you can be two places at once.

Or as they say in Firesign Theater How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All.

Or another bit I swiped off of the Internet, “But, according to quantum mechanics, microscopic systems can be in two or more places at the same time, a principle called superposition (also called quantum weirdness – no explanation needed). Atoms and electrons can be in two places at once.”

I explained it the best I could in the best mom terms I could. It made more sense than what I’m writing here, but then again, when I’m driving in my car I’m not listening to crazy insane circus organ skate music.

What I didn’t explain to my daughter or anyone else, was that I had been in that somewhere else parallel universe – recently.

Then our conversation changed a bit.

“Being a Vampire is like living in a parallel universe. Tell me again why we can’t let anyone know about us?” My daughter has asked me this a lot.

“Because darling child, we must let them think they are on the top of the food chain. You know what they do to their own kind who are different. You know about the Vampire Hunters. You know the history.”

She shrugged and told me about her English class. Then we listened to music.

My mind went back to the night before.

I was in bed, my arms and legs wrapped around my husband, or I thought it was my husband. I assumed it was my husband. I was hot. I don’t think I’d ever been so hot.

We both opened our eyes at the same time.

“Juliette?” I knew the voice but it wasn’t my husband.

“Pleasant?” It was indeed my old flame Pleasant Van Dusen and he was burning hot. Not burning hot as in that kind of burning hot, but temperature wise hot.

Remember we’re Vampires and run at a cool 78 degrees farenheit. He was burning up at 98.5 degrees give or take a few.

He gave me a weak smile. “Happy Birthday honey.” Then he wiped the sweat off of his forehead. “What is going on? I can’t cool down.”

I rolled away from him. We were naked. Oh my goodness. The room looked unfamiliar but it was in a style that we both would have picked out. Modern with a touch of 80’s – and I mean 1880’s.

“My heart feels like it is beating out of my chest. Feel it.” He said this as he grabbed my hand and put it on his chest.

“It feels like a regular person Pleasant. It feels like…oh my God. Sit up. Look in the mirror.”

We sat up and looked at the mirror on the wall across from the bed. Our images showed up sharp and clear. We both smiled, uncomfortable grins. No fangs. Hot skin. Hearts beating fast. No fangs.

“Dear God, Pleasant, we aren’t Vampires anymore.”

“No. Juliette no.” The panic in his voice was frightening. Pleasant never panicked.

We’d been transformed. Both of us had been Vampires from the day we were born as rare Vampire babies but now…now…now…we were not.

And we were together. The rings on our left fingers matched in design. A portrait of our wedding was on the night table. We gazed out the window. Two moons. That could only mean one thing – an alternate universe.

I got out of bed. Pulling on a pink silk robe (I would have never chosen pink), I opened the bedroom door. Then everything grew dark. Next I opened my eyes and I was back in bed, my arms wrapped around my husband Teddy. He was a cool 78, exactly like a healthy Vampire should be. I was exactly with the man I should have been with.

My phone vibrated. I answered. It was Pleasant. “Are you a Vampire Juliette?”

“Yes. You?”

“Yes, are you with your husband?”

“Yes, are you with your wife?”

“Yes. What happened?”

“Alternate or parallel universe. We must have hit some sort of time warp or black hole, or I don’t know.”

“Are you cold.”

“Yes, thank goodness. You?”

“Yes, I’m cool.”

“Juliette, I gotta go. I’ll call you.”

“Sure, take care. Be careful.”

“You too. You too Juliette.”

And that was it. We were one of them if only for a moment. It was life as it would have been if we’d been regular “normal” people. But we aren’t.

I didn’t tell my child. I had no idea if our Regular Human versions ended up in our beds with our spouses. I didn’t ask. I don’t want to know.

I feel hot.

I feel hot.

 

I’ll continue to talk science with my kids. We will continue to speculate. But sometimes, just sometimes, it is good not to mention those time warps that happen when we least expect it.

So I guess, the only thing to say is to stay curious, stay cautious, and stay cool. And that my friends is the only point to this story.

And like I always say, take with your kids. Talk with them. Explore with them. Discuss with them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted in October 2015. My kids are now away in college and are not doing competitive skating anymore, but I still talk to them ALL THE TIME. Well that, and send them funny texts every single day.

Businessmen, Handsome Gen X

Cut and Color Spooky Halloween Fun from Juliette aka Vampire Maman

After yesterday’s post with the wonderful art of Jason Kemp, I thought I’d entertain you today with some of my own pen scratchings. Just for fun.

Halloween is almost here so to get you in the mood here are some color-and-cut Halloween paper dolls I drew a while back. I’ll have a few new spooky paper pals in October.

Ghost Party

Ghostie Fashion Paper Doll. Color an Cut Fun.

Ghostie Fashion Paper Doll. Color an Cut Fun.

Punkin Heads

punkin-heads

punkin-heads suits

punkin-heads suits 1

Werewolf and Mermaid

h_creatures

h_creatures_evening

h_creatures_magic

Zombie Girl

zombie_girl doll

z_girl

z_girl 2

Alien Girl

space girl

alein togs 1 alein togs 2

Have fun,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Parent Chaperones Behaving Badly (Or How YOU Need to BEHAVE on Your Child’s Field Trips)

Parent Chaperones Behaving Badly (Or How YOU Need to BEHAVE on Your Child’s Field Trips)

I’ll make this quick, because we all know parents (and I’m one of them) don’t have a lot of time.

If you have K-12 children you know they are going to go on field trips. If they go on field trips you know parents are going to be asked to go along as chaperones. You know that one day YOU will be asked to be a chaperone.

When you arrive to the location of the field trip you might have a guide to take the children on a tour, or to give them some sort of lesson or demonstration, or help with an activity.

Your field trip host might be a park ranger, a docent, or some sort of other adult helper. 90% of the time this guide/docent/helper will be a VOLUNTEER. By volunteer I mean someone who has freely given their time to spend their time teaching something to YOUR CHILD.

As a PARENT on these trips, be it a historic park, an art museum, a factory tour, or a science center, YOU need to do your part to make it a good experience for everyone.

Yes, being a chaperone is fun because you get to go someplace and take a day off from work. Fun fun fun. You also have responsibilities. Those responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the kids from acting like wild animals (including your child)
  • Encouraging the children to stay together
  • Encouraging the children to get along
  • Making sure the children pay attention to the guides/docents/teachers
  • Making sure the children are engaged
  • Making sure ALL of the children feel included in activities

YES that is YOUR JOB. 

  • Also… remember these trips are for the KIDS.
  • Don’t take over activities. If a guide/docent has a question for the CHILDREN let the CHILDREN answer it.
  • Be nice. Don’t be rude to guides or docents. Like I said, they are volunteers. They are doing this without pay. They are doing the best they can. If you’re an asshole it will just take away from the experience of the kids.
  • Don’t use tour time as a way to catch up with other parents. Watch for kids who are wandering off. And YOU are not allowed to wander off. Stay with the children. Stay engaged.
  • Don’t spend all of the time with YOUR CHILD. As a chaperone you have agreed to be with ALL of the kids in your group. Don’t wander off with your kid on a tour. It distracts the other children. It distracts the guide/docent. It distracts the other parents. Plus it is just rude.
  • Listen to the guide/docent and help the children follow the rules. It will make a safer tour and guarantee everyone will have a fun experience.
  • Don’t be an asshole.
  • Don’t look bored. Kids will pick up on that. Like I said, don’t be an asshole.
  • Do a little bit of research before you go on the field trip so you can discuss it with your child and the other kids in the group. There is a wonderful thing called the INTERNET. You can get all kinds of information about EVERYTHING including the location of your field trip.
  • Make sure kids get snacks before the tour or activity. Hungry kids don’t pay attention and tend the fidget. The same goes for bathrooms breaks. Make sure every has gone to the potty before the tour or activity.
  • Yes, you’re the adult. You’re a parent. That is your job when you volunteer as a chaperone.

Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be known as a good parent. Everyone wants to be asked back. Nobody wants a bad reputation. Follow my guidelines and you’ll be the coolest field trip chaperone in the class. I guarantee it.

That’s it. Simple rules. Be the adult you are. Your kids will than you for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman