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

 

 

A Need We Dare Not Admit: Something is missing and that is so very wrong.

 

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I just read that there will be no poet at the Presidential Inauguration today. I see that as an omen to the law of cultural ignorance, and classless ugliness that might follow today. Don’t let that happen. Don’t let us enter into a culture where beauty is only shown as crass visuals, and tacky popular culture. Share your poetry. Share the poetry of others. Show others the joy and power of poetry. Do it now. Do it today. 

FLOOD THE WORLD WITH POETRY TODAY

I’ve said the following before so I will say it again.

A Need We Dare Not Admit

People won’t admit they read poetry and are moved by it…but late at night they go on the internet and search it out. It is like pornography. I’m dead serious (no pun intended). It is a need that most people will not dare admit to.

It isn’t a good time for me to expound upon the history of poetry or what caused the American population (among others) claim not to like poets. But I would like to remind everyone, especially those of us who can remember the past several centuries that there was a time that poets were the Rock Stars of our culture.

Sometimes I pull out my old volumes of favorites and read in the quiet of the night or on a rain soaked day. In turn, I also look for the new. I marvel at the many voices I see with poetry on the internet.

Part of me believes technology with recorded music, radio, TV etc maybe brought an end to the poet as a popular icon. But in turn the Internet, yes the Internet has brought poetry back to life.

I see in the online communities poets being read, not ignored. I don’t read those words online “I don’t like poetry.” I see people who NEVER would read a poem, forwarding poetry to their friends and loved ones.

Poetry is a gift to the soul. Poetry is for everyone. Everyone needs poetry, like a vampire needs blood, like a hawk needs to fly, like a fish needs to swim. I know that wasn’t very poetic but you get the point – I hope.

Your assignment today is to READ, SAVOR and SHARE poetry with someone you love, and especially with someone you don’t.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Living in the Flames

He left her where she fell, without a soul.

When he got home he coughed it up.

Then he watched it form into a wisp

of bitter sludge colored smoke.

Then it vanished,

he assumed into the depths of Hell.

 

 

The child who he’d taken lay sleeping in a bed upstairs.

A small face covered with bruises. A broken arm healed badly. A tiny heart still longing for love and acceptance.

The child would heal and find love. He’d make sure of that.

If those he associated with out in society at large knew what he was they’d call him a fiend, a ghoul, a blood sucking monster and of course, evil. He was satisfied and safe knowing they saw him as the most handsome and charming gentleman they’d ever met. He was a fine upstanding citizen.

Of course he was that, otherwise he would have left the child to be preyed upon again and again by her own kind. She would have been used and cannibalized in the most vile ways imaginable. She would have died inside then her body would have come to a violent end.

He never questioned why, he knew there was no answer to that question. Or more to the point that there was no viable real solution. So he’s just continue to do his best at what he did and help out where he could.

 

 

That was a long time ago. Aside from fashion and technology not much had changed over the years, or so he thought most of the time.

I asked him about it the other day. He said, “Sometimes it is like living in the flames.”

I didn’t ask him exactly what that meant. I didn’t have to.

Upstairs the sound of teenagers laughing and music playing could be heard. He smiled at me and said how much he enjoyed his visits with us. Then we sat and listened to the sounds of the night.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Thoughts on Music, Rock & Roll and Sharing with Your Teens (from the Vampire Mom)

Don’t tell me that you hate your kid’s music. Tell me that you encouraged them to branch out and listen to something new. Tell me that they discovered someone you like too. Tell me that you sang along to a song together. Tell me that you talk about music with your teen.

About Teens and Concerts

I get a lot of traffic on this blog from parents wondering if it is OK to take their kids to a Black Veil Brides concert. Yes, it is. Of course it is LOUD and everyone wears BLACK but the BVB band members give a great show. They also give a safe show. And they have a good message. If your child is under 13 I would not recommend it. Concerts are loud and everyone is packed in. But check out their web site and fan pages  or CLICK here for my article. I’ve taken a lot of teens (mine and friends) to concerts over the years. If you play it safe, check out the band ahead of time, check out the venue, be cool and be safe then it will be fun.

PLEASE DO NOT be an asswipe and drop off your teen young inexperienced teen alone (your under age 17 teen) without a parent or older sibling/friend who can be with them. That is just stupid. Kids get scared and into trouble if you pull shit like that. Remember YOU are the parent (that means you are mature enough to have kids and are responsible for them until they turn 18.)

Go to the concert. Share the music. Have fun even if it kills you. Most smaller venues have places for adults to sit or stand if the kids want to be someplace else. At BIG concerts, like the Fall Out Boy/Panic! at the Disco concert we saw in San Francisco this past fall, you should sit in the stands with your kids (I sat with 8 of them.) It is fun and you can sing along even if you are old.

Black Veil Brides Church of the Wild Ones Tour - Sacramento, CA

Black Veil Brides Church of the Wild Ones Tour – Sacramento, CA

 

 Music Education

There is a lot more to music than what is played on the radio. With YouTube, Pandora and the amazing and old-fashioned but highly successful “Word of Mouth”, kids can learn about thousands of wonderful musicians and musical style options. I am delighted at the variety of music the teens in my life listen to. From Japanese Pop to Alternative Pop Punk to Indie Country to Classical – you’d be surprised what inquisitive teens are listening to and talking about. And yes, we still listen to Weird Al together (the kids and me). Encourage you teens to explore music options.

It is also your job, as an adult, to teach the kids in your life about important music in your life. What did you listen to when you were a teen? What music influences your life? What music made you feel? How did the music of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (or whenever) influence social history and the music the kids are thinking about today?

 

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A few more words…

In my household we have a lot of different kinds of music. My brother Andrew is an opera singer. My husband likes heavy metal and classical and punk. My kids like Punk Pop and Alternative. At the skating rink we hear the old fashioned skate music played on an organ. I like it all. OK, I’ll admit that most people think my own taste in music is weird, but it isn’t (but I’ll keep it to myself for now.)

The key, as with everything, is to talk to your kids, share with them and discuss what you’re all listening to. And for YOU the adults – try listening to something new. You might just like it. I know you will.

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Related Links on Teens, Music and maybe even a little bit of Vampire stuff (it is all entertaining and/or informative.)

 

Have fun,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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California Afternoon, Vampire Guys (again), Parenting and Modern Life

Yellow Flip Flops

Yellow Flip Flops

Michinori waited for his teenage twins in the school parking lot. I waited with him. We also had loads of books to donate for the library book sale (our tax dollars not at work.)

I welcomed the company of an old friend on a Friday afternoon as I waited but… as you know, anytime a male Vampire goes into a public place, especially in the middle of the day he’ll get a lot of looks. They just reek of a certain “you want me now.” I just hoped the librarian’s knees wouldn’t turn to jelly when we brought the books in. I could already hear the women in the office and the female teachers saying, “Michinori is here.” It was worse than someone bringing a box full of 6 week old Lab puppies or cake or anything that pulls you and makes you giddy for absolutely no known reason. You know the feeling.

It was almost as bad as when my brother Max would go up to the school, except Max would intentionally flaunt it. He is so bad that way. He is horrible. When my husband Teddy shows up parent information meetings are packed with mothers of teenagers. It is good for the school but almost embarrassing for me. I should keep smelling salts in my purse for all the swooning.

Even years ago (a long long time ago) when people didn’t mingle the way they do now, women would look at my friend Michinori, feeling shocked that they’d be so attracted to such an exotic gorgeous creature. It was so wrong. No matter what color or background they were drawn to him. Then again he wasn’t just Japanese, he was also a Vampire.

He’d come to California years ago as a teenager, about the same age as our kids are now, to build the railroad and maybe escape his life as a less favored son. He met the 8th daughter of a San Francisco merchant. She was just one of 14 children (split between several dead wives.) They’d seen each other by the edge of the river, a place they both went to get away from the world. It was a world they didn’t feel like they belonged.

And when they met they found that they belonged with each other. It wouldn’t be easy for the dark eyed Japanese boy and the blue eyed American girl of Welsh descent.

They would live in the few places where they might be marginally accepted. Proper men and women shunned them.

Fernando and his friend Michael didn’t shun them. They were also a couple of mixed cultures and of the same sex. They lived a dangerous life with a love that wasn’t accepted by anyone. Both couples were outside of the law and outside of common decency.

Yet, in the circle of friends and family Fernando and Michal had made all were accepted. So they accepted Michinori and Rosalie, who in 1875 became Vampires. And they became my friends.

This was around the time my husband Teddy joined our ranks (another story.)

By 1999 Michinori and Rosalie were no longer seen as an oddity, especially where we lived, they were just another normal couple. That was the year their twins were born. That was the same year my own daughter Clara was born.

So we’re waiting at the school when we start to laugh about some stuff our kids had been talking about…

You know you’re from California when…

  • You know YOLO is a county.
  • You live on a fault line and your house is still worth a million dollars.
  • 65F is considered freezing.
  • Everyone gets excited when it rains.
  • You have flip flop tan lines on your feet year around.
  • You always know where the closest Certified Organic Farmer’s Market is and the price of strawberries.
  • You have a stash of old sheets to throw over your citrus trees in the winter.
  • You’ve never experienced a snow day.
  • You get tired of people from out of state asking you how many times a year you go to Disneyland.
  • Every high school has someone famous on it’s alumni list.
  • You NEVER say “Cali” when you talk about where you live.
  • You’re always within a two hour drive of anything you could ever want to do.

We went on for another 10 or 12 items then heard the final bell. School was out. Word was also out about Michinori being at the school.

Our children have a tight circle of friends at school.  The Vampire kids stick together because they like to be with their own kind. But they had friends of all different kinds. They accept that. Despite all the stupid things going on at their school, I hear there is tolerance that isn’t found at most schools. That is a tolerance for people who are different. You know I don’t even like to use the word different. Lets just call it an acceptance of everyone no matter who or what they are. You like the people you like and love the people you love for who they are inside. We teach our kids to see people for how they act and how they treat others – that is what matters.

That said, those Vampire guys… sigh. They’ll always take advantage of their unique charms but as long as they keep everyone happy I guess that’s ok.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Click here for “Why Vampires Wear Yellow Flip Flops.”

Writing a love letter? Ask a vampire.

 Vampires write love letters tooClara (14): I met a new friend in school today. His name is Alex.

Me (mom): Is he cute?

Clara (big smile): Yes.

High School is full of surprises this year! Well, not really, but that is a good thing. The kids are having so much fun and so far everything is great.

My teens are also doing quite well (so far) at handling the opposite sex.

I can’t say as much for my brother Andrew who is staying with me for a few weeks. I guess, he does handle things in his own over blown old fashioned over the top romantic way.

We (my kids and I) walked into our family room to find Uncle Andy laying on the floor, pen and paper in hand, cat on Andy’s back purring and the dog curled up against his side.

“What are you writing?” I asked, for one never knows with Andy.

“A love letter to Sheena.”

Ah, the new woman he’d met this summer. Not a Vampire but not a sweet young thing either. She was a 50 something professional mom of two college age kids who’d captured his heart. Actually she didn’t capture his heart, he threw it at her. She learned he was a Vampire and was a little freaked out about it, but not so freaked out that she wouldn’t let him stay the night with him. But still freaked out.

None the less, she must be pretty special to get love letters from Andrew, who is always throwing his heart at women.

There had been a couple of Vampire women a over the past two or three years  I seemed to remember.

“What about Teresa? Your Vampire love in New Orleans?” I had to ask because she was so interesting.

Andrew shrugged his shoulders. “She said she was looking for someone more mature.”

“You’re 162 Andy,” I said thinking that my older brother wasn’t that old for a Vampire but he wasn’t exactly young.

My brother sighed. “She wasn’t talking about my age.”

Then he rolled back on his stomach and the cat crawled on his back again. “Help me write this letter. What should I say to my Sheena?”

I thought a minute. “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true. And then while I’m away I’ll write home every day and I’ll send all my loving to you.”

“Say that again…close your eyes and I’ll kiss you. Juliette that is a Beatles song.”

It took a while before the kids stopped laughing. Then they started to throw out ever bad lyric out there.

“Alright copy this down,” I told him. I cleared my throat ceremoniously.

“The first time I met you I felt as if I’d known you forever.  It is as if I’ve loved you forever.  If you don’t want to see me I understand, but please give me a chance to let me show you who I am, what I am and why I love you.

I remember when we were on the beach, dancing under the full moon. I can still feel the brush of your lips on mine, the taste of…” I paused with a sudden thought, one that only Vampires think. “Did you bite her Andy?”

“Yes, but in my defense she didn’t know. She fell asleep. She’ll never know.”

“OK. Just tell her how you feel. Make a couple of rough drafts. Read it aloud. Quote some poetry or a song lyric.”

Teddy (my husband and Andrew’s friend) came downstairs. “Hey children of mine, the results are in from this week’s America’s Got Talent. It more or less sucked.” Teddy then looked at Andrew on the floor. “What are you doing?”

“I’m writing a love letter to Sheena. She needs to know how the full emotional depth of my feelings for her. I just can’t…seem…to get the words down on paper.”

Teddy got the look on his face like he gets with the kids. “Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call her?”

“But…”

“Andy, if you like her, call her.”

“What would I say?”

“Hi. How are you? I’ve been thinking about you? When can we get together? What’s the worst than can happen? She’ll say no and you won’t have to worry about her anymore. She says yes and you’ll get to see her.”

Andy took out his phone and went to kitchen. We could hear him on the phone, “Sheena, it’s Andy.”

They talked for about an hour. I’m sure during that time there must have been about 100 texts from Alex to Clara too.

Like Teddy said, all you have to do is say hello. But you know, a beautifully written love letter never hurts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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If you look up “how to respond to a love letter” on Google you’ll get MY POST FIRST (click here to go there) and if you go to the second choice, and this is what makes me the really cool mom, and I mean really really really cool, you’ll get SMOSH. If you don’t know who SMOSH is they’re a comedy team from my neighborhood who do really fun things on YouTube. And they’re a favorite of my kids. They created one of my favorites the Teleporting Fat Guy. Click here for SMOSH love letters: http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/photos/15-totally-pathetic-love-letters