The Road More Or Less Traveled

I often hear the expression “the road less traveled.”

I’ve taken that road. I’ve taken side roads off of that road. I’ve wondered in the woods off of what look like animal paths, or the steps of long-lost tribes. I’ve come to dead ends in box canyons and watched the flash floods come in.

Behind me are things that I choose not to think of because they are things that no longer concern me, or need my emotional energy.

With me I have taken the good things that are near and dear to me. I have taken the things that bring me joy, or make me laugh, or that are actually useful. I have taken the love. I have left the hate behind. Forgiveness? Not so much but since I don’t think about it I don’t care.

When we have kids we need to look hard at our own experiences. Yes, we want our kids to explore and learn that life isn’t always easy, but we don’t want to send them off floundering in a stormy sea without a life jacket.

Sometimes we’re all alone, and sometimes we are with those we love. Sometimes we’re with people we don’t love. And with any luck we’ll be on that road with dogs, and others who aren’t exactly like us, but help us keep our calm and sense of meaning.

Over protecting them will only make life more difficult for them. On the other hand, throwing them out to the wolves as soon as they turn eighteen won’t make the strong. It will make them resentful and abandoned.

From the time they are born, until the day you die, you need to learn from your mistakes, so that you might teach them not to make the same mistakes. Don’t let them believe that what was good enough for you is good enough for them.

They are your children. They are your future. They are the future of all of us.

Let them take the road they choose, but at least give them a car that runs, and tell them to change the oil occasionally. They might drive fast, but hopefully not recklessly.

Learn from your own mistakes. Don’t dwell on those mistakes, but teach your children so that they don’t do the same. It isn’t that difficult. All you have to do is talk to them. All you have to do is teach them to be smart. Teach them caution. Teach them to be skeptics. Teach them to do research. And even if your child is not a born leader, teach your child not to be a follower.

The road less traveled is filled with pot holes, but so are all roads. Nothing is smooth. Everyone who has fallen on asphalt knows that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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.

 

 

 

 

Have Some Cake (and Parenting of Course)

In honor of the Grammy’s I was planning on doing a post of the WORST songs ever (Rhiannon, McArthur Park, Spill the Wine, Sylvia’s Mother, Seventeen, That horrible roller skate/key song, The Thong Song, Free Bird, anything featuring Barbara Streisand, Ariana Grande, St. Vincent, or The Doobie Brothers.) I decided to skip it for something not so negative. Musical taste is so subjective.

But it was fun this summer driving across the endless Utah desert with my child, after the air conditioner had failed, listening to the worst songs ever. Let me explain…when a song on the “worst songs of all time” list came on I’d turn it up as part of my daughter’s cultural education. She listened to the entire performance of McArthur Park. I had to explain that the cake out in the rain and finding the recipe was a metaphor for lost love or some bull shit like that, while my seventeen year old child laughed out loud. We both laughed out loud in our 400 degree F car driving along about two hundred miles from the nearest town.

Everything in life isn’t good, no matter how hard you try to put that twist on your child rearing philosophy. At least there are times, like with music, when you can use humor to teach your kid about bad taste, bad judgement, bad fashion, bad friends, bad politics, and all of those weird things that come across our pathway.

Music, like art, literature, and cats, is something you can share with your kids. It brings people together. Stay with me on this because I know a lot of people hate their kids music. At least you can make an effort to understand what they like, and why they like it. Or maybe you can find something new together. Expand your horizons. Take a leap of faith and turn to a different number on the radio dial together. You might hate it. You might love it. But you did it together – with your kid.

Now for the real reason I brought up music. Yesterday I posted a story about a couple of Vampire kids in college called “Why I Hate Valentine’s Day.” Blog traffic was through the roof (because I am the Queen of Love Letters). But NOBODY, not a single person mentioned the reference to a song in the story. Oh come on guys, humor me a little.

And yes, I do love each and every one of you who reads and follows this blog.

OK, here it is. Listen and look for it.

Listen to the next songs too. Have fun even if you don’t like it. Or as your mom would say, “Don’t complain, it’s good for you.” Here are a couple of the best covers ever. Yes, listen to the Vampire – it’s good for you. Don’t complain.

By the way, the band CAKE is from Sacramento, my hometown. We’re a creative kind of place.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Perhaps

 

 

What You Believe

Beliefs that seemed so important to me when I was young don’t seem so important to me now.

I think that applies to most people. We are influenced by our small world of parents and school. Then we go out into the wide world and do stupid things based on our young narrow views. We reject experiences, including love, friendship, career opportunities, education, adventure, fashion, creativity, and so many other things because we’re only twenty years old and set in our ways.

As we get older we start to loosen up and realize that maybe those hard held beliefs don’t fit us. We realize there exceptions to the rules. We realize that we can change those rules and traditions and make them better.

I’ve written about this a lot on my blog, mostly though stories about my friends and family, and my own somewhat crazy experiences. Yes, we learn from our experiences, and from the experiences of others. Heaven help the person (and we all have “that person” in our lives) who never learns from experience and is doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.

A lesson for children is to not let others squash their desire to question what they know. And others will try. As a parent you shouldn’t fear this – if you give your child a good foundation, and most of all TALK WITH YOUR CHILD. Discuss these things. Keep the lines of communication open.

Just from talking to my children I’ve changed my mind and beliefs about some things. Yes, we can, and do learn from our own kids if we are willing to keep our hearts and minds open. It is a wonderful thing.

We move away and retreat from the old ways. At the same time so often, too often, we wonder “what if?”

That said, life does not stop when one grows up. You can keep exploring and having those adventures. You’re grown, not dead. And until you’re dead you can keep living, and changing, and looking at your options.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

moth

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/retreat/

Questions your teens should ask.

As both a Vampire and a parenting expert/blogger I’ve compiled a short list of questions that your teens (both high school and college bound) should ask. I’ve also included a few other statements/requests they need to know. This could apply to both school and life in general. Mostly for life in general.

  • Please don’t ask me to be stupid.
  • Is embracing ignorance required to attend this event?
  • Do you really love me or is it just for tonight?
  • Will it kill you to be nice?
  • Will it kill you to relax?
  • Do you want to try something new?
  • My name is __________. What’s your name?
  • Thank you.
  • Let me help you.
  • May I help you with that?
  • Do you want to talk about it? Let’s get coffee (or go for a walk etc.)
  • Let me drive you home. We can pick up your car in the morning.
  • I’m calling Uber. Do you want to ride with me? We can pick up our cars in the morning.
  • Do you need help?
  • Are you hiring?
  • Would you like to join us?
  • Can I bring anything?
  • Can I help with the dishes?
  • I’m going out for blood. Do you need anything?
  • What part of no don’t you understand?

This is just a short list. Sometimes we all forget that if we don’t ask the question the answer will always be NO. We also forget that we need to speak up for ourselves and for others. It is just that simple. It isn’t always easy, but it is simple.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Why Sex Education Fails – Any Teen Will Tell You

The college aged and high school aged kids in my life wonder why politicians (and others) are so obsessed by the sex lives of others.

They say, “I bet the guys who are passing the oppressive laws against birth control and women’s health, and the LBGT community, partied hard in college, had sex with multiple partners, experimented, then went on with their perfect squeaky clean lives.”

They also say, “If you don’t believe in abortion don’t have one.”

AND most important of all (are you listening blind and stupid politicians) “If everyone had EASY access to birth control, with no limits on age, and no permissions required, then there would be fewer abortions.” 

Yes, if you cut back on birth control then you will never cut back on abortions both legally and illegally.

My daughter was telling me why sex education in high school and middle school didn’t work.

In middle school it didn’t work because one of the parents (ONE) complained. I believe it was a loud woman who donated a lot of money to the school. According to her, she and her child were the center of the universe. The child of course was completely embarrassed when the mother complained about having sex education in school taught by experts. So the embarrassed teachers had to teach the required course.

In high school my kids were taught abstinence only. Welcome to 1816. Yes, time travel is possible and happening right now in a state near you.

Plus the teens were taught be an uncomfortable wood shop teacher who could barely look the students in the eye when he said the word “pregnancy.” The only terms use were highly technical. The students didn’t learn anything about birth control and very little about STDs. Nobody told the teens about anything except the fact that birth control pills existed somewhere out there in the universe. They didn’t learn about all of the other forms, including easy to get over the counter solutions.

If you’re a parent please talk to your kids about sex. It is going to happen. Don’t expect them to wait until they are married. Remember this is 2016 not 1916, and even in 1916 people (a lot of people) had sex outside of marriage.

Get real. Be a real parent and tell your kids about STDs, birth control, relationships, responsibility in relationships. Don’t lecture. Just tell them the facts. Don’t bring religion or politics into it – because it is going to happen.

Tell your kids that sex is a two-way street. Tell them to NEVER do anything they are uncomfortable with. Tell them that if someone says “if you do this I’ll like you,” then don’t do what they want. Relationships are about sharing, not about only one person giving and one person just taking both physically and emotionally over and over and over.

Healthy relationships are responsible relationships. That includes birth control, protection from STDs, honesty, and respect.

Normal relationships and normal sex is not like what kids see in porn. Tell them that too.

Teens should also respect themselves. Tell your kids that it is normal to say NO. Yes, you can say NO, if you don’t want to have sex with someone. You can wait if you want. You can be on your own timeline. No young person should ever be pressured into doing something they are not physically or emotionally ready for.

Sex isn’t just physical. It is emotional. Talk to your kids about that too.

The point of this post isn’t to give teens and young adults permission to sleep around and hook up.

It is about accepting the fact that young people are going to do what young people do. Yes, we hope they will wait until they’re out of high school. We hope they’ll wait for someone they care about. We hope a lot of things. But even if they wait until college, and wait for a super nice and caring partner, they still need to be educated about birth control and protection.

They need to be educated about respect and responsibility.

Don’t be afraid to talk openly and honestly with your kids. If you don’t like abortions then you damn better make sure your daughters and sons are using birth control.

If you don’t like the idea that your young adult children are going to be sexually active one day then maybe you should have just had indoor cats.

If you want your children to be responsible then you have to be responsible parents and teach them about sex, birth control, STDs, relationships, respect, and trust.

That is what young people want and need.

If you ignore something it will not go away.

Those of you who have followed me for the long haul know this is a parenting blog. I talk about being a mom, teens, old folks, and other issues. Sometimes it is in the form of stories about my family or others. Sometimes it is just weird, but it all comes down to relationships we have with each other, and how we live our lives, especially when our children are concerned.

I’ll have the other stuff soon, but this is important. You have to talk to your kids – as a parent that is your job, no matter how uncomfortable you find it – and no matter how uncomfortable your kids find it. DO it. Talk. Now. Today.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman