Don’t bring me your dog… and other parenting stories.

Teddyanddog

I grew up in a household with a lot of pets. I remember one summer when we had two wolfhounds, a medium sized black dog of questionable lineage, three cats, an eighty year old parrot, and a cage full of mice. Outside of the house were three horses. There were also five children. Four boys. One girl.

It was 1867. My brother Aaron, the middle child was the most responsible and serious of the lot. He was eleven at the time, and feeling as if he was living in the shadows of his eldest brothers. He was also tired of feeling responsible for his younger two siblings. The wolfhounds belonged (if they could belong to anyone) to our eldest brother Max. The black dog was the family dog. The three cats belonged to themselves, but spent most of their time with me. The parrot was named Louis and was just there for the summer while it’s owner (Tellias) was traveling.

Anyway, to make a non-story short, one day Aaron came home with a Pug. It was adorable. He’d found out that Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale, two gentlemen who shared a fashionable home and had no wives, had a litter of puppies. Aaron took it upon himself to bring one home without the permission of our parents.

My mother told Aaron to bring the puppy, now named Mercutio, back to Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale. Our father said we had to defer to my mother. He was of no help. So we started to yell loudly that it was so unfair and that we loved Mercutio with all of our cold little Vampire hearts. Max, being the eldest and for some reason my mother’s favorite, put in his opinion that we should keep Mercutio. So my mother gave in. I think the fact that my brother Andy told my mother that Aaron would never forgive her. So we kept Mercutio who was a fine dog and a grand addition to our household.

Fast forward to 2018. We’ve had four dogs since my children were born. We had two dogs when we started to have children. Then we had one dog for 12 years. Now we have one dog. We also have two cats. One dog, two cats. I’ve avoided the never ending revolving door of rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and other small caged creatures.

Before I became a responsible adult, and before my brothers became responsible adults we thought we were responsible enough to have pets. We adopted cats and dogs then after a few years they somehow ended up with our parents. At one time the family home contained six dogs, eight cats, and no children.

Looking back, as a parent, I told my children NO. Don’t bring me pets.

A lot of young adults start to collect pets as soon as they move out of home. Unfortunately shelters are full of these pets. As kids move around, as young adults do, they find themselves unable to keep their animals. That is where the parents come into the picture. Just drop the critters off with Mom. NO.

A dog is a 12-16 year commitment. A cat can live for twenty years or more. I can’t stress enough that having a pet is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for a life – the entire life – of a living creature.

Sure dogs and cats are fun. I love my dog. I love my cats. That said, I don’t want anymore right now. I’m at full capacity. There is delicate social balance. If one of my kids brought in another animal at least one of the cats would start having behavioral problems. The amount of fur in the house would be almost too much for me.

Beside that it is just irresponsible for young adults to start collecting animals. At a time when they need to be able to get out and explore, or move someplace else and find new opportunities, a pack of dogs, or two or three cats will just home them down. And it is unfair for the animals, and unfair for the parents who end up taking the pets in. No animal wants to be re-homed.

And while I’m on the subject of pets…if you or your children adopt any dogs or cats PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Do not let your son equate his dog’s balls with his own balls and is misplaced manhood. It is not the same with dogs as with humans. The only balls your dog needs is tennis balls.

Before your children move out, have that talk about pets. You’ll be glad you did. My parents wish they had.

And that concludes my public service announcement.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Girl with Dog

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

 

Breakfast With Vampires (College Life)

My son Garrett and his roommate Randy (both college students in their 4th year) decided to be “normal” this morning.

Screenshot 2017-10-18 18.56.29

Hey, we’re Vampires. We do do well with carbs and sugar, and most food for that matter. So we’re creative. Everyone should be creative.

Happy October. Happy Parenting. Happy Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

For the first eighteen years parenting is all consuming. Even if you’re not one of those helicopter parents, your job as a parent 24/7.

Then it happens. All your hard work pays off. You’ve raised responsible, well balanced, and lovely young adults.

Now what?

I’m still active but not hovering.

I’m still giving out advice.

I’m trying to be positive.

I’m still teaching them.

And I’m still learning from them.

An old friend recently asked me if I’d talked to my kids about drugs, sex, and other adult trouble. Of course. I started young on those talks. There is no reason to be shy about it. Would you be shy about the dangers of fire or picking up rattle snakes? Of course not, so there is no need to be shy about other potentially dangerous activities.

Excuse me… something just hit the window. I thought it was a bird, then I saw a ghost standing in my backyard flipping me off.

I hate ghosts.

But does he stay outside? No of course not. With a slight hint of sulphur and lavender he materialized next to me, then pulled up a chair and sat. He wore a black suit, white shirt, black tie, with black 80’s Bon Jovi hair. He was as every bit good looking, maybe even more than Jon Bon Jovi, but I didn’t want him in my breakfast nook.

“What are you doing here Nigel? Ghosts haunt people at night, not mid-morning,” I said to him.

“You’re a Vampire so it is only fitting that I haunt you during the day. What bug crawled up your cold ass,” he said without even a hint of a smile.

I tried to ignore him. He flipped my computer around.

“Stop it,” I said pulling it back.

“So how are you doing in this heat wave? Has your body temperature reached 70 yet?”

“Go away.”

“No. I want to talk about your Vampire spawn. They’re all grown up. What are you doing? Getting all empty nest weepy?”

“Shut up Nigel. You never had kids.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do.”

He sat for a few seconds and pouted, then he stood up and walked around for a bit, then came back to me.

“I was young once. I even died young,” said Nigel The Ghost. “My 40th high school reunion is in a few weeks. I’ve been checking in on the reunion meetings. My middle-aged classmates have no idea I’m there but I am. I didn’t even make it to my ten-year reunion. Holy shit. The thing is, Juliette, is that I’ll be young forever, or at least I’ll appear young, when I choose to appear. The only photographs of me are when I was young. But I come by my eternal youth honestly. I died young. You on the other hand are young because of your parasitic nature as a Vampire. Ever think is that? You have no right to talk shit about ghosts when you suck blood out of living people in order to have eternal youth. How fucked up is that?”

“You can go now,” I said, tired of his insults.

“And now you’re all bent out of shape because your kids are leaving the crypt, and you can’t write about their perfect childhood, or your perfect child rearing advice, or your cold little perfect life, or whatever you call it. Are you alive?”

“Nigel,” I said to the ghost in a calm voice. “Don’t ever say I live in a crypt again. And get the fuck out of my house.”

“You’re beautiful when you’re angry,” he said with a mean-spirited grin. “I can imagine you with blood dripping down your chin.”

He knows I never have blood dripping down my chin.

With a flip of his glossy black hair, Nigel started to talk again. He never shuts up. “They were talking about me last night. It made me sad, and angry. You know I was murdered, and I have no idea who killed me. It could have been someone in that room. But it was taken away from me. I could have had a wife and kids. I could have… I could have had gray hair, I could have had a wedding, I could have had a dad bod, I could have sat around with my friends and talked about the good times we had, and people we lost, but they were talking about me and I couldn’t say anything because I’m dead, sure my art is still around but man, it just kills me, and I’m dead, and I will always be dead…and it just sucks. You, maybe not YOU, because you were born the dead way you are, but most Vampires have the choice to be dead. I didn’t have that choice.”

“Could they have seen you if you wanted them to?”

“No. That is the frustrating part. A few could feel a cold breath of air, or a lost memory.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be. You don’t owe me anything.”

Then he put his hand over mine. All I felt was an icy chill. Then he looked into my eyes, and in a wisp of blew smoke he vanished.

I always want to ask Nigel if he was that big of an asshole when he was alive but I never do. I have a feeling he wasn’t. Being a ghost can do that to a person.

A lot of kids are lucky enough to go through childhood without any loss, tragedy, or well, without any bad things happening. Once they turn into adults all bets are off. It seems to start with car accidents, then illness, other accidents, suicide, and even murder. Wrong roads are taken. Bad decisions are made. Bad relationships last too long. Then again, if we all look back we’ll find the good stuff is there. Sometimes it gets hidden, but it is there.   I’m not getting all Sunday School on you. The good stuff is there, even if it is the memory of laughing with old friends, a walk in the cool fall air, or finishing up the best book you ever read.

My kids are out of the crypt. Unfortunately for ghosts they never get out. Don’t be a ghost until you’re dead. Think about it. You couldn’t give better advice to your young adults.

That’s all.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

don't be a ghost

 

 

 

 

Musings and Conversations with my Millennial Vampire

Between my summer road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska (and the great Western US Adventure), and my trip up to Oregon for the total solar eclipse, I spent time with Garrett.

He is my first born, a late millennial Vampire, now a fourth year college student (they no longer use the terms Freshman – Senior.)

One night we sat together on the back deck watching the bats fly around the tops of the trees. The cats were underneath the porch light catching moths.

He changed his major from some sort of Environmental Science to Music Composition with maybe a minor in Film and Media Studies. He has the talent and the drive to be successful. Plus he has the advantage of being a Vampire. And his Uncle Andy (my bro) is musically gifted in astounding ways, and supports Garrett in every way.

Garrett is still interested in Environmental issues, along with fine art, but his heart is in music, as well as his talents.

Sometimes I am in awe of the remarkable young man who appreciates his talents and gifts. He also appreciates those around him.

“My friends and I,” he tells me, “we don’t take our donors for granted. We never take needlessly or aggressively. We’re not into that.”

I’m proud of my modern young Vampire son. He is by no means a pansy assed wimp. He is strong, and smart, and coming into his own powers. He is also kind, and sensitive, and full of humor. He can compose a jazz, or classical piece of music, then a few minutes later write a love letter for a friend, then go watch a science lecture just for the fun of it.

I worry about the future, but then again, I look at my kids and their friends, all new adults, and I’m not so worried.

As parents we need to teach them the knowledge of the past. In turn, they will create the knowledge of the future. Even as they grow older and lead their own lives, we are still parents. Appreciate their success. Don’t dwell on their failures. Enjoy them. Treasure them. Share yourself with them. And know you’ve done a good job (and if you haven’t it is never too late to turn things around.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Maman

 

Lonely Roads (and Vampires and Parenting)

You know you’re a parent when you worry when your twenty year old son listens to Green Day’s Boulvard of Broken Dreams ten times in a row. Then you sit back and realize that earlier that night you were driving along alone in the car singing along to that song because it could have been you. It could have been you when you were twenty. It could have been you tonight, alone, in a car, all by yourself, out of your mom self and back into who you were once a long time ago.

My social butterfly always-in-a-good-mood alpha Vampire son is fine. We all have our set backs and have to listen to songs that maybe don’t make us feel better, but at least validate our feelings.

I’m having empty bat house syndrome. Call it empty nest if you like. We’re Vampires so it is a bat house. It is my house.

As my children become young adults it brings back of flood of memories from when I was a young adult. Most of it is memories of stupidity (mine and that of others), which has greatly influenced how I have raised my children. I’ve raised them not to be stupid. I don’t want them to make the stupid uninformed and totally embarrassing decisions.

I was thinking about this today when Teddy’s old friend Bic showed up. And speaking of stupid.

It was difficult for my husband Teddy when he first became a Vampire. If it was up to me it would have been handled differently, but it was 1876 and I was only sixteen at the time, and it wasn’t up to me to have an opinion on anything.  He didn’t want to become a Vampire. He didn’t know what a Vampire was.

Needless to say Teddy was angry. He was twenty six, already successful at business, engaged to be married to a lovely girl of good standing, and life was good. Then it wasn’t. In fact it wasn’t even life as he knew it anymore – not at all. It was death, then a completely different kind of life, biologically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. It was a different world.

A few years later (I’d since lost contact with him) at a time when he was angry, and feeling betrayed, he made some new friends. They were nice enough, young Vampires like him. They also had issues to deal with and adjustments to make. After a few years of hanging to together they parted ways and moved on with their Vampire lives.

They were the kind of Vampires who let blood drip from their chins and laughed about it. They were the kind who would get some guy drunk and then bring him home and share him among friends, then laugh when he sobered up in fear.

The first time I met them was October of 1889. I went to where Teddy’s house for a party. There she was sitting with two other Vampires with a small, skinny, dirty, pathetic looking child between them. One of the Vampires, a dark haired male looked up. “We found it on the street. It didn’t belong to anyone.”  Doris had blood dripping down the side of her mouth, and on her hands. The front of her dress was dotted with rust colored stains. She said nothing, but just stared at me with those same dull black eyes.

This was the women Teddy had spoken with such admiration. She was a survivor and an old friend. She’d been there with him. For what? In my experience dead girls weren’t of much use.

I walked to the back of the house where another friend of Teddy’s, a Spanish Vampire named Ricardo said, “Teddy said these were his friends. They have a child. A human child.” He was completely disgusted. We stayed together away from the other until Teddy came back, totally and completely oblivious to his less than cultured friends.

The weird thing about Doris was that she was pretty. She always looked like she was barely eighteen, tall with strawberry blonde hair. Her clothes were always in style, and her hair always done, but that never hid the dead vacant look. She was never too careful about showing her fangs, or her way-past-death’s-door-palor.

At one time she’d had children by a man she’d followed into the darkness. She’d become a Vampire along with Bic and a few other friends. She’d had children by one of the men and in turn they became Vampires. The children scattered as she lost interest in them, and soon they were dust – no more as we say in Vampire circles.

I thought they were gone, but every once in a while they come around. Today was one of those days.

Doris looked at me, her dead eyes following my every move. Dull black with a hint of something that might have been blue looked at me without emotion, but I knew she coveted everything I had, especially Teddy.

She’d pick at the pale chalky skin on her arms with her long white fingernails, as she watched me. When Bic would laugh she’d slowly blink her dark dead eyes and give a hint of a smile. Sometimes a dry lip would get caught on one of her fangs, like a stray dog. Then she’d adjust her face and pick at her arm again.

I could hear Bic laughing. He disgusted me with his mullet, his long mustache, and the same dead look that Doris had. It wasn’t so much that he was bad, that he was just crude. Where Teddy is refined and meticulous, Bic is uncultured and proud of it. He brags about it. Where Teddy is well read, Bic is ignorant and proud to be uninformed about the latest culture.

They, the men, were talking about politics and cars. I can handle the cars. It was the political banter that made me want to scream.

Bic finally came over to me and said, “Doris used to be in love with Teddy.” Then he gave me a slow smile that turned into a laugh. He always did that when he said something he know I wouldn’t like. “I don’t know why you have a problem with her.”

I should have just out and out told him that I’m a snob. I almost said something about Vampire trash but refrained for Teddy’s sake. They’d be gone soon. I’d simmer for a while then get over it.

Both Teddy and I have cleaned our closets over the years of individuals who don’t bring anything to our lives. We have an eclectic group of friend whom we treasure, but there are also those people who come with too many “attachments” and always come with trouble.

It is a crazy and unsure world that my almost grown children will find themselves in. I want them to always feel as if they aren’t alone. I want them to know they have value. I don’t want them to be followers. I want their joy not to be in binge drinking, but in enjoying their blood, like fine wine. We are not animals. We are not monsters. Even if it was legal I wouldn’t want them grabbing children off of the street – even if they were strays.

While those with dead souls who have never dreamed, like Teddy’s old friends, the rest of us can sing along, and know that road, the only road we’ve ever known, will lead us to the right place. Or at least it will lead to someplace interesting.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman