The Night Belongs to Us

The night belongs to us. Of course it does. We’re Vampires. But we’re also parents, and this is a first and foremost a parenting blog.

My main message is to talk with your kids, share with them, listen to them, teach them, respect them, treasure them. Don’t spoil them except with love and knowledge. Open the world to them and they will explore on their own. They will bring their discoveries and knowledge back to you. The circle is complete.

This morning my 16-year-old Clara showed me a new cover by the band Night Riots.  Let me back up a little bit since some of you may have never heard of Night Riots. I feel like they are one of the best bands out in the past thirty years. Seriously, I like this band that much. My daughter started listening to them. Then I did. I was hooked. We saw them at Warped Tour this summer in Mountain View, CA.

Night Riots Vans Warped Tour 2015 Mountain View, CA

Night Riots, Vans Warped Tour 2015
Mountain View, CA

 

So this morning I received a text from Clara (while I was out on business) saying they’d done a cover of “Because the Night.”

When I arrived home I Clara was excited to share it with me. I listened to the Night Riots version. It was great. Wow.

I asked Clara if she’d heard the Patti Smith version. She said, “I didn’t know it was written by a woman.”

Of course it was. By Patti Smith, who is still singing. Patti Smith is, well, Patti Smith. Need I say more?

She loved the Patti Smith version too.

Her first comment was, “I love her voice. It isn’t whiney.”

Clara doesn’t listen to female pop stars for the most part. Neither do I. So many are breathy or have fake auto tuned voices. They don’t sound real. They sound childish. They sound annoying.

Patti Smith is none of that. She sings. She really sings.

So the guys in Night Riots do justice to her music by putting out a fantastic cover.

I’m not sharing this so much as a music post, but as a parenting post. We share with each other. We learn from each other.

We discussed musical influences from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Not disco crap or silly really bad pop music, but real music that lasts.

Just like real parenting lasts. Real communication lasts. Deliberate parenting lasts a lifetime. If you’re going to have kids then put in the effort. Make them yours. Let them make you theirs.

Yes, let your kids make you theirs. They learn from you and you mould them. In turn, you can learn from them. Let them make you a better person. Let them open your eyes to new things.

 

 

This Thanksgiving be thankful for the young people in your lives. Don’t spend your time judging or criticizing them. Don’t get after them about their hair, their clothing, their music or whatever stupid superficial thing that you think is important. Listen to them and let them tell you about what they think is important. Find out what their dreams are. Tell them about your dreams. Share your music. Share some turkey. Share some love.

Teens are as precious and important as babies or toddlers. Parenting doesn’t stop at elementary school. Now more than ever they need you. And now more than ever you need them. You might not know it but you need them too. They’ll keep you young. They’ll introduce you to music. They’ll be in awe of your shared knowledge. They respect you for respecting them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Night Riots: Contagious

Things you need to do with your teen

Things you need to do with your teen.

You know right off the bat I’m going to talk about talking with your teen. TALK WITH YOUR TEEN. DO IT. NOW.

 

fruit bat cutie

Right off the bat…

 

Movies you need to see with your teen:

Lost Boys

Click on the movie titles above for information about the movie (and so you’ll see the right movie)

 

Must do things  to do with your teen:

  • Take your teen to a concert. Not something YOU want to see. Not something you THINK will be culturally enriching. Take them to see a band THEY listen to. Go to a smaller venue. Listen to the music before you go. You might like it. You might like it a lot. Click HERE for guidelines. Click HERE too and HERE.

Night Riots at 2015 Warped Tour - Mountain View, CA. Yes, I was there. It was awesome. I am the coolest mom ever.

Night Riots at 2015 Warped Tour – Mountain View, CA. Yes, I was there. It was awesome. I am the coolest mom ever.

  • Take your teen to Van’s Warped Tour. If you’re the parent who buys the ticket you get in free. What a deal. I saw seven bands that I liked. There were dozens more.
Never Shout Never Posters. Go Chris Drew.

Never Shout Never Posters. Go Chris Drew.

  • Take you teen to the an orchestra concert. Even if you don’t have a major Symphony or Philharmonic orchestra in your area, most communities have excellent community groups. Many high schools and colleges have orchestras. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and GO. Yes, this is the cultural education. You’ll have fun.
  • Go to the zoo. Zoos aren’t just for little kids.
  • Take your teen to a vintage clothing store and try stuff on – both of you. Boys and girls. Rock the vintage stuff.
  • Tell your teenager a bad joke every single day. Laugh out loud. Pretty soon they’ll be laughing along with you.
  • By the time our children get to high school and college the family pets are ancient senior citizens. Keep the love going but make sure you are there for your kids when the four-legged members of your family move on. It sucks but it seems like most teens live with ancient pets – well-loved ancient pets.
  • Cook with your teen, even if you’re a Vampire. When they get into college their roommates will love them if they can cook. Everyone loves a good cook.
  • Go for walks at least twice a week. It gives you a chance to talk and spend some quiet time together. No phones.
  • Go to a baseball game. Any team will do – professional, high school, college, T-ball. It is all fun.
  • Go roller skating.

 

Talk to your teen about:

  • Sex (if you aren’t responsible enough to use protection you are not responsible enough to have sex. Sex is normal but just because you are physically able to do it you might not be emotionally ready. High School is a fun time – don’t complicate it with sex. Yes, the conversation is easy. Don’t lecture, just discuss and let them know they can come to you and trust you for good fact based answers)
  • Birth Control (Don’t be silly, cover your Willy. AND ALWAYS use birth control. Even if your kid is not sexually active have this conversation because when they go off to college they WILL become sexually active and they need to know how to be smart about it.)
  • Diet: Eat right. Don’t pack on the pounds with the Starbucks Ultra Thick Carmel Chocolate Mocha Bomb every single day.
  • History: You don’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been. Talk about your history, your Uncle Duff’s history, George Washington, or anything that has happened before the year your child was born. Tell them about the old days before personal computers and copiers and cable TV. Tell them about MTV when they actually played music. Tell them about seeing The Rolling Stones in concert when Keith Richards was hot (they won’t believe you so you’ll have to show them photos.)
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Yes, this is Keith before he died and came back as himself.

 

Watch silly YouTube videos with your teenager.

I suggest:

  • SMOSH Teleporting Fat Guy
  • Anything with cute animals
  • Famous Rap Battles of History
  • Short horror films
  • Make-up tutorials
  • More cute animals
  • Music your teen likes
  • Music you like

 

Alright, that should have filled up your brain and your time. I’ll have more later.

What would you add to the list? What do you and the teens in your life do together? Let us know.

Have fun

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Stop for just a moment…

Children are sensitive souls, even when they are almost grown.

When parents are sorting through their own issues, their teens are stoic for the most part. They turn it all inside. That is when we (parents) need to buck it up and watch and listen.

They need us almost more now than when they were toddlers.

The same goes with marriage. By the time kids are teens life is so crazy and complicated and emotionally turned upside down.

We are all so busy and stressed that it just gets overwhelming.

I always say TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I still say that. But today I have another chant for you. Talk with your spouse/partner. Talk to the other parent in the house. This is assuming the other parent is in the house. If he or she is make the time for them, as well as for the kids.

I know you know this. We just need reminders.

Yesterday my brother Aaron stopped by. Aaron and I are the only married siblings of my parent’s brood of five. He was happy that his young adult children were home for a few weeks, but they were off in their own world. His wife Verity was either with the children or working on a thousand things that had nothing to do with him.

I thought about my own household where we were all coming and going at 3,000 mph.

Stop. Talk. Hug. Say I love you.

“Maybe we’re meant to be solitary creatures,” said my brother.

“We all need our time alone. Is everything ok?” I asked.

“Sure. I’m around my family but they’re not really there.”

We talked more. They ARE there but everyone just gets so tied up in everything but each other.

Sometimes both Aaron and I feel alone, yet we know we are both part of something extraordinarily special and amazing. We have spouses and children who are there for us no matter what, and we are there for them. In turn, we are siblings who are so different, yet we are always here for each other.

I get lost in my own thoughts and issues and forget everyone around me. I become like a shadow. I become invisible. Sure, we’re Vampires so we should be invisible for the most part, but not when it comes to those we love. Nor should we make anyone feel invisible.

So your assignment for today: Love and show it. Your heart might not be beating but it doesn’t mean you can’t make someone feel they are valued and needed.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

red heart

Public Service Announcement: http://www.gofundme.com/y32wqw

Learning from mistakes

No need to wax and wane poetically… I was clueless when I was young. I was totally, completely and absolutely clueless. There are large chunks of my younger life that I just try to forget.

But I’m glad I didn’t, not completely, because it has made me a better parent.

Why?

Because I have LEARNED FROM MY MISTAKES.

Everybody, say it out loud, all together: I HAVE LEARNED FROM MY MISTAKES.

So when it comes to raising kids I knew I didn’t want my children to be clueless. I didn’t want them to sputter and flounder and feel utterly hopeless and alone. I didn’t want them to feel like dreams and achieving goals is not a fantasy.

Have you ever had someone in your life that you just want to smack because they keep doing the same stupid things over and over and over? Usually that involves romance or jobs or everything.

No matter who or what you are you can’t continue to live in a la la land and be an immature moron forever. It isn’t cute. It isn’t smart. It isn’t safe.

Sure nobody, including me, does everything right all of the time. We live with all sorts of fears. We have different comfort zones. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

But if you have kids you can give them the tools they need to get a good start in life. Sure they have to make their own mistakes, but don’t you want to send them out in the world prepared knowing they’ll have some support. You are the elder. Yes, forget your age phobia, you should have the wisdom to share and support the youngsters in your life.

My greatest fear is that my children will flounder. A lot of doors used to slam in my face. I have shown my kids that you can kick down those doors. You can go around. You can get in through a window. You can yell FUCK YOU and go to a better door. OK maybe not yell the F bomb but you know what I mean. You can quietly think it – then go kick ass, even if you do it quietly.

If you know a young person all it takes is a kind word. All it takes is sharing a book, a story from your life, a URL to an interesting website, or a little of your time. It makes a difference. A small gesture can make the difference between a young person feeling alone and isolated to feeling empowered and hopeful.

As for romantic mistakes… my advice is GET A CLUE. When it goes bad cut your losses. Alway leave making everyone think it was YOUR CHOICE even when it wasn’t. Move on. Keep an open mind. If the situation is toxic you need to leave. And don’t do it again. No. Don’t. Just don’t.

Another thing I have to mention. Teach your kids to like themselves. They need to embrace who they are. So many kids feel compared to others or compare themselves to other. You know who the others are – those kids who always seems smarter, prettier, stronger, better at everything. But you know, they aren’t all that. They just believe they are smart, pretty, strong and good at stuff.

So, yeah, maybe later I’ll post more pathetic young Juliette stories. It isn’t all that bad. Maybe just to me.

UPDATE: Yesterday I posted about my old dog Jasmine. She is doing a lot better today. She was perky and wagging her tail. Good dog. Thank you everyone for your kind words.

Your assignment for today:

  • Tell your kids to LEARN from their mistakes.
  • Learn from YOUR mistakes.
  • Pass that information on to your children.
  • Hug your kids.
  • Talk with your kids.
  • Love your kids.
  • Don’t be stupid (again.)
  • Hug your dogs and cats.
  • Kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

What my teen and I are talking about today … school testing and politics

What we’re talking about on the way to school: school testing, role models, politics and other important stuff.

The impending 2016 presidential election has come and slapped us full force in the face like springtime allergies. And this isn’t just for adults. Teenagers have a lot of opinions. These are not always their parent’s opinions either – yes, those teenage brains are working (no matter what most parents think.)

Nobody named Clinton or Bush will get my vote. That was from my fifteen year old daughter. She isn’t going to be voting (duh) but she has a good point.

Also from my teen:

  • Who the Hell would name their kid Jeb?
  • Hillary is not a good role model. She stayed with her husband after he cheated on her. I would have burned all of his stuff and left. She only stayed with him for her political career. She hasn’t driven a car since 1996. She has no idea how the average American lives. 
  • All teens hate Michelle Obama because she took all the good food out of the schools.
  • Michelle Obama dresses better than most women in politics. She isn’t frumpy. 
  • Michelle Obama can give “the look.” You know that look of disgust. She gave it to that old fart in Saudi Arabia. She wanted to go to France so she was already pissed. I’d vote for her. She should run for president just because of “the look”. Nobody would cross her. But I think she is done with politics. I bet she can’t wait to get out of the white house. 

I noticed that the teens never talk about the Obama girls. They are just kids who live in the White House and take a lot of trips with their mom. It isn’t like the days when Amy Carter was running around like a wild ferrel child or the Roosevelt children (Teddy) were hauling live animals through the oval office. White House children are kept for the most part from the public eye – as well it should be. That said, most teens I know would love to be invited for a sleep-over at the White House.

Today the juniors and sophomores have more testing. The juniors are testing in English and math. The sophomores are taking science tests. Clara said she feels sorry for the juniors because they have these tests, plus the SAT and ACT tests and a few more.

I mentioned that the test results would just go into another database that will be looked at by people who haven’t been in a classroom since they graduated from high school twenty-five years ago. The data will sit and suck up money. But nobody will ever talk to the students or teachers and ask them what they think of education.

I can see how much my child is learning this year. She is learning A LOT. Her teachers ROCK. I am in awe. Hats off to the sophomore level teachers at Bella Vista High School.

So I said out loud, “Nobody talks to the teachers or students.”

“Exactly,” says my child. Then she said the tests were just made to prove everyone wasn’t stupid or sleeping.

The politicians don’t listen to teachers or students or parents. So rather than spending money for books and science supplies and the arts for kids let’s spend all the money on MORE STUDIES. Hell, while we’re at it lets give all the countless administrators who never talk to teachers, students or parents another raise. Let’s keep teacher pay down so they’ll quit the profession to find other jobs that pay more.

I’ve always felt that Middle School is a big mistake. That is where kids go on a free for all. They are too young to be on their own. The schools are usually too large. They learn every vice in the book and then some. In two years they become completely disengaged from wanting to learn then are spit out into high school. Some kids recover from Middle School but some never do. They’re lost. There again, Middle School teachers need to be allowed to have control over their own classrooms. Throw the administrators overboard and give the teachers control.

We also discussed in the whole religion in school issue. NO. NO. NO. If you want religion in school then send your kid to a private church school. I have my spiritual side but I don’t want it in school. The school population is too diverse. The kids are allowed to meet with their religious groups during breaks and at lunch on their own time. That is enough. So just shut the Efron up about it and get back to your standardized testing.

And you don’t have to be super religious to be a good person. Some of the worst people in the universe claim to live a religious life. F them. They give a lot of good people a bad name. Yes, you know who you are. You’re an asshole. I just had to say that.

Then our conversation went to the sister of a friend who had brain surgery yesterday. She had to drop out of her college classes. She’ll be fine (they didn’t even have to shave her head – good news), but it is incredibly scary for her and her parents. They’re all doing fine but… it is scary. Life is so random and unpredictable.

As I stopped the car at the school a beautiful girl walked by. It was Krazy Kitty. She is pretty and friendly and dresses well – but don’t cross her or she’ll slam your head into the pavement. And you thought Vampires were scary.

There will be a lot of talk in school about the Junior Prom that happened over the weekend. They’ll laugh over silly jokes and funny things they’ll do. They’ll be teens. For the most part that is a good thing. A really good thing.

When you’re a teen you can explore and discover the world in ways that are off-limits once you become an adult. Anything IS possible. Believe me, there is a lot more laughter than there is angst.

I truly believe that the generation of kids who are teens RIGHT NOW will change the world – for the better. 

So that is what we’re talking about today. And remember to talk with your kids. Discuss ideas. Keep your mind open. Let them express themselves. Maybe you’ll learn something.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teenage Jungle

 

 

A Short Public Service Announcement: Talking to your kids is like weight loss.

School has started.

OK now what? I’m hearing parents saying “My kid never talks to me about anything.”

You know, talking to your kids is like losing weight.

If you don’t do anything about it nothing is going to happen.

If you don’t talk to your children they won’t talk to you. If you don’t press them for information and engage them then they won’t talk to you. If you don’t encourage them to talk they won’t talk to you.

Notice how they’ll talk to their peers? Maybe their peers aren’t drilling them. Maybe they’ll just shooting the breeze and having a comfortable silly conversation. Maybe their peers aren’t judging them.

Anyway… that is today’s parenting tip from the woman who can’t get her kids to shut up.

But I’m glad they won’t shut up. I might not be a perfect mom in all ways (God knows I’m not) but we’re a family full of people who talk to each other and share with each other. It started early. It continues today. We make a point of not accepting grunts or one word answers.

Engage your kids. Encourage them to express their thoughts and opinions. LISTEN to them without judgment.

Sure, not all kids are talkers, but monosyllabic answers shouldn’t be the norm.

Don’t tell me you don’t know what to say. Just spit it out. Tell them a funny story. Ask them about their classes. Ask them what they like or don’t like. Discuss the news with them or dinner or your dog. Any subject will do, as long as you attempt to engage them.

Let them know they’re safe expressing their ideas with you. You’ll be glad you did. So will they.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman