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Remember 50 is the new 40


by Tracie Grimes
Tracie is a monthly contributor to Kern County Family Magazine

sprinkler
I’ve been in a reminiscent mood lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because it’s spring; maybe it’s because my youngest is 12, and I’m staring “empty nest” right in the eye; or, maybe because I’m just procrastinating because I’m looking a deadline right in the eye.

My cousin Jennifer and I spent a lot of time doing things that could land us in jail today. We talked about selling our siblings (her sister and my two brothers) to welfare.  A lot. Could never quite convince the parentals this was a good idea, however.

We incinerated ants, sold lemonade, ran through sprinklers, and de-winged moths; although Jennifer drew the line here and actually punched me after I pulled a wing off. “The moth was already dead,” I sobbed in defense when Grandma came out to investigate what the ruckus was about.  Jennifer got in trouble for hitting me. I smiled at her through my crocodile tears.

We also spent an inordinate amount of time torturing our Uncle Dirk. He wasn’t really our uncle but a close family friend who, according to family legend, followed my Uncle Jesse (an actual uncle) home from school one day and became an unofficial Mouser family member.

Dirk was fun to torture. He never really got mad. He chased us but never caught us. And, he deserved it. Who tells a couple of 9-year-olds that Santa won’t be coming, because he stuffed Santa and Rudolf in a Mason jar and threw them into the ocean? Or, that our parents found us in a potato field?

We came up with all kinds of innovative methods of torture for Uncle Dirk. We hid his tobacco (he rolled his own cigarettes). We rigged a radio using washers and string, so we could turn it on and crank it to full blast whenever he tried to sleep (he worked the night shifts at times). We were cheeky little monkeys.

Now, we’re grown, and Uncle Dirk is gone. But, our sense of mischief and cunning remain. Our new targets (mwaahaahaha): our children. Who ate all the robin’s eggs out of the Easter baskets? Who had the swim coach announce over the PA system at a meet that so and so Grimes had to leave early to get ready for a date with so and so?  And, every mom knows one sure-fire way to irritate and embarrass your younglings: sing and dance while you’re driving! The key is making sure at least one of your kids’ friends sees you. 

Good times don’t have to end just because you grow up. You just have to find new victims.

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