Let them fly

In the past I frequently blogged about teaching your children to be independent because one day they’d be like little birds and fly.

I discovered that my children are not like little birds. They’re like hawks and eagles. They’re raptors.

They are fierce and strong with the majesty of those who soar the sky, taking ownership of all they see.

On the other hand they’re like otters. They always make me laugh.

They’re like dogs who are always loyal, brave, and always there with a kiss.

Like cats they can keep a secret. And like cats they don’t put up with bullshit.

So they fly like the great birds of the sky but they know they always have a place to come home to. No matter where I am it will always be home. My nest will always be warm and safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

red shoulder hawk

The red shoulder hawk who lives behind my house.

Short Story Sunday: A Werewolf’s Train to Nowhere

In honor of last night’s full moon…

A Werewolf’s Train To Nowhere

 Right after I’d graduated from college (the first time) from one of the rare Universities (now a well respected and famous school) that accepted women I took a trip across country on a train to meet my brother Val. He’d gone to New York City without me, leaving me, a young woman, unescorted. I would have done fine on my own but back then, in 1881 young women, even Vampires, didn’t travel alone.

I got on the train on a dark full moon night and made my way to my car. I was to share a car with several other students and some sort of chaperone. What I found was three young men dressed in rather garish suits of the latest fashion (or so they thought) and nobody else. Two had short beards, again, the style of the time. I recognized one from school. The train started to move. There was no getting off. OK I could have jumped, but I was in a long dress with a bustle no less and jumping wasn’t a practical option. Contrary to popular belief I couldn’t turn myself into a bat and fly away. So I stayed. They were horrible the entire time making crude jokes and being as vulgar as they could be. They insulted me for being a Vampire, calling me dead and cold and well, they were vulgar to say the least. I was in Hell and ready to get off of the train.

I sat took claim to a settee with a small table and tried to ignore my garishly dressed companions. A young woman climbed aboard and the three men cheered. She was dressed as garish as they were in the most stylish of gowns but it was a bright orange color with brown beaded trim. Her hair was as orange as the dress and piled high on her head. That included a lot of fake hair to go along with her real hair.

She eyed me up and down. “Who invited the Vampire?”

“I’m Juliette,” I said to the Werewolf girl. Holy crap I’d been stuck for a cross-country trip with four Werewolves. Every muscle and bone on my body tightened up. I wanted to scream. Instead I just kept my place in my corner while my companions made as much noise as they could laughing out loud and of course the alcohol and drugs came out. Of course.

Just as the parting whistle blew the door opened again and in stepped my friend Pierce. Finally, another Vampire had arrived, and a strong protective one at that. His father owned the train car and I didn’t even put the two together. Pierce was a friend of my brothers Max and Andy. At age 28 (born in 1848) he was the oldest of our group. We made quite a contrast in our highly fashionable yet subdued attire compared to the flamboyant brightly dressed Werewolves. We were also a lot quieter.

The Werewolf girl who was named Phoebe gave Pierce a long hard look then smiled and licked her lips. Pierce is attractive with a narrow face, a sensuous mouth and dark heavily lashed eyes. Of course she noticed him. She’d no doubt try to have his clothes off, have her way with him then tear his throat out. Well, maybe not, but I didn’t want him to get her claws into a friend who was almost like a brother to me.

The males were Luke, Seth and Eldon. I’ll never forget their names. They were rude and loud and young. Had they been Vampires I might have thought they were fun, but since they were Werewolves I thought they were disgusting. Phoebe was just as bad with her crude laugh and dirty jokes.

Pierce and I played cards and stood on the back of the train in the night air. We mostly talked. I asked him about people we knew who’d gone out into the world – the young Vampires we’d grown up with. Pierce was on his way to New York. I was on my way to New York as well to meet my brother Valentine. After that we’d board a ship to London.

Conversations with the Werewolves were in bits and pieces of insults and crude jokes. Pierce’s father did business with their families. To keep the peace and keep favors in check he’d offered to let the young adults of the pack to ride with us. Also, by being with Vampires the Werewolves were more likely to behave themselves. At least that is what everyone thought.

On the second night, after a half of case of Champagne, the young Werewolf men, Luke, Seth and Eldon stripped naked right in front of us and said they were going out for a run. Phoebe decided to stay in. They ran out and I could hear them up on the roof of the train car howling, then down a side ladder and they were gone. Phoebe sat by the window looking at the full moon. She’d taken off her jacket and bodice down to a short-sleeved lace covered blouse. Long dark hair sprouted on her arms and hands. Her fingers grew claw like. Fur grew down the side of her face. She ignored us as a low growl came to the back of her throat as she watched for her pack mates.

Peirce and I watched three huge wolves run along the side of the train. The moonlight reflected off of their silvery gray fur. They were beautiful.

Then we heard horrifically loud shots. Our fellow passengers a few cars down were shooting at the wolves. Pierce ran out of the car. I could hear him shouting for the men with the guns to stop. Phoebe started to scream and scream and scream.

The next day we heard news of three young men found dead by the side of the tracks. The story was they had been drinking and had a fight on the top of the train and fell off after shooting each other.

I will never forget holding Phoebe in my arms and rocking her, trying to tell her that everything would be alright. I knew it would never be alright but I said it anyway.

For the next week as we made our way across the country she’d howl mournfully at night. The passengers said the train was haunted. I knew they’d brought on their own ghosts when they killed the wolves for no reason.

Werewolves and Vampires are predators but even we don’t partake in the senseless of killing animals for no reason other than target practice.

Pierce and I related the story to others but over the years we’ve kept a lot of the details to ourselves. It seems like so long ago. It was a long time ago. A long long time ago.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Transitions

When I started this blog I was working full time for an organization outside of my home. My brain and the rest of my time was filled with Middle School and High School activities. I spent more time with my brothers. The canine love of my life was in her prime.

I couldn’t imagine having grown children.

Now everyone is in college. We discuss school but I’m not that involved, except to be a cheerleader, a therapist when needed, an entertaining distraction, and the one who pays for everything. Jasmine the white sled dog has gone over the rainbow bridge – her ashes sit in a box among old photographs. My cats are still here. A new dog Alice, a large goofy GSD is now in my life. I work alone at home. I rarely see anyone, except ghosts, and my ancient family members who welcome my visits, which need to be more frequent.

The sports and the activities have trickled off to almost nothing. I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere. I am alone here with a house full of books and animals.

Then again new activities call me. There is the art museum. There is my art. There are books in the works. There are walls to be painted. There are funny stories to tell.

And if I muse into melancholy madness Nigel the ghost will show up and kick my ass so I’d better move on.

We all change and evolve. That is part of being on this strange, horrible, and wonderful planet. We are trapped here so we need to be fluid. We need to keep evolving no matter how old or young we are. Growth never ends.

I find myself telling my kids not to judge others for what they do or the choices they make. Not all young people have it as good as they do. They don’t have someone helping them pay for school and everything else. They don’t have someone who is there 24/7 to listen. They don’t have someone who doesn’t judge them or question their every move. They have a safety net. Not everyone has that so their choices can’t be judged. I urge everyone to understand the choices of others.

There is no clear path. Five year plans are wonderful until a tornado hits your house, or someone you love dies, or you get sick, or the economy crashes, or your heart gets broken. So you take another road, or climb out of another window, or up another tree, or make where you are a better place. You add more books to your shelves and make an effort to call your friends, and your mom.

Parenting adults is tricky because they don’t want to listen, they need you to listen more than anything in the world, and they start to parent their own parents.

Yes, they do all of that.

It is scary. More scary that a pack of zombies banging at your back door. You can deal with zombies. You don’t love them. They just make a mess. But dealing with your kids, no matter how easy and wonderful they are, is always a challenge.

Dealing with Zombies: Shot gun. Flame thrower. Pissed off Vampires.

Dealing with Adult Children: Listening. Worrying. Loving. Worrying. Listening. Loving. Laughing. Learning to let them be adults. Learning not to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

Everything will be alright.

With your kids, and with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

 

 

Memories, Parenting, Shared Stories, and Growing Up

My daughter turned nineteen yesterday. That now means I’m officially a parent of those who are exclusively adults.

With the kids in my life getting older it beings back a flood of memories from the time I was a little bit older than two years, to my childhood, and somewhat embarrassing and adventure filled young adulthood.

I hope that all adults, especially those with children, and I mean children of any age, can remember way back when. I don’t mean like those memes you see on Facebook that say “When I was a kid we jumped off of cliffs, played with guns and live hand grenades, went swimming in snake infested rivers, stayed out until dark, exclusively dined on fried food and sugar, and put our hands into garbage disposals, used chain saws unattended, and we’re still alive. Kids these days are spoiled assholes.”

Having children brings up random memories. Sometimes these are fearful. Sometimes they bring a sigh of relief because your child is not doing the same thing as you did. Sometimes they are happy, or bittersweet because of a time you loved that will never be again.

Yesterday I thought about how I waited on the front porch of our house with my mother and my brother Valentine as we watched my three older brothers walking off to school. They were fourteen, thirteen, and nine. Val was almost five. I was almost four. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to go to school. Val was silent on the issue. He’d already started to read on his own and had no plans on going to school. Not ever. He never told my parents so he missed his opportunity to be an exclusive self learner. I didn’t learn to read until I was six and didn’t master it until I was about eight.

I thought about how much I like my daughter’s boyfriend, and my son’s girlfriend.

And the most random memory came into my head. I dated a guy named Orin once who was nice. He had a dog who was nice and a nice sense of humor. His home was nice. What wasn’t so nice was the fact that his sister lived with him. Gertrude seemed nice at first despite the fact that she was loud and exceptionally out spoken. But then it got weird.

Wherever I went with Orin Gertrude would be there. When Gertrude would talk Orin would stop whatever he was doing and give her a dreamy look. Gertrude was the expert in everything and he would defer to her on everything. She monopolized every conversation. Eventually everything we did was what Orin and Gertrude wanted to do. In fact that only reason I think I was around was because Orin didn’t want to have sex with his sister. She already had dibs on all of the other girlfriend functions. It was like dating married man who brought his wife along, only weirder. So the last time I saw him I invited him for cocktails. I said we could do something afterwords. A few nights before I told him that I was bothered that Gertrude, or Gertrude and her boyfriend were always along. I wanted some time with just him. He brought Gertrude along. As we sipped our drinks Gertrude talked and Owen gave her dreamy looks and said nothing out of his goofy love stuck smile. I left after I was finished with my drink and never saw him again.

I’ve told that story to my kids. They think it is exceptionally creepy. Siblings are great. Just not like Owen and Gertrude.

This morning my daughter Clara and her boyfriend left for a camping trip on the north coast. I thought of a camping trip long ago with my friend Amelia.

I was living in Sacramento. Amelia was living in Las Vegas. So we met half way in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, where the highest mountains in the lower 48 are. We were at Devil’s Post Pile, an amazing geological formation. As we set up our tents I heard seals. This was great. Last time I went camping on the beach we heard seals too.

I said to Amelia, “Do you hear the seals?”

She said, “Those are mules.”

Then I remembered we were three hundred miles from the ocean, and in the mountains.

I’ll attribute my memory fade to a four-hour drive in my sports car with the top down. Brain bake. Or maybe it was just me, because sometimes I’m like that.

Amelia is still in Las Vegas being fabulous. I’m still living near Sacramento.

Amelia and I are still having adventures. I heard the seals, aka mules, years before I ever had children. Now Amelia and I have grown daughters. I think our hearing is a lot better now. Parenthood will do that to you.

By the way, I haven’t heard seals in the mountains since then.

I was also with Amelia on my 19th birthday one hundred and forty years ago, but I won’t tell that story today.

In both storytelling and parenting use what you know. Use the truths from you experiences to teach your children. Entertain them with your stupid stories so maybe their stupid stories won’t be so stupid.

We all connect through our stories. Our stories make us who we are. They are something we can share at no cost, except maybe a little embarrassment.

I love to listen to stories and memories others have to share. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting around a campfire, strolling through a museum, or hanging out at home. What matters is that we listen with open minds, open hearts, and a sense of humor. And add in some love.

Yes, even Vampires, despite the misinformation out there about us, know about love. We know a lot about love – and stories. So be like a Vampire and tell your story and collect stories from others. You’ll thank me for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

vm darling girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savor the Summer. They’re growing up but they still need us.

Summer is officially here. It isn’t June 21 yet, but it is hot, summer school starts today, and I’m juggling a new season of activities. Yes, all of you parents out there, parenting does not end when your kids turn 18. It just goes into a different universe. For me that has been a nice mellow universe.

My son’s best friend Randy came over this morning. He has grown up since I started this blog from a funny skinny kid with long blonde hair and a fondness for orange plaid, to a gown man with broad shoulders, a man bun, and still a unique sense of style.

Being an adult Vampire is easy in college. Students live in close quarters. There are parties every night. The bar scene is big for the over 21 crowd. But unlike creepy Vampires in a lot of fiction, one can’t stay in college forever, even if you still look like a college student.

You never want someone to tell you “Bruce Springsteen’s song Glory Days was written about you.” Never. Believe me, you NEVER want anyone to say or even think that. Even if you’re not a Vampire you never want anyone to say that.

Randy sad down with me over coffee and we talked about his life. He is working for my brother Aaron this summer to see if he might like to work in a law office.

“I’m excited about my last year of college, but being a Vampire. Like, we’re supposed to be on top of things, but going out there in the big world, maybe to a place where there might not be a lot of us is kind of scary.”

“It can be scary,” I said. “But you won’t be alone. You’re family, you’re community, all of us are here for you.”

“I know. The worst part is not knowing if I’ll always look like I do not, or if I’ll end up aging out to my 30’s.”

“Don’t worry about it. Your parents aged out in their late twenties. I bet you will to.”

“I don’t want to look twenty-one forever. Well, twenty-two in August.”

We talked for a bit more when my son Garrett showed up with new hiking boots and a bag full of hair products. Ah, my well-rounded son.

 

I love the fact that no matter how old my children’s friends get, they will always be welcome in my home. I will always be there for them to talk, and for a hug when needed.

Nobody at any stage of life, be it Middle School, or the seasoned 457 year old Vampire knows what the future will bring. We all need support from teacher other at all stages of life. Like I’ve said before, our kids learn from us, and we can learn from them.

The key is just to be there for each other. And rather than rush to judgment, and throw them in the pool before they learn to swim, we need to let them go their own pace and test the waters, and know we’re here if they need a rope.

Summer is here. We’ll be taking some short trips to the beach and the woods. We’ll be going to the book stores and taking the dog out more. We’ll be talking a lot, and laughing, and learning, and savoring our time together until the boys have to go back for their last year of college.

Have a great week everyone, and savor your time with those you love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Transition

Parenting is a job you never retire from but those little people grow up.

They grow up and, well, they’re grown. You’re still a parent but your children are adults. In theory they’re adults. They’re eighteen or older, but they’re not quite adults yet.

They’re not like the teens still in high school either.

And you’re still a parent.

I’m spending a lot more time with this girl now.

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Alice the GSD is two years old now. She is the new family dog. We lost our sweet Jasmine three years ago after twelve years. She was the dog the kids grew up with. She was the dog who grabbed our hearts and souls like no other.

But Alice is the personification of sweetness and love. Now she is my shadow. She is the one who now goes everywhere with me. She is my constant companion.

But back to non-dog creatures…

It is difficult to write about parenting now because everything changes. Some parents tell their kids to move out as soon as they turn eighteen (I think those kind of parents are assholes.) Some kids never leave and are content to live in their childhood bedroom with the single bed and posters on the walls and have mom make grilled cheese for them forever (in that case the kids are assholes.)

Most kids I know are somewhere in the middle. They’re going to college or trade schools, or working, or volunteering. Many are stressing out over how they’re going to pay for school or cars or rent.

A few are stupid and now are finding themselves with minimum wage jobs and babies on the way, but those aren’t the ones I’m writing about today. That is a subject I’m not even going to touch because I’d be mean, judgmental, and make people cry.

But for the most part most kids are growing up, and it is like learning to swim or ride a bicycle. They all do it on their own terms, in their own time, but they know they have to do it. Sink or swim. Fall off and get back on.

They’re having their first serious relationships. They’re falling in love. They’re angry because they are evaluating their childhoods and judging their parents. They’re discovering people who aren’t like them. They’re doing wonderful things and exploring their worlds. They plan trips without us. They working. They’re voting. They’re pulling away. They’re turning around and letting us (parents) know they still need us.

Since the beginning I’ve written about letting your little birds fly. Soon the only ones left in my nest will be a couple of cats, a dog, a husband, and empty bedrooms for when my babies come home for visits.

I miss my children so much. But I rejoice and treasure the adults I’ve raised. I’d never go back if given the choice to have them small again. I have one more year and another one will be miles away on the other end of a very large state.

So where does that leave us as parents?

You have to let go. At the same time you still need to be there 24/7 in case they still need you.

There will also be changes. They’ll pull away. Hopefully they’ll pull away some because that is part of growing up. But hopefully they’ll stay close.

Like I’ve been saying forever – just keep talking with them. Let them know their thoughts are important. Let them know you understand their fears, and if you don’t understand, then listen but don’t judge. Remember when you were young. I swear I don’t want mine to be like I was, but rather than jumping all over their young butts I encourage them, and again talk to them. And it isn’t like they’re never going to do something weird, but you just have to take it one thing at a time.

No matter what they’ll be, and who they want to be. They’ll be who they need to be. Learn from your mistakes when helping them learn not to make those same mistakes.

I’m just talking and musing today. The the best parent you can be so your kids will be the best they can be.

I know this is simplistic but it seems to work.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman