A Special Kind of Magic – Parenting in the Pandemic – Empty Nest Version

When I started writing this blog in 2012 one of my kids was in high school, and the other was in middle school. This was more or less a middle school parenting blog. Then the rest of my family crept into it. The old folks, my brothers, and even my parents. Then friends started to slip in through the cracks. No matter what parenting was always at the core of it all.

On of my kids finished up graduate school at the beginning of the pandemic. Now in the middle of the pandemic my daughter sent in her graduate school applications today. I read some of the letters of recommendation from several esteemed professors and people in her field. I was blown over.

This is the child I took to Black Veil Brides concerts. This is the girl who shocked the horrible middle school PE Bitch teacher with her stylish outfits that DID NOT break the dress code rules. This is the kid who struggled with algebra and ended up taking a series of upper division statistics and economics classes at a top university and getting almost all A’s. Yes, this is the kid who never got below a B in college. This is the kid who inspired me to write about glitter, glue slugs, and Emo music, and growing pains.

These are the kids had tough conversations with about school shootings, and death, and losing, and caring, and unconditional love, and failure, and reputation, and about being an asshole.

My daughter hasn’t been in a classroom since last March. She’ll graduate and never meet most of her upper division professors or classmates in person. She has asked for and received letters of recommendation from professors, and a boss she has never met in person. She has impressed others with her presentations and discussion points but never in person.

Both of my young adults would love to live life in person. Wouldn’t we all. Sure we go to the post office, and the grocery store, but not to schools, or museums, or coffee houses with friends. I guess we could sit outside the coffee houses, sometimes, if there is seating and not too many people are there.

My dog misses the days we’d spend outside at the local coffee house. At our usual table I’d write or read. My giant do would stretch out over the walk way and thump her tail at anyone walking by. I’d have water and treats for her. I’d pretend she was as smart and well behaved as she looks.

Now Garrett, who is 24 is living in the Hollywood Hills, housesitting until the middle of next year, working from home, and working on starting his own business with his best buddy Randy. Neither one of them has a girlfriend right now which is weird but a nice break for Randy’s mom and me. We’ve seen a lot of broken hearts with our sons. I’ve found a lot of love letters in the laundry.

Clara and her boyfriend (both 21) will be getting their own place in January. They’re both seniors in college, but will never set foot in an undergraduate classroom as students again. Their roommates are getting weird. Everyone is getting weird. They’ll save money and time. It just makes sense. Yes, if you’d told me this would be what we’re talking about today in 2012 I would have said NO WAY.

I’m serious about parenting but I’m pretty chill too. It isn’t just a Vampire thing. It is a parenting thing. Seriously, you have to be chill. You have to listen. You have to change with the times as a parent. As parents we are leading the way and we can’t do it blindly using rules from the 1970’s.

My kids are stressed. I’m chill on the outside but going nuts inside.

Clara, her boyfriend of four years, and his orange kitten all came up this week. It was a surprise. It was a 450 mile drive. They’ll go back on Thursday and return before Christmas. They just needed a quiet safe place to finish their finals and graduate school applications. Their homes didn’t provide that right now. Maybe two years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem but right now it is. I just want them to be able to finish school without any additional stress.

Yesterday Clara and I went out. I had on a red jacket and a red mask with a cat print on it. She wore a black sweater with a black mask with a cat print on it. That wasn’t planned. We just do that – always dressing almost the same or in the same colors. It has been going on since before middle school. It just happens. It is a special kind of mother/daughter magic.

So yes, I write about Vampires, but it is really all about my kids and everyone else I love.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind. Hug your dogs and cats. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help or those who are alone. And of course, if you get a chance, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Appreciation

Kids don’t always appreciate what you do, or what you have, or what others do for them because they don’t have the life experience to appreciate anything. They don’t know a world where they don’t have their parents or others doing things for them. They don’t know a life without the nice home or community they live in. They’ll appreciate it all when they get older – often with a big helping of guilt. Yes, as a parent that is frustrating as hell, but just keep drilling in the the appreciation message and eventually they’ll understand and appreciate.

Yes, one day they will appreciate all of the time you spent with them, just being you, and letting them just be themselves. Believe me, they will.

That does not mean to allow your children to be selfish brats. Keep drilling into their little brains that they must be polite, be kind, appreciate what others do for them, say thank you, do nice things for other, and be a decent human being. Nobody likes a brat – tell your kids that. They’ll listen to them when you tell them people don’t like selfish brats, or general stupidity. Seriously, it works. It might take a bit to sink in but it works. Like I always say TALK to your kids. Don’t just say NO. Really talk to them and have those conversations about appreciation and behavior.

This, of course, brings us around to talking about 2020. Yes, it is a weird year. It is an exceptionally weird year. There have been a lot of weird years but this one takes the cake/pie or whatever for most people.

So appreciate that cake or pie. Appreciate everything good in your life. Right, easy for you to say you might be thinking right now. No it isn’t easy for me to say. But I’ve lived a long time and know what it is to be down in dark places where, well, believe me, it was bad.

Another thing to teach your kids (children and adult children) is to learn from their mistakes. If they can learn then they’ll appreciate their own actions and what they can do for themselves. Allow them to know they can be empowered to do the right thing and change bad situations.

Covid-19 lockdowns are hard for everyone, but especially young people. They’re so social and being cut off from friends and from meeting new friends is hard. They’re in college, or trade school, or working and now that is all up in the air from one day to the next, with them never knowing if they’ll have any good prospects or opportunities. Now is an easy time to just want to give up.

Keep up the encouragement. Not hollow “hopes and prayers” kind of encouragement, but real encouragement. Be there for them to talk about it. LISTEN to their fears. Don’t discount their fears and concerns. This is real. This is their reality. Yet, it is still a time to look for appreciation for what is going right. It is also time for hope and love.

It is also a time for winter walks and a lot of mind clearing. Speaking of winter walks, there were wild turkeys in my driveway this morning and it was so cold we could see their breath. Take a walk. See their birds, or the city streets, or even just the sky.

Later today I’ll have more holiday/Christmas stuff. Keep checking back for more new posts and favorites from the past.

And as always… Wear a mask. Stay safe. Social distance. Talk to your kids. Listen to your kids. Check in on those who might be alone or need extra help. Be kind. Appreciate the good things and good people in your life. And kiss a Vampire.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Exploring the Wonders

Exploring the Wonders

They grow

And explore

The wonders

Of the universe

If we let them.

Then they explore

The wonders of

their hearts

and imagination.

 

All children should be allowed to explore, beyond the world of their parents. We should be their guides, but give them the freedom to take that extra step to discover something new. If your child learns something new 9 times out of 10 you’ll learn something new.

Listen and learn from your child. You’ll know what they learned in school and what they did after school. You’ll know about their friends. You’ll know about those who aren’t so friendly to them. They keys to talk to them, talk with them and listen to them. Never take a one world answer. Make them talk. They’ll thank you for it later.

The sun is just coming up over horizon and the sky is turning pale gray and whites and blues. It is that strange in-between time for just about most creatures. Werewolves are turning back into their own skin. Vampires are thinking of going to sleep. Regular folks are getting up for work. This is my time to write when all is quiet. Quiet is a rare thing for a mom.

Summer is in full swing and I wonder how my kids will remember their childhood and teen years.  I hope that the memories they take with them are of the times we spent together talking and just being together. I hope the memories will be of ideas and discussions.

I hope those ideas and discussions will never end.

 

  • Talk to your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay safe
  • Don’t be a dick (be nice)
  • Science is real
  • Check on those who are old or at risk. Summer is hot. The pandemic is real. Make sure everyone is OK.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

Stop just for 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

sunset heart

First published here June 2015

Deliberate Parenting

The main message of this blog aside from don’t be a dick  is to be a deliberate parent.

Since 2012 I’ve been blogging about parenting. Now my children are grown and they’ve turned out to be amazing, capable, and independent adults. I am so proud of them. I am beyond the moon and back proud of them.

Please, if you’re parent read this, consider what I have to say, and if you like pass it on. Every family is different. Every child is different. But all children deserve parents who take them seriously.

 

Deliberate Parenting

Don’t parent with your eyes closed. Don’t wake up surprised one day when it is too late.

I raised my kids deliberately. I raised them not to be bully bait.

I raised them to be confident. I raised them to fly with their own wings and pursue their own interests.

I raised them to think.

I raised them to see the big picture.

I raised them not to be stupid or sheltered.

I raised them to question what they hear and see – even if they see and hear it from me.

I raised them to realize that one day they’ll have to make it on their own and that they’ll have to fight tooth and claw.

They know how to come to their own conclusions.

They know that reputation is everything.

They know that being fair and good and standing up for what is right and good is everything.

They’ll be far better people than I will ever be.

They aren’t perfect, but at least they have a chance.

I don’t always agree with them but at least we discuss it and as a parent I have the last word, period.

And they still cuddle with me and need me. We’ll always have fun.

Don’t parent by accident. Do it deliberately.

I’ll say it is important for your Vampire kid, but it is important for all kids, even Werewolves and especially regular human kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

motherandchild

Space, Crazy Circus Music and A Perfect Seventy-Eight Degrees

Space, Crazy Circus Music and A Perfect Seventy-Eight Degrees

I  was going to dive into to my Friday post but my brain is under attack by such noise, I can hardly explain…

I’m in the roller rink for Friday practice. All the skaters are doing beautiful thing with their dance and artistic routines. And yes, any comments about derby will be removed. Anyway, the music today is especially bad. It sounds like an old-fashioned circus. I expect Emmet Kelly and a band of clowns and elephants and dancing bears on skates to come flooding out of the back room any minute.

Dude, dancing bears. I have this poster in my house. The real one.

Dude, dancing bears. I have this poster in my house. The real one.

When we arrived the music (on a circus organ) was “Morning After, ” in some sort of polka or maybe fox trot or even an upbeat cha cha beat. Yes, that song, the one Debbie Boon sang to in the original Poseidon Adventure (1972 with Gene Hackman and Shelly Winters.) Imagine that song upbeat and in a crazy circus organ out of American Horror Story, or worse a Stephen King novel, or more like, well, an alternate or parallel universe. Holy crap this record is bad. No wonder young skaters aren’t joining the sport. Thank goodness the only thing with the old organ music is the American Dance. Yes, boys and girls, this is why your sport isn’t in the Olympics yet. It isn’t the skating – it is the music. Hell upside down. Now a version of “The Stripper” is playing that I have no words to describe. This is the Muzak they play in Hell.

poseidon_adventure_ver2_xlg

OK, back to our previously programmed blog post…

My sixteen year old Clara was talking about the Universe and space earlier today. She can’t get her mind around the fact that the Universe is expanding. But where is it expanding to? Where it come from? What was before the big bang, and before then, and before then? Then she told me about someone who created a photo of the entire Milk Way using millions of images of the Milky Way. It is all mind-boggling.

Then consider the fact that we’re looking at flickering stars billions of miles away. Then consider that someone might be out there looking back at our flickering star (the Sun) and wondering if anyone is out there. Think about it.

It is almost too much to get your brain around. We know so little about our own solar neighborhood. Only in the past hundred years have we managed to fly, and communicate with wires, then wirelessly, then we got cat memes. Actually cat memes aren’t new. But back to space, please.

Pre 1920 Cat Meme. Seriously, I kid you not. Cat memes aren't new. People have been creating them since ancient times. Think about it.

Pre 1920 Cat Meme. Cat memes aren’t new. People have been creating cute cat drawings and memes since ancient times.

Where was I? Oh right, physics, super colliders, and even some quantum physics. Stay with me. This isn’t leading anywhere, but stay with me.

I mentioned to my child that I’d read somewhere that some scientists thought they might be able to get to a parallel universe. The headline was, “Large Hadron Collider ‘Could Be About To Find A Parallel Universe.” Look it up. And if you ever get the chance to visit a Super Collider DO IT. I have and it is super interesting.

So the child asked me what exactly again was a parallel universe.

From Wikipedia: A parallel universe is a hypothetical self-contained separate reality co-existing with one’s own. A specific group of parallel universes is called a “multiverse”, although this term can also be used to describe the possible parallel universes that constitute reality.

Yes, you can be two places at once.

Or as they say in Firesign Theater How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All.

Or another bit I swiped off of the Internet, “But, according to quantum mechanics, microscopic systems can be in two or more places at the same time, a principle called superposition (also called quantum weirdness – no explanation needed). Atoms and electrons can be in two places at once.”

I explained it the best I could in the best mom terms I could. It made more sense than what I’m writing here, but then again, when I’m driving in my car I’m not listening to crazy insane circus organ skate music.

What I didn’t explain to my daughter or anyone else, was that I had been in that somewhere else parallel universe – recently.

Then our conversation changed a bit.

“Being a Vampire is like living in a parallel universe. Tell me again why we can’t let anyone know about us?” My daughter has asked me this a lot.

“Because darling child, we must let them think they are on the top of the food chain. You know what they do to their own kind who are different. You know about the Vampire Hunters. You know the history.”

She shrugged and told me about her English class. Then we listened to music.

My mind went back to the night before.

I was in bed, my arms and legs wrapped around my husband, or I thought it was my husband. I assumed it was my husband. I was hot. I don’t think I’d ever been so hot.

We both opened our eyes at the same time.

“Juliette?” I knew the voice but it wasn’t my husband.

“Pleasant?” It was indeed my old flame Pleasant Van Dusen and he was burning hot. Not burning hot as in that kind of burning hot, but temperature wise hot.

Remember we’re Vampires and run at a cool 78 degrees farenheit. He was burning up at 98.5 degrees give or take a few.

He gave me a weak smile. “Happy Birthday honey.” Then he wiped the sweat off of his forehead. “What is going on? I can’t cool down.”

I rolled away from him. We were naked. Oh my goodness. The room looked unfamiliar but it was in a style that we both would have picked out. Modern with a touch of 80’s – and I mean 1880’s.

“My heart feels like it is beating out of my chest. Feel it.” He said this as he grabbed my hand and put it on his chest.

“It feels like a regular person Pleasant. It feels like…oh my God. Sit up. Look in the mirror.”

We sat up and looked at the mirror on the wall across from the bed. Our images showed up sharp and clear. We both smiled, uncomfortable grins. No fangs. Hot skin. Hearts beating fast. No fangs.

“Dear God, Pleasant, we aren’t Vampires anymore.”

“No. Juliette no.” The panic in his voice was frightening. Pleasant never panicked.

We’d been transformed. Both of us had been Vampires from the day we were born as rare Vampire babies but now…now…now…we were not.

And we were together. The rings on our left fingers matched in design. A portrait of our wedding was on the night table. We gazed out the window. Two moons. That could only mean one thing – an alternate universe.

I got out of bed. Pulling on a pink silk robe (I would have never chosen pink), I opened the bedroom door. Then everything grew dark. Next I opened my eyes and I was back in bed, my arms wrapped around my husband Teddy. He was a cool 78, exactly like a healthy Vampire should be. I was exactly with the man I should have been with.

My phone vibrated. I answered. It was Pleasant. “Are you a Vampire Juliette?”

“Yes. You?”

“Yes, are you with your husband?”

“Yes, are you with your wife?”

“Yes. What happened?”

“Alternate or parallel universe. We must have hit some sort of time warp or black hole, or I don’t know.”

“Are you cold.”

“Yes, thank goodness. You?”

“Yes, I’m cool.”

“Juliette, I gotta go. I’ll call you.”

“Sure, take care. Be careful.”

“You too. You too Juliette.”

And that was it. We were one of them if only for a moment. It was life as it would have been if we’d been regular “normal” people. But we aren’t.

I didn’t tell my child. I had no idea if our Regular Human versions ended up in our beds with our spouses. I didn’t ask. I don’t want to know.

I feel hot.

I feel hot.

 

I’ll continue to talk science with my kids. We will continue to speculate. But sometimes, just sometimes, it is good not to mention those time warps that happen when we least expect it.

So I guess, the only thing to say is to stay curious, stay cautious, and stay cool. And that my friends is the only point to this story.

And like I always say, take with your kids. Talk with them. Explore with them. Discuss with them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted in October 2015. My kids are now away in college and are not doing competitive skating anymore, but I still talk to them ALL THE TIME. Well that, and send them funny texts every single day.

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