The Aged and the Agile: 10 Startling Things I Learned About My 9-Year-Old Niece over the Holidays

Since it’s a holiday, I’m yanking this one out of the dusty archives…

1. She is often airborne.

  The lovely lass has been taking gymnastics lessons for some time, and apparently the leaders of this possible cult encourage their members to practice ALL the time. This results in startling moments when said lass will perform sudden handsprings across the kitchen counter whilst the bleary-eyed adults are just trying to sip their morning coffee.

2. She doesn’t have bones that can easily snap like the dried-out older people.

  As can often happen when trying to get the best score from the Olympic judges that are possibly hiding in the laundry room, excessive zeal during an otherwise spectacular tumbling maneuver can lead to missed targets and small bodies slamming into innocent walls. Post-crash, the little trooper simply springs up and races off to prepare for another exhibition, whereas any adult involved in the slamming would be in traction and fully qualified to star in a Hallmark movie about plucky people who can no longer use their body parts but still have a good enough heart that Tori Spelling will marry them at some point.

3. The global energy crisis has been resolved.

  She never stops moving. Ever. This is what is known as a “natural, unlimited resource”. No one has to drill for anything and the planet remains green and friendly. We just need to make a few clones of my niece (based on observed energy output, I don’t think we would need more than half a dozen little dynamos or so to light the entire universe), convince them that it is fashionably acceptable to run about whilst tethered to a power grid (“sweetie, ALL the cheerleaders are wearing cords these days”), and not charge anybody a penny for the output, since youngsters don’t even need or understand money.

  We’ll probably get a Nobel Peace Prize for this, what with people no longer needing to go to war over oil and stuff. (I’m sure certain zealous misogynists will soon find another reason to justify international conflict, but hopefully this won’t happen until after the nice people in Sweden have handed us a check.)

4. She can wear absolutely anything and still be adorably cute.

  Uncle Brian: “Sweetie, that outfit is the cutest thing ever. Who got that for you?”

  Niece (rolling eyes, because adults are just so stupid and you have to explain things to them): “I made it out of popsicle sticks and dryer lint. Last week, when the Disney Channel wasn’t working because I landed on the remote control and it got stuck and we had to watch America’s Stupidest Redneck Weddings for three days. I got bored, so…”

  Uncle Brian: “Are you going to be a fashion designer when you grow up?”

  Niece (rolling eyes, because she was nine years old and clearly a mature woman in her eyes): “Nope. I’ll just let Mommy keep buying me things to wear. Most of the time she does a good job.” (Then her rolling eyes briefly stopped on a wadded-up Kohl’s sack that had been tossed in a corner of her room, presumably containing a horrid garment that had not met couture requirements and had been left out as a warning against future Mommy slip-ups.)

5. There is absolutely nothing wrong with watching the same episode of a young-adult program at least 714 times.

  During one of these repeat sessions, The Guinness Book of Tweenager Records called and wanted to interview us for shattering the old milestone. I told them they might as well wait, because we still had two days left in our visit and we could easily watch this same show another thirty times. They have a plane on standby.

6. Hip nine-year-olds have their own language and knowledge base.

  I often felt like Forrest Gump in that extended bit of the movie where he kept running and running. We didn’t really know why he was doing that or where he was going but we just assumed we would understand more when he got there. I never did understand some of my niece’s oratory destinations, but at least I got a nice telegram from Sally Field explaining that sometimes it’s better to have a small part in the movie than not be in it at all.

7. My niece really, really, really likes to win at video and board games.

  Enter the arena at your own risk. Pay no attention to the caged lions off to one side that can be released with a small signal from Angelic Niece. Hunker down and pray for daylight.

8. My niece has a vast and healthy imagination.

  Any playtime activity (which is basically any waking moment) can turn into a fantastic adventure full of creativity concerning otherwise mundane things, proving that you don’t need fancy, over-priced toys that require multiple batteries be shoved up their butt.

  The most exciting visit to the Imaginarium? We took the Woody and Jessie dolls from Toy Story, rechristened them Snickers and Jolly Rancher to better suit our indie, on-the-fly, Quentin Tarantino script, and set out on a quest to recover a holy receptacle that had been stuffed with candy before being whisked away by one of the many evil Pig Kings that live in the niece’s mandatory pile of stuffed animals.

  It was a treacherous journey, with both of us dying several times, mostly due to the murky “rules of engagement” that my niece kept changing on a whim. (I’m assuming she was a double agent with the Porky People). But we’ve learned from video games that you just have to push a button and everybody is breathing again, so it was all good. We eventually triumphed, cramming sugar-based products into our mouths and then racing out to the family room to share our adventures with the other relatives. They just looked at us and then went back to watching America’s Funniest Redneck Plumbing Incidents.

9. Mandatory bedtime is an outrage against the youth of the world, and those youths have banded together to form Occupy Living Room to have their grievances addressed.

  Sadly, the social and political network in this country is still dominated by The Big People with Money. Big People who can still pick you up and carry you to the slumber chamber which you dread (even though said chamber was the delightful land of Snickers and Jolly Rancher mere minutes ago, where sugar caches could be discovered in the most amazing places).

  And then you are ungraciously plunked down in the cushy bed, where you will pout for the three minutes it takes you to fall asleep (700 cartwheels does take its toll after all), drifting away while the adults continue swilling from glass bottles, consuming a forbidden nectar that makes them increasingly louder and happier and erroneously convinced that they can beat all takers in something called “beer pong”.

10. I really need to get back home to Broken Arrow more often than I do.

  Jolly Rancher still has more treasures to find, and I want to be her sidekick whenever I can…


Old Note: Previously published, some time ago. Slight changes made. Jolly Rancher will be turning 16 in a few weeks, and we no longer fight the evil Pig Kings. She is caught up in the societal whirlwind of high school, on the verge of being given a driver’s license, and she has little interest in what once was or reminders of such. But I’m still allowed to call her “Jolly Rancher”, as long as I do so discreetly, and her smile reminds me of the faded time when we would play for hours and never wanted to go to bed…

New Note: Jolly Rancher will be turning Twenty in a few months. She’s been driving for years at this point, she’s out of high school and she’s making a life with her boyfriend in a new apartment, finally moving away from my sister’s home. I haven’t called her Jolly in a long time, to the point that I don’t think I really should, at least not now. Let’s just keep that memory clean, a separate mental photo album that we might take off the shelf, together, at a later place and time. After all, we never did find that one especially clever Evil Pig who managed to escape through a magic portal…

35 replies »

    • True, I don’t know the experience on a daily basis. But my sister certainly does, dealing daily as she did with the thermodynamics. (On the flip side, Said Sister affected the power grid in our own childhood. Bit of karma, perhaps?)


  1. Excuse me a moment while I dab my eyes. 😭 The list was amazing (as you always write), but those last two little additions really hit me in the heart. I have a couple of “Jolly Ranchers” of my own, who have spawned their own ranchers, and to whom I’m that ‘weird old lady’ who comes to family parties once in a blue moon. Memories of being asked to play Barbies endless with the now “Mom” once my niece, came to my mind’s eye and turned on the faucet. Bless you. Uncle Brian holds a special place in her heart you know. As will her eventual tiny ones. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya, yes I do. What we once were is no longer, but as long as I retain some degree of control over my faculties, I will still have the snapshots and the feelings. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a chance to have adventures with a new batch of rancher-ettes. Of course, when we go on those new missions to topple the grandsons of the Evil Pigs, my valiant bravery will probably need some medical and physical assistance. But the quest remains noble and true…


  2. Oh my. Just oh my. Energy. I just spent hours with great nieces and nephews who barely slowed down to eat. That energy. Just watching them wore me out. What you have written here, is so amazing, so loving. So very special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yes, that eye-opening, mildly-concerning energy. We both had it once, in abundance. Miles and miles we could go before we finally stumbled into bed and immediately went to sleep, content with the promise of tomorrow’s adventures…

      Liked by 1 person

      • My son was with me back about two years ago when I wasn’t hiking the mountain in a regular schedule (much like now). I scared him because of the way I was breathing, he was afraid he was going to have to call for rescue. But, we made it to the top and my lungs got a really super good work out.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I was admittedly aiming for such a target, so, guilty as charged. But tell me, back in your tender, single-digit years of imaginative play, what character did you most want to play? The princess in need of rescue? The rescuer? The person who imprisoned the princess in the wretched tower cell? The covert wiccan priestess who dispensed sage advice along with medicinal herbs, thus controlling the kingdom behind the scenes? Wait, let me guess. You were the character with special skills, including the ability to fly at a moment’s notice, saving the day with some last-minute air-transport at just the right moment. Close? I’m curious…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wonder Woman was a favorite. I liked Electro Woman & Dyna Girl too… cool gadgets. And I seem to recall some non-cartoon thing about Isis 🤔 Your guess is pretty good.
        I guess I wanted to appear normal & regular, but have a secret something special. Yep! That’s my childhood.
        Send me the bill, Dr Brian😉😂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this and look forward to future posts about your new, grown-up adventures. It may take a few more years of “Jolly” declaring her independence but that day will come and I can’t wait to read all about it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I look forward to the eventual day when I answer my phone, not recognizing the number, and I hear an older version of a voice I knew: “Snickers? I just got some intel about the new hideout for the Evil Pigs. Are you ready to initiate the operation at midnight?”

      And, of course, I will be. Even if I’m a bit slower than I used to be…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. She sounds as delightful as my own wonderful niece. I remember when she was obsessed with something called a Jojo See-wah–never did find out what that was…maybe something from the Star Wars universe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m biased, of course, but Jolly IS pretty swell. (My sister might have a few performance appraisals for me to review that might tarnish Jolly’s image a bit, but still.) As for your own Wonderful Niece, Jojo Siwa is a great role model, stressing the need for acceptance of both yourself and others. I’d encourage that angle, despite the suspicious Star Wars cast-member moniker…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What wonderful memories – and a vivid portrait of a remarkable young woman. You had me laughing all the way through.

    Also: She must be very lucky to have you for an uncle.

    And: This I love: “indie, on-the-fly, Quentin Tarantino script”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I take many flights of fantasy with my writing on Bonnywood, but sometimes the best stories are those that stay right here on the ground.

      And I appreciate you appreciating the Quentin reference. I love me some movies, so it’s always a delight when folks are in on my innuendoes… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.