Yesterday I caught Penelope eating some sidewalk chalk outside on the back deck. Actually, I didn't catch her, she confessed. She stuck her head in the door and held it out with a big smile and blue flecks of it in her teeth. I told her how gross it was and rushed her to the sink to wash her mouth out. It was really my fault for leaving it in her reach.

As I was washing her mouth out, I thought of my dad. He once washed chalk out of someones mouth too. His mother. My granny. That one was my fault too. Catching Penelope with the chalk reminded me of the time in college when I glanced into the den where my granny was resting only to discover her chomping away on my chalk pastels, which I had left in a little plastic bowl by the recliner. Horrified, I said, "Granny's eating my pastels!" and Dad had to go in there and explain to her that they were NOT food and then take her to the bathroom to get all the chalky goodness out of her dentures. I didn't watch this part. I felt too bad and really too grossed out.

So when I washed out Penelope's mouth I thought of Dad doing the same for his elderly mother and realized it was just a whole new spin on the circle of life. As a baby and a child you do stupid stuff and don't even realize it. Someone has to tell you that's just not the way things work. And then you get older and start to do really dumb things all over again. But there are quite a few years in between when you might actually get it right. This encouraged me since I am quickly approaching middle age. I might not be young and cool but, at least I don't eat chalk, right? There is something to be said to have a little life experience. The somewhat discouraging thing is, though, that one day when I'm 80 plus and sitting around in my recliner I might reach over and bite into something inedible. But I'm encouraged. To enjoy middle age. Not young and stupid, not old and stupid. The stupid things I do are totally with my consent. I can choose to be stupid! I have control over my stupidity! Let's hear it for the un-young yet un-old! We rule the world. We stop others from choking on artist's mediums!

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