I just dropped the tired teen off at school for the SAT test. On the way her brother wished her good luck via text. I told her I was proud. She pointed out friends in front of the school.

In the school parking lot someone in a huge truck almost hit me – twice. Fortunately he did not hit me, thereby giving me the opportunity to use my impressive mastery of cuss words.

The APUSH test was yesterday (Advanced Placement US History.)

So let’s think deep and profound thoughts about all of this testing. The SAT test theoretically determine almost everything about a teen’s future. A score could determine what college a child gets into. That could then determine a major. It could determine who your teen’s life long friends will be. It could determine who your child will meet in college and maybe marry. It would determine their future passions and careers. It will determine future happiness and success. It could determine everything.

Or it could just be yet another test. But not really.

Teens aren’t going out with their friends. They are studying for AP tests, SAT tests, and ACT tests. They’re doing three to six hours of homework a day. I’m not talking about what we used to call “red hots.” I’m talking about average kids, or slightly above average kids.

I know all of the teens today will do well. Most will be in the bottom half of the top half, or maybe a little better. That is ok. That will get them into a good school.

But for their parents it was easier. Their parents could easily get into the University of California. Now that seems almost impossible, even to the most academically gifted children.

I don’t see any of these kids as average. They’re all unique and way above average. And most of them aren’t driven by their parents, but by their own determination.

Don’t put down the youngest of Millennials, those born in 1998 and 1999. They’re bright and determined. They’re ready to sacrifice their free time, their hanging out time, their silly time, to study. They’re willing to sacrifice their teen fun for something that is almost as illusive and impossible as finding a unicorn – admission into a good college.

This time next year these same teens will be waiting for yes or no letters from colleges. Many will be going to the local community colleges with their hopes still set on schools like Stanford, Davis, or Berkeley, or even Chico and Sac State.

Getting into college shouldn’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible, especially for bright and determined teens. They’re our future. They’re our legacy. We need to appreciate their sacrifices and the sacrifices they face in the future.

These kids aren’t entitled. They’re impressive. They’re also funny, and thoughtful. As parents we need to be proud. And we need to let them know we’re proud.


~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman


Keep Calm We're Teens

And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for Short Story Sunday and the usual paranormal Vampire fun and nonsense. 


vampire teens




Standardized testing and the value of the GREAT TEACHER

How was school?

I’m a mom so I have to ask.

Clara started the infamous STAR Testing this week for the 8th grade. STAR Testing is the State of California’s Standardized Testing and Results which measures how schools are doing. There is some value in these tests but generally it confuses the hell out of most parents, kids and maybe even the teachers. My kids’ schools rank high (very high) but I sometimes wonder about the real value here.

There are some school that spend all year studying for these tests. That is ALL they do. They even cherry pick the kids who will be in the school in order to get high scores (and surprise, the schools with what they call average kids of all different levels, like my children’s schools,  get scores that are just as high or higher (yes, higher). Go eat THAT for lunch with your snob sandwich.)

Fortunately my children go to schools where the administration is wise enough to not spend all of their time studying for tests. They don’t put that unwelcome and uncomfortable pressure on kids. All kids at these schools have the opportunity for a great education. They study for life, learning, thinking and discovery.

YES – LIFE, LEARNING, THINKING and DISCOVERY. And more amazing – at public schools!

So back to our discussion in the car…

Real HistoryClara: We did history and math today. The math was easy. The history was confusing. They asked us about a lot of Roman Empire stuff we didn’t even learn in class. I’d never even heard of half the people they asked questions about.

Me: I’m sure you did ok. You can usually figure out the answers by just thinking about the clues. That’s why I always win trivia games. I don’t know the answers but I can put together the clues and usually come up with a right answer.

Clara: I know.

Me: Multiple choice tests can’t measure what you know or how smart you are. I believe you learn more from history the way your teacher teaches it. It isn’t all about memorizing dates and names and locations of battles. History is about learning how people lived, what motivated them, what inspired them, why they did what they did. It is about learning about our past so we can understand our future. You’re so lucky to have Mr. R for a teacher.

Clara: I won’t miss most of the kids when I go on to high school, but I’ll miss the teachers. Mind if I play my music?

I know she’ll miss the kids, but we’ll all miss the teachers who have inspired the Middle School kids. Each one of these young teens will enter High School knowing they hold the keys to knowledge and discovery in their own hearts and minds. They are our future, and they know the lessons of the past. They’ll never forget their amazing Middle School teachers.

So students (young and old, for we are all lifetime learners), your assignment for today is to appreciate the great teachers in our lives. Teachers shape the future through inspiring our kids.

And get plenty of sleep because STAR testing is ALL WEEK.

Parents: Your job here is to get involved. Schools with a high rate of parent involvement have a higher rate of high scores and a higher rate of graduation. And don’t use the excuse that you are busy. Most of the parents I know (moms and dads) work full time AND are involved.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

This post is dedicated to the memory of Ralph Todd, who was a great teacher and inspired so many at American River College. You truly loved your students and inspired so many and changed so many lives for the better. And nobody had a sense of humor like yours! We love you and miss you!