"Her favorite thing to torture me with is a little wind-up bug toy she found at a dollar store," Namen said. "It's a 2-inch-long cockroach on wheels. You pull it back and let it go. She loves to employ this little fella in the kitchen when she's standing next to the stove. She'll pull it back to wind the wheels, put her foot on it to prevent escape, then yell for me. When I'm a couple feet away, she removes her foot, allowing the roach to skitter across the linoleum, sending me screaming up on top of the counters.
"I'm not exactly sure how I get airborne and jump back 5 feet to land on the counter, but Mom manages to bring out unknown superpowers in me. She's had this bug for nearly 10 years and I still fall for it every time. I told Mom I'm putting her in a nursing home as soon as I'm able."
Namen went on to say, "It may seem weird, but I actually enjoy the little pranks and screamfests. It keeps me alert because I never know when she will strike. Also, when a situation occurs in real life, scary or tragic, it doesn't much affect me much because Mom has basically scared the fear out of me. I can face down just about any challenge. Fear rarely registers with me. Scary movies are a joke. If someone jumps out yelling boo! I just sigh and go, 'Mom does it better.'"
The coolest part of Namen's email provides validation for parents like me, crediting us with honing our children's life skills:
"Because of your lies and pranks, your daughter will be more wary and suspicious, making her a cautious young lady who will know when someone is yanking her chain. Too many young people today are gullible, believing everything the media and their peers tell them. Had they been raised by a pranking mother, they may have stood a better chance."
And then she followed that with some smart-aleck bit about letting my daughter know if the nursing facility where she's sending her mother will offer group rates.
Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinful...@gmail.com.